Inspired, in part, by this post from the wonderful Kate Wally (and, to be honest, the simple fact that Kate Wally exists in this world and that she, like me, has an appreciation for the beauty of objects and their existence as artifacts of human culture), I thought perhaps today’s post would share a little about the things I collect, and why they’re important to me.
And, just so you know, it will not feature books. Not even one. Ain’t nobody reading this blog who doesn’t know books are my primary reason for existing and that I already own more than I’ll ever have a chance to read – this post is about the other things I love.
Firstly, I love stuffed animals. I have one in particular (an image of which I don’t want to share here, because it’s too precious) which was made for me by my late grandmother in the last weeks and months of her life. She made it from an old curtain, stuffed it with tights (read ‘pantyhose’ if you’re American) and sewed facial features and buttons onto its body which were made out of tiny pieces of felt, most of which have, by now, worn away. I almost lost this particular stuffed animal during a house move in my twenties, and I’m eternally grateful to my heroic friend Ciara who rescued it for me, and reunited me with a part of my earliest childhood which I would have been forever broken without. I always called this stuffed animal ‘Cat’, even though I think my grandmother intended it to be a teddy bear – but labels, schmabels. It’s my beloved, and that’s enough.
Secondly, I love elephants. Love, love, love. I always have. I own a small elephant figurine collection, which I call my ‘Bellyfants’ (this is what their name would be if they ever decided to form a band, which might happen one of these days):
I can’t say that I have a favourite (particularly because most of these figurines were presents from people I love, most recently the beautiful black one at the back which was from my wonderful brother), but I am particularly drawn to Ermintrude, at the front there, whom you probably can’t see. He’s tiny. The others look after him. I’m a sucker for the baby in any litter, of course. (And yes of course I know Ermintrude’s a girl’s name, but my elephants are creatures of the twenty-first century, don’tchaknow. They don’t go in for gender reductivity, man. Get with the program).
I also have handbags, purses, stuffed animals and an animatronic figurine, all shaped like elephants and/or featuring elephants as part of their design, and so I think that makes my elephant obsession the nearest thing I have to an actual collection. Go me!
I also love boxes.
I have collected boxes for years, on and off. These are the few that were least dusty and/or most readily available when the photo was being taken; it’s not my ‘collection’ in its entirety. I also have a beautiful box which my husband gave me as a Christmas present a few years ago which is shaped like a butterfly, and a lovely carved wooden jewellery box which reminds me of my other grandmother (not the teddy-bear one, in other words), but they were otherwise occupied when the camera came out. I don’t even know what’s in these boxes – it’s been years since I opened them. I’ll probably find tokens for an old washing machine in a house I used to rent, or faux-jewellery I once loved and thought I’d lost, or possibly my long-vanished marbles, in one of these boxes. Perhaps that’s what makes them special – the fact that they could be containing multitudes. In fact, all they contain is tat, but that’s not important.
I also have a thing for butterflies and Tiffany-effect lighting, which explains this:
It has a fifteen watt bulb (like my brain, most days) and it sits on our hall table. It doesn’t get used very often, but when it does the gentle glow it casts in our hallway and up the stairs is beautiful. I couldn’t pass this when we saw it for sale; it was pleasingly antique-looking (though the illusion fades rather quickly when you’re up close) and also wonderfully butterfly-related, and so it had to come and live with us. I love Tiffany-style lamps – we also have one in our spare room, which is a shame in some ways because it means I don’t get to use it very often – and until I can afford an actual Tiffany lamp (i.e. never) my cheap but pretty copies will have to do.
I’m not a person for whom things mean a huge amount; I don’t own very much, and I don’t want to. (Besides books. I’m talking about shoes, and clothes, and handbags, and the usual accoutrements of female life, dear husband, if you’re reading). The things I’ve introduced you to here, however, mean a lot to me and I’d be lost without them. I’ve had some of these things for years – I know I bought some of the boxes while I was still at school, for instance, as might be obvious from the state they’re in – and whenever I see them they remind me of my past, or of people I used to know, or of the lovely folk who made gifts of them to me. They make my house into my home, and no matter what way you look at it, that’s important.
What about you? Are there things in your life you simply can’t live without, or do you travel light? Care to share?