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Jun 13, 2013

collecting dust or memories

I have always been intrigued by collections. Everybody out there collects something. You have your stereotypical collections like baseball cards, records and well, we all remember that classic plush toy made by TY that was popular in the 90s. My grandmother made sure my brother and I owned every single one available and I am almost positive she may have broken someone’s arm or two if there was the “last one” sitting on a shelf.  Come on. Admit it. Even you owned a Beanie Babie. Or two. Or three. Or three million.

Collections intrigue me because some are fads and some are so personal and go way back that you can really learn a lot about a person just based on what they collect. Some people have been collecting the same things since they were kids. That has always interested me. My mom has been collecting pig figurines for as long as I can remember and she has them scattered all over the house neatly tucked into her décor. Those are my favorite kinds of collections. The ones you live with and incorporate into your décor. My husband and I collect farm toys but it's more his thing than mine anymore. I actually added an office for him in our floor plan just for that collection. (And so he could have a nice quiet place to himself to pay bills or meet with the crop insurance guy.) I told him we could have farm toys in the house as long as they were very old and slightly rusty. Rustic if you will.

One of my favorite collections is my gray antique enamelware. I don't like to sit back and say "yeah, I collect antiques".... 'Antiques' is such a broad term and could cover just about basically anything. When people say they collect antiques I usually say "Oh yeah? Antique what?" You have to remember, people had stuff 'back in the day' just like we do now. The only difference is things were made better and a lot of it wasn't as massed produced as things are now. Not to mention, old things are really, really cool and interesting. They "just don't make things like they use to..." Also, there are so many time periods too. I'm not into mint Victorian antiques  but I have a friend who is (Yes, Anna I am talking about you sister!) and I can appreciate her love of a good find just as she can appreciate my love for a rusty piece of barn junk.

I can't really remember how I got started collecting it. I think I picked up a piece one day at the antique store after staring at it for 20 minutes and went to the counter to purchase it, brought it home and stuck it in a box until I found a use for it. Eventually I started seeing more and more of it at stores and it just spoke to me. I just find the gray to be such a nice neutral color that can just go about anywhere and look like it belongs. I would pick up a piece each time I'd go antiquing. It gets expensive as each pieces costs $20-50 easily depending on the condition or size. My mom caught on that I enjoyed the gray enamelware and she started ebaying for it, finding a lot better prices. I have a pretty good sized collection now, especially after my birthday. Enough to display on the base of my china cabinet.

I am still not done collecting. I will continue to pick up pieces I don't have that I find interesting. I'd really like to get the milk can. They're out there. I just haven't found one cheap enough yet. I prefer the pieces to have some rust on them. They don't have to be in mint condition. I like pieces that have stories. Not something that looks like it's been sitting in storage it's whole life. Eventually some day, I'd like to fill that whole cabinet with gray enamelware and if we outgrow the cabinet, then we will add some shelves in the dining room.

Things you collect don't have to sit in a box or in a tub. Find a creative way to make them functional and displayable. If you have a collection of Rookie baseball cards from when you were a kid, put them in a fun album on your coffee table and when your nieces and nephews come to visit, whip it out for an afternoon of reminiscing. If your collection is sitting in a tub or box in the attic or basement you need to figure out if : a) it really doesn't mean all that much to you or b) you're waiting to get rich quick someday or c) maybe you're saving it for your kids or grand kids to have. If it's a) or b) it's time to move on and sell it if you can't incorporate it into your daily life. Maybe you will find yourself on the next episode of Pawn Stars!

How can you incorporate your collection into your home? After all, you spent a lot of time and money building it. Of course you can decorate with it. That is the obvious of course! I use one of my gray enamelware strainers as a place to corral my sink necessities. At first I was afraid I would ruin it with daily use and was going to "save it for good" but then I told myself that it needs to be used. It needs a purpose and I love looking at it every time I go to wash my hands or dishes. It's fun! It's also very functional because I set it just slightly over the edge of the sink so any excess water from my wet hands can drain out.

What do you collect and why? I'd love to hear from you!

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