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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