day 403 – four thank yous

This is the final post of four things on but the site will remain open with updates on the things to come.

This has been a truly amazing year with this project. From day one I knew when I was organizing my studio and seeing how many small collections of things I kept and really loved, to Allison Sommers first post on January 2nd 2011, and in early November when all weeks had been assigned, and now when everything is all said and done that the concept of this project was something people really enjoy. We love our stuff and other peoples as well.

I can’t thank the Guest Editor’s enough for making this what it is. It takes courage to expose the things we hold onto. The Guest Editor’s did it and the internet has found out a little more about each of them.

I encourage everyone to keep checking back to find out what is next for this little project. My hope is a bound book and art exhibition. But I am open to other possibilites.

My humble thank you to everyone who made this possible and the collectors around the world, past, present, and future.

Happy New Year.

s. arden hill

day 290 – four favourite design books

I love books, so I wanted to make books one of my fours, and I decided to share some of my design books. It’s hard to pick favourites, so the ones I’ve chosen are the most well-thumbed, the most familiar. I know each page, and I’ve pored over the pictures many, many times. Consequently, these are some of my older books.

The one I’ve had the longest is The Penguin Book of Comics (bottom left). I have loved comics since I was a child, and I got this as a teenager. It was a great introduction to the history of comic strips, and introduced me to some classics.

Living with Folk Art (top right) is one of my most treasured books, and has been an endless inspiration to me. During the 1990s, it made me want to live in an adobe house in New Mexico, surrounded by kachina dolls, Day of the Dead figures, and religious icons. Or maybe in a classic townhouse full of African art and artefacts. Or a country cottage full of Indian textiles.  I’m still dreaming…

The V&A book of Fifties Furnishing Fabric (top left) just makes me drool over the spare but beautiful designs of Lucienne Day et al. It’s been reissued more recently, with a different cover, but the cover of this copy is printed on matt paper, and is lovely to hold.

Matchbook Art (bottom right) was an unexpected treasure. I picked it up by chance in a cut-price bookshop in Monmouth, and then spent ages looking at the mini-masterpieces of commercial art.

These four books represent some of my most important visual passions – textiles and surface design, folk and ethnic art, and vintage graphic design and illustration, and all make me very happy.

day 289 – four vintage cosmetics

An odd collection, this. In fact, not really a collection at all. Just a few things that I picked up and haven’t quite decided what to do with.

The nail varnish came from my late mother’s things, and I liked it because of the tall tapered lid. All nail polish used to look like that, didn’t it?

I can’t remember where the ‘eye gloss’ came from, but I like the Mary Quant logo and package design.

The little metal lipstick must be very old (1940s?), and I got it ages ago at a jumble sale or something.

Last but not least, my favourite is the roll-on lip gloss, which is my own that I had as a teenager in the 1970s. I didn’t keep it all this time, but found it in my mother’s house. It is lemon-flavoured gloopy stuff, which I used to wear all the time. I thought I was pretty sophisticated.

I find old cosmetics very nostalgic, as they make me think of playing with my mother’s things as a child. Although my mother didn’t wear a lot of make-up, she never went out of the house without putting on lipstick. When I look at the old adverts and packaging now, they remind me of my yearning to emulate that adult femininity. There was (and often still is) a desirable glamour about cosmetics. As a teenager, I always found make-up fun, and I although I might question the gender politics of it now, I think I still do.

day 288 – four vintage plates

I collect vintage china, and over the last thirty years, I have amassed quite a lot of it.  If I had the room, and could afford it, I would have even more. As it is, I often have to restrain myself from lugging home a dinner service, which we could never use.

These are just odd plates, and I believe they all date from the 1950s. The one at top right was designed by Terence Conran for Midwinter, the others are anonymous.

day 287 – four shopping lists

Several years ago, I started picking up shopping lists that I found discarded at the supermarket. I’m not entirely sure why. I like the idea of found art, but I don’t often find interesting objects.

But I find shopping lists. And I find them interesting. They offer a glimpse into the life of strangers – rather like looking at the contents of someone’s trolley and making assumptions about how they live. But these strangers are never actually seen. Instead, I have these handwritten notes about some of the minutiae of their daily lives.

