Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Souvenirs of a collected life

I admit it... I'm a collector.  I can't help myself.  I'm one of those people who becomes intrigued by objects, like people, that have an interesting history or story to tell.   I have many of my personal collections displayed in my house.  I like to live surrounded by the special things that tell my own stories and serve as souvenirs of my adventures.  Here are a few ideas on how to display small objects collected from your life and travels.  I find that small objects often are most interesting visually when grouped together. 

beach stones:
Deception Pass, Whidbey Island, Washington State

These stones are collected from the beach at Deception Pass on Whidbey Island. We spent the day hiking, playing on the beach, and skipping stones with our nephews.  It was one of those beautiful crisp Washington days that leaves you a little sunburnt and chapped from the wind.  The stones were worn smooth from the rough seas and were the most gorgeous subtle shades of grey with black and white veins.  I brought them home on the plane and have them displayed on top of a stack of cocktail books of ocean and surf photography. Leaning behind is a picture of Colin, with his wetsuits hanging to dry, on a twisted drift log, taken a decade ago by a friend, on another Washington beach, La Push, at the tip of the Olympic Peninsula.  The second photo is of our two dogs playing this past summer on our own local beach.  Stones also make great paper weights and can hold down the corners of picnic blankets and tablecloths on windy days.  Write names on stones to use as place cards at a dinner party.

beach pottery: 
Kamakura Beach, Japan

The last day of my recent trip to Japan was spent in Kamakura.  As we walked along the shore cooling our feet in the water, I started looking for a shell or stone to take back with me to add to my collection.  What I found instead surprised me, there were broken shards of pottery in the sand all along the waterline.  I picked up one and then another admiring the blue and white patterns until I had a nice little collection in my pocket.  They are now in a small bowl on my end table, they make not only an interesting and colorful accessory but also a great souvenir from my trip.  I was inspired to do some research to understand the origins of these broken dishes.  I found I am not the only beachcomber with a collection of tumbled shards found along the Japanese shore.   

sand dollars:
Balboa Peninsula, Newport Beach, California

These sand dollars are from my local beach that I've collected over the years.  I love the contrast of the milky white shells against the dark wood of the small antique chinese box that houses them.  Again, they bring a bit of nature inside to remind you that you are at the beach (if the thin layer of sand tracked in by the dogs wasn't enough of a reminder).

vintage key chains:
from Marche aux Puces de Vanves, Paris, France

One of my favorite activities when we lived in Paris was roaming the flea market early in the morning after savoring a fresh croissant.  I would often find myself rummaging through the giant boxes of kitschy advertising keychains from the 60's.  I keep a handful of them in a small ramekin, picked up at the same market, on a tray on our bar.  I use them for spare keys when guests come to stay or as charms to identify beach towels, wine glasses or mugs when people are over.  Though mostly people just like to look through them.  These were a few of the smaller and lighter of my flea market finds.  We must have looked ridiculous bringing home marble top tables and benches with us on the metro!

spare change:
collected on travels worldwide 

I love the bills and coins from different countries we travel to, some of them are like miniature pieces of artwork in and of themselves.  At the end of every trip I always end up with that handful of coins that I haven't managed to spend, despite my best intentions.  When I get home I empty my wallet out onto my scale.  We picked this vintage scale up off the sidewalk - it had a handwritten sign taped to it indicating it was free.  I love the bright yellow color and wasn't hung up on the fact that it was no longer exactly in balance.  On the opposite tray I have placed my set of nesting Russian dolls.  Now I'll let you decide whether this is just coincidental placement or my attempt at a political statement on the state of the world.  Could it be symbolic of the relative weight given to the concerns for the health and well being of humanity versus corporate profit and share holder return...hmm, food for thought.  Or maybe it is just my personal foreign currency investment, at the point that the dollar plummets I'll have quite a well diversified nest egg in reserve!