Aug 30, 2011

Stranger Exchange-What I Collect

We are on the eve of pairing off our Stranger Exchange partners. Here are some of the things our participants are collecting:

  • Wooden Toys
  • Wind Chimes
  • Miniature Houses
  • Lobster Paraphernalia
  • Spools
  • Animal Skins/Skulls
  • Spray Paint Cans
  • Cookbooks
  • Tiny Tea Sets
  • Mix Tapes
  • Grey Shirts
  • Pop-Up Books
  • Lace
  • Old Photographs
  • UFO Magazines/Documents
  • Fiestaware
  • Sewing Patterns
  • Rulers and Yard Sticks

This is nowhere near a complete list. It is a few items that stuck out. There were a few reoccouring collectibles on the lists we received. Those were: Glass Bottles/Jars, Old Photographs and Scarves.

Oooooh! So excited to start the exchange

Aug 29, 2011

Collecting in Childrens Literature

I was reading a book to my daughter the other night and came across this little poem about collecting:

The Stamp-Collecting Trollusk 

I loved Mercer Mayer as a kid. I still have a lot of my old books. This one that I was reading to my daughter, my dad used to read to me.

Aug 26, 2011

Collecting: Vintage Aprons

A few years ago a lovely lovely lady gifted me a most beautiful handmade vintage apron. It was a full apron made of a very busy (but adorable) fabric. It had detailing of little pockets and turquoise trim around the edges. I cherished it. I wore whenever I was cooking something special. And this is how my vintage apron collection began. 


1.a garment covering part of the front of the body and tied at the waist, for protecting the wearer's clothing: a kitchen apron. 

Aprons are as old as time. Traditionally it was a garment worn for housework etc. However, as time ticks by the apron has evolved into many things, including a fashion accessory. It's commonly used now as a uniform. Outfitting waitresses, nurses, barbers, doctors, chefs, artists, butchers, welders, blacksmiths and so on. This utilitarian attire knows no bounds. 

Floral Bib Apron $25.00

The English word "apron" is said to be derived from the old French word "naperon" meaning napkin or small table cloth. 

Apron styles are endless. There are full aprons, half aprons, pocketed aprons. I've seen aprons made of hoops, old towels, quilted, rick-racked, embroidered, and laced. There is no end to the possibilities of apron types. Your apron collection can be as varied and vast as the sea. 

If you are interested in learning more about collecting vintage aprons there are many books available on the subject. Pay a visit to your local library and see if your librarian can help you track some down! has a good variety available too. "The Apron Book: Making, Wearing, and Sharing a Bit of Cloth and Comfort"is available for $16.99. "Aprons of the Mid 20th Century" 160 detailed pages sell for $29.95. Also look for "Aprons: Icons of the American Home" and  "Gingham Aprons of the 40's and 50's: A Checkered Past".

There are so many options for displaying and showcasing your apron collection. Don't leave those beauties locked in a closet or trapped in a drawer! For some creative apron sharing ideas look here: Country Living and here: The T. Cozy and also here: Joyful Abode

And check out this interesting and detailed feminist commentary on aprons throughout history. 

All of the aprons you see here are available for sale on Etsy. Thank you Etsy sellers for the use of your lovely photographs!

Aug 23, 2011

Las Hermanas Iglesias

Maybe I'm feeling a little hairy. I just deleted 75% of my hair for donation to locks of love. I've been meaning to talk about this marvelous piece by sister artist pair Las Hermanas Iglesias, for sometime now and chopping my locks seemed to be the alarm reminding me. 

Sisters Lisa and Janelle Iglesais make up dynamic duo "Las Hermanas Iglesias." Their creations range from tounge-in-cheek to sweet and sentimental. They also make art individually and have even collaborated with their mother on a project. I find their entire catalogue of work extremely fascinating.

The first piece of theirs I'd like to share is from an instillation the girls did at the Jersey City Museum as part of their "Hairwork" series. Hairwork references the girls memories of their mother clipping and saving hair for as a keepsake, Scandinavian wreath making, and Victorian hair jewelery

I can only imagine the time and care it took to collect all of these pieces of hair and lay them ever so perfectly on to the gallery wall. The textures and the various shades are so appealing to the eye. From a far you can't even tell it is hair, but upon closer inspection the reality becomes clear. I really wish I could have seen this in person. 

