25 September 2012

Style Redux

Apparently I am growing old because I find myself divesting the cottage of things I thought I would never part with.  I keep finding areas in the house that once delighted me with their whimsical clutter but now seem little more than obstacle courses.  When these fits (which is what they resemble) overtake me, in the back of my mind I hear the cautionery words of an old friend's former art teacher: "Refine and select! Refine and select!" (Not unlike a Barbary Coast parrot: "Pieces of Eight! Squawk! Pieces of Eight!") 

And so the baskets and piles are routinely gathered together in one place and I pore over them to see what can be put away, what can be [gasp!] thrown or given away (i.e., let someone else fall over it), what can be used in a different and less intrusive way, or what should be packed in newsprint and put in the attic. ("For my descendants", I tell myself, although to be honest my progeny would have to be legion to inherit all the items I have already squirreled away for them. They would also have to be willing to spend half their lifetimes reading myriad books and the other half ironing mountains of antique table linen.)

 One tipping point is the untold numbers of toys I seem to have.  I began collecting "whimsy" as a teenager, making adorable vignettes of paper doll figures and small toys with moving parts such as miniature wagons or rolling hobby horses. This addiction only ramped up with the arrival of my own child, providing me with a legitimate excuse to keep ever more playful old fashioned toys around the house in charming tablescapes or tumbling aesthetically from baskets and tins.  

When she reached adolescence the excuses for having these things in plain view were thin on the ground, but I kept them out just the same, and visitors to the cottage always commented on how many interesting curiosities there were tucked away here and there.

The arrival of grandchildren meant that the toy displays became larger and more pervasive. (Including a life-sized tiger!)  Nearly every stair going to the second floor had a vintage toy, a stuffed animal wearing reading glasses, or a stack of miniature Beatrix Potter volumes. (I routinely knocked a handmade cloth doll on her head each morning as my dressing gown brushed past her on my way downstairs.)

As of this writing, there are still plenty of artistic 'piles' around the house, barely a surface free of tableaux, and enough overflowing baskets and containers to outfit a Covent Garden market stand. 

I will never adopt anything close to a "spare" look.  But I am trying to be more selective in my dotage. If only to avoid being found at the bottom of the stairs, surrounded by toys that turned on their mistress.




  1. Very amusing, and artfully stated. Since I closed my shop I simply have too much junk! Nobody wants it. Not even me. boo hoo.

  2. Oh - Yes! I am working on the declutter/thinning out process myself. Started it some time ago, but everything came to a halt for a while. Need to get the process going again.
    Thanks for stopping by and nice comment on the jewelry I make.
    Enjoy your evening,

  3. I can only imagine your conuundrum, Jacqueline! As for me, this process will only work if a) I never accept another gift and b) never go shopping again! Neither of which is very likely. HAH!

  4. Those "halts"happen to me, too, Glenda, and I find them deadly. But I am trying. Right now my mother is "fostering" most of my Teddy Bears!