The orange one specifies ‘Love Life chicken’ (Love Life is a Waitrose brand), but no other brands. The one on the right wants olive oil and extra virgin olive oil. The one at the bottom seems to have split their shopping into two parts – some from Iceland, some from elsewhere, and the large one lists all the meals for the week, and some very specific ingredients (“700g bottle of passata”, “fillets cod (frozen) not battered”), which makes me wonder if it was written for someone else to do the shopping.

These are just the most recent four, so entirely random. Some of the others I stuck in a book, and then I started sticking in my own too. I think I kept about a year’s worth, but as I don’t always write a list, that’s not as many as you might think. Long before I started collecting them, my husband and I started to write joke items on our shopping lists. For some reason, ‘plankton’ and ‘krill’ became regular items on the list. At other times, greed takes over and I write something like ‘a lot of nice cake’. I also add doodles while I’m thinking. Sadly, I don’t think I’ve ever found one as idiosyncratic as my own.

day 286 – four pairs of souvenir clogs

I have to admit it, this is just a fraction of my clog collection. I picked up my first pair of souvenir clogs at a car boot sale last year, and then I just kept finding them everywhere.

They are almost invariably from Holland, as you would expect. But the pair at bottom right, inexplicably, are from Swanage.

day 285 – four incense boxes

I think the Indian graphics on these boxes are fabulous. You can click on the image to see more detail.

day 284 -four elephant toys

I love vintage toys. You might already know that.

I had already taken this photo of elephants, when I went to Peter Blake’s exhibition ‘A Museum for Myself’ in the Holbourne Museum last week. One of his collections was of elephant ornaments – ceramic, wooden, plastic, shell, painted, jewelled, carved -about 100 of them. They looked splendid all arranged in a glass case, and the exhibition made me want to organise some of my collections into cases, etc.

Sir Peter Blake is a definite role model for all artistic hoarders!

Guest Editor’s Profile – Elsie Jones

Elsie Jones

Bristol, UK

In terms of your things, what does your space (studio/office/living area) look like? please describe.

Our house is very cluttered and overflowing with stuff. I would love to have everything artistically arranged, but I’m not the most houseproud person, so it tends to just accumulate like flotsam and jetsam.

I have a small workroom in the house. I call it a workroom, because ‘office’ sounds too business-like and ‘studio’ is too artistic, but workroom is not entirely appropriate as I’m not very good at getting work done. I am far too easily distracted, and am always picking up something new. This means the room gets filled with all the discarded projects, usually on the floor, as there’s nowhere else to put it. So there’s usually only a narrow pathway on the floor between the door and my desk. The rest is just a jumble of books, toys, textile projects, boxes of clippings, rolls of decorative paper,etc.. I have a lot of shelves for storage, but I filled all those long ago. I used to try to keep the clutter confined, but now it has overflowed into all areas of the house.

Where do you normally get your things?

When I first started collecting vintage stuff 30 years ago, I used to be able to go to jumble sales every weekend and come home laden with stuff. Now jumble sales are uncommon, and car boot sales are on every weekend. So I go to them, and to secondhand shops and charity shops, although not as much as I used to, as all the local ones seem to be full of overpriced tat! I think that’s the cost of living in a big city. Small towns are often better.

There are some good vintage fairs and flea markets locally, and I sell at some of them. However even when I’m trying to sell stuff, to make some room, I always end up buying more!  I also buy vintage from Ebay and Etsy. Clearly, it’s an addiction.

It’s not all vintage, though. I can never resist a kitsch souvenir shop. It’s always great to find a badly-made plastic snowglobe, or a novelty lamp. I’ve found some great pieces of religious kitsch in cathedral gift shops all round Europe.

I also buy things from ethnic shops, as I’m attracted by folk art, religious imagery and interesting packaging. One of my greatest joys when I go abroad is to go round the local supermarket, looking at the food and packaging. We have some Indian and Chinese supermarkets in Bristol, which are great.

Bristol also has some excellent independent shops. The Here shop is especially good, and it’s where I first started buying (designer) vinyl toys.

What is your prize possession/”thing”/collectible/tool?

I really don’t think I can single out any one prize possession. Certain objects make me happy every time I see them, and those are the ones I wouldn’t want to part with. Other things are pleasing for a while, but then I’m happy to pass them on. When all the clutter is driving me crazy, I sometimes think I’d be happier without it all!


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