Being it is so tactile, I think I would have needed to reach out and touch it.

There is another piece of Las Hermanas Iglesais' that fits with The Collect Collective vibe. It's titled "Lost Glove." A beautiful collection piece made up of recovered gloves, found in Paris over a five month period. 

62 gloves were discovered, placed on a wall and reunited with the spirit of their missing mate.

Again, this is another piece that looks stunning from a far, but when you get closer magic happens. The sweet and simplistic, but highly detailed qouache paintings of the missing gloves pop out and grab you. 


Check out the other amazing things these two have done, together and apart. 

Thank you Lisa and Janelle for the use of your photographs. 

Aug 13, 2011

Mailmale (and the Stranger Exchange)

Huh? I wonder why they never called the Postman a "Mailmale." Same thing right? Nuggets of wisdom-this and more, from your friends at The Collect Collective. 

With that being said, we are recruiting for the big "Stranger Exchange," our quarterly pen pal project. Everyone is welcome to participate. Here is the deal; you are paired up via our pen pal network, with a stranger. You and your exchange partner trade information and a list of 5 things you collect (or would like to start collecting). Then you have a month to put together a package for your stranger. Spending $10 to $15 (before shipping) you will put together a parcel of awesomeness, wrap it up nice and mail it out. Then sit back and wait for your own sweet surprise to arrive!

Everyone is invited to play.
Send us a message or post a comment saying you want in. We are looking for participants through August. You will be given your partner September 1st. Our packages will ship by October.

Aug 9, 2011

Collection A Day + Lisa Congdon

To quote San Francsico's 7 x 7 Magazine, "Unless you've been living under a rock, this should not be news to you." Hopefully you've already discovered "A Collection A Day." Lisa Congdon and her year long documenting project have been featured in The New York Times, The SF Chronicle, Martha Stewart Living, NPR, SwissMiss, and Apartment Thearpy, to name a few.

It was only a matter of time before The Collect Collective expressed love for A Collection A Day. Though Lisa Congdon was too busy to give us an interview, she was so sweet to send these photographs for us to use. 

The Collection A Day project spans exactly 365 days. It began on January 1st 2010 and ended December 31st 2010. For an entire year, a image was posted of one of Congdons's personal collections. It was either a photograph shot minimally with a clean white background, or a drawing or painting of a collection. This simplistic representation of Congdon's vast collection of collections was so intriuging and stimulating it left us all wating each day to see what she would present us with next. 

In March of this year UPPERCASE published the "A Collection A Day" book. It comes packaged in it's own collectors tin. If you are interested in purchasing the book, signed copies can be found here, where there are also other sweet tidbits for sale. 

If you are looking to purchase photographic prints from "A Collection A Day" they can be aquired here, on the new collection a day blog where you will also find information about the book, press info and dates for book singing events. 

If you would like more information on Lisa Congdon's current projects, art and illustrations, it is available at Lisa And her prints, drawings, paintings, greeting cards and even necklasess are available on her Etsy site.

Thanks Lisa, for the use of your stunning photographs!

Aug 8, 2011

Gifting a Collection

A few years back my family started a new Holiday tradition. We all seemed to be lacking in funds for gifts. The three of us decided, my mom dad and I, to give each other gifts that we'd either found, or already had. It made for quite the interesting Christmas. I think I received the best gifts ever that year. Now we try to continue to bring an element of up-cycling to every Christmas. 

Some of the strange, heartfelt and special gifts I received on that fateful holiday included letters written by my grandfather to my grandmother while he was in the war, my great grandmother's lamps (which had flanked my parents bed for two decades) and a tiny vinyl box-pictured above

I was used to my parents sending me odd things in the mail. Ever since I had moved to California, every few months a package would arrive and surprise me. My roommates and I would gather around and see what treasures were hiding. Once there was an old barbie phone that really rang. One time there was a shrink wrapped cookie-just one-because my mom wanted to show me that she'd just purchased a shrink wrapper. One year my dad sent me a box of 17 knives, 3 rolls of duct tape and a bottle of carpet cleaner. I asked him what he thought it was that I did in my spare time. 

