Thursday, March 10, 2016

Inheriting Stuff and Guilt

When a collector or a dealer finds themselves inheriting family antiques or vintage items--it is not necessarily the wonderful windfall it may first appear.
While many of us lovers of history and family and genuine neat old stuff spend a big chunk of our time with vintage and antiques,  dealers must have a disconnected sort of affection for what they buy and possess.  If a dealer plays the "should I keep it or should I sell it" game with everything purchased--there would be no money  made and overstuffed houses. (actually that IS the plight of some dealers, but Never Mind That Now!)

I am a dealer and I am WAY too sentimental about stuff.  If something catches my eye that I am buying to sell--it is not unheard of that it spends some time in our home.  Because there is no personal connection to these items, it is not hard, after a time, for the goods to find their way into the shop.

Not so easy and clear cut with personal inherited items.  In the past couple of years--I have "come into" quite a few items belonging originally to my grandmother and great grandmother and before.

What to do?  Keep it all?  Stuff it in our house?  Fill closets or bins in the garage?  Keep it or donate it?  Sell it?  Guilt abounds.

But Grandma used that biscuit cutter!!  Grandpa used the camera!  Great Aunt Can't Spell Her Name hooked that rug!  Hobnail glassware will come back in fashion!  I don't know what that tool is, but Great Grandpa used it!


Now the guilt.  I am a person who will walk an extra block to the crosswalk to cross a street safely.  I have NEVER been stopped by a police officer for a speeding ticket.  I draw the drapes when I cut the Do Not Remove tags from mattresses.  And I am supposed to GET RID of inherited stuff??  That Just Is Not Done!

Yes--yes it must be done.  If you are a dealer or collector or just a plain old person--chances are your house and shop are filled with items that did not start with your family--but started in someone ELSE'S family.  Things must move on.  I do not make biscuits.  I will not use the camera.  I can use one but not eight hooked rugs.  Hobnail glassware will NOT come back in style.

For me--it has just meant prioritizing.  I have culled through and kept special pieces for entertaining that I really have and will use.  A few.  Not 100. I have kept the bread and butter plates from Grandma's dishes--because I will use them for hors d'oeuvres at parties, not the whole set.   I have kept a few tools with real patina or character--not the tool box full.  The memories of all the stuff are still there--but there comes a time.

Give yourself permission to keep what you love, and let the rest move on.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Housekeeping Yoga


This is a curious book—and you need to be in the right frame of mind to read it.  Spark Joy by Marie Kondo is the second book by the Japanese anti-clutter/organization giant.  This book promises to help the reader cull out the mess of all categories of things in one’s living space—and surround yourself with order and only things that “spark joy.”  It calls itself the master class on the art of organizing.  I think it could be titled “Housekeeping Yoga.”

Some reviewers might poke fun at Kondo’s way of having conversations with the objects of clutter.  The author recommends being respectful of what you are tossing or giving away, thank it for the place it has had in your life, and move on.  She recommends saying good bye with gratitude before you move on.

The book has a very calming pace about itself—the author does impart a Japanese style to her writing—this is not a frenzied plan to  sort and purge.  Much of the book describes the KonMari method of tidying.  She has developed a plan—and requests that you follow her order for discarding items that do not give you joy.  Tackle clothes, then books, papers. Komono (everything else) and sentimental items.  She spends much time with her much reviewed way of folding clothing—which I found of least interest.  American’s use hangers and dresser drawers—rolling and folding clothes like you are packing a suitcase is over the top. 

This book is a very fast read—the 291 pages go quickly--and I am not sure I found any novel tips for tidying and getting rid of clutter.
I do like that she is respectful of folks with clutter and problems with too much stuff.  So many books and programs about clutter and hoarding have an element of shame to them.  Not Kondo.  Her plan is methodical—and after reading it—I have no doubt it works. Her plan is a little dodgie on how one defines joy.  That is a big word for me— the little paperweight my grandma gave me makes me smile everytime I look at it—is smiling the same as joy?

You can’t argue with success.  Kondo has created an empire—but I am not sure there is a third book needed to make a trilogy.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Too Much of a Good Thing

We just finished  a marathon of shows and shops in "the land of Oz" where we have visited for more than 10 years each March.

Thousands of people converge on a few small towns for  up to  five days and scurry from shop to show and back again searching for the elusive fabulous antique for collection or to resell.  Dear One and I have cabin fever at this time of year--the daffodils are still hiding--and the brown-ness of northern Illinois makes us want to see the brown-ness of another part of the state.

We are all crazy people as we traipse from show to show--stand in line and race around in  overheated overcrowded rooms.  We remember the days when there was just one show on the weekend--now there are six.  By the sixth one--Dear One and I have battle fatigue.

We found a few good finds.  We also look at it as a research trip--what is selling-what are people charging-what are the new fakes on the market.  Since we are seeing many things we do not collect or sell--I used to be a bit intimidated by the sea of early American antiques--and the amount of knowledge I did NOT have.  Not any more.

This trip--I watched a woman purchase a step back cupboard that was easily painted with "old" paint last week--no wait--maybe last month.  I wanted to rush over to her--talk to her about "honest wear" and how this piece was missing it.  Old cupboards were not painted on the backside.  Where are the decades and decades of greasy finger marks and bumps and bruises and character?  That blue color is NOT old paint.  Use your nose--SMELL it.  Feel the surface.  Look closer lady!! 

I asked a dealer about a  sign they had. I asked my usual "what can you tell me about this piece?"  I happen to come from the part of the county where the product originates.  While the sign had a folk art look I liked--something was "off".  How does a sign come off a tavern if it has no nail holes, no  indications it was in a now missing frame, and no weathered wear? Signs in the outdoor  elements  have tell tale markings.  Not this one.

Then again you find a dealers who knows their stock,  one who is selling something you do not see in booth after booth after booth--and is selling like gangbusters.  After a million of these shows--we know have learned where you stop and where you don't bother.

We found some treasures,  had a stock up from our favorite country grocery store,  our lungs are full of crisp not Chicago air--and we have  a whole lot of enthusiasm for a good selling spring ahead.

Sad Farewell Beautiful Lady of Paris

Adieu Belle Dame.... View from the beautiful blooming park behind the cathedral.