The vinyl box was amazing. Not only did it have that sweet gold design on the front, but it folded out on all four sides. I opened it slowly. I was totally amazed. Inside of this fantastic wrapping was three little sea horse skeletons. 

These were not just any old sea horse skeletons. They had been my dad's pets. When I was a little girl my dad used to breed fish. Our entire basement was fish tanks-floor to ceiling. I used to go down there with my boom box and dance in front of the tanks, illuminated by the wavy light. I'd pretend I was in an MTV music video, dancing to Stevie Nick's milky voice singing on my moms Fleetwood Mac tape. And it all came back to me. 

It was a beautiful thing, this gift from my dad. Not only did it bring back happy memories from my childhood, but I now have my very own sea horse skeleton collection. 

Give the Gift of Collecting!

Aug 4, 2011

Announcing: Round 2 of The Stranger Exchange!

Attention Collectors,
Do you like the mail? Do you love collecting stuff? How would you like to get involved with a interactive mail art project involving strangers and collections? We are recruiting for the second coming of The Stranger Exchange!

The Stranger Exchange is a pen pal network set up to connect fellow collectors.You will be paired with a stranger who has similar collections or likes. The two of you will exchange information, a few notes and tidbits and eventually a package!

All you need to do to be involved in The Stranger Exchange is email us your Name, Email Address, Snail Mail Address and A list of 5 things you collect (or would like to collect). Everyone is welcome to participate. There is no discrimination. If your next door neighbor, grandma, grocery store bagger or cribbage partner want to play to, that's cool! Send 'em on over.

We will be recruiting for participants through the month of August. You will be given your partner on September first and your packages should be sent by the end of September. We are all really looking forward to this next round. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to ask. If you follow the stranger exchange links posted above, you will see other blog postings/photographs of the last exchange.

Happy Collecting!
Love, The Collect Collective

Aug 3, 2011

Collecting: Wooden Toys

I love toys. I (of course) loved them as a child. I love them as an adult. And as a collector, I adore them. The world of collecting toys is quite vast. There are dollhouse miniatures, Barbies, View masters, paper dolls, comic books, Fisher Price, wind-up toys, music boxes, mechanical banks and Tonka Trucks to name a few. I'm sure I will end up talking about toys many more times, but I thought I'd start with a personal favorite,  wooden toys

I'm sure it's safe to say that wood was one of the first materials used in crafting toys. A hundred some years ago, hand carved, one of a kind toys were it..The first wooden toys sold in the United States were largely from Germany. They were made with water powered drills; water wheels moved by flowing rivers sent power to the drills. Each toy was slightly different than the next, not like today's assembly line toys.

During the 19th century wooden toys were the standard. Children were playing with wooden trains and tracks, toys soldiers, tea sets, wooden food, alphabet blocks, pull-behinds, dolls, and jigsaw puzzles. Many children were only allowed to play with toys on Sundays, making many wooden toys available, of a biblical nature e.g. Noah's Arc.

After World War II the manufacturing of wooden toys declined. The plastic business was booming. Though you could still find wooden toys or hybrid wooden/plastic toys. Wooden toys had fallen out of fashion. They seem to be making a comeback these days, with spiking interest in Waldorf education and a desire to return to simpler times. 

There are a few good manufactures making quality wooden toys these days. Melissa & Doug are quite popular and can be found a number of places. I really love the German company Haba and have invested in some great Haba toys for my daughter. The site Mookla offers the largest selection of modern wooden toys I've ever seen. But I prefer antique and vintage wooden toys. My daughter loves the springy tail with the wooden tip on her Lil Snoopy Dog pull-behind (the same Lil Snoopy Dog I drooled all over.) Wooden toys last much longer than plastic and can be heirlooms, shared between generations. 

If you are interested in learning more about collecting wooden toys there are many books available on toy collecting, which you may have to scan through to find wooden specialties. It is always helpful to ask your friendly librarian. The Wonder Of American Toys 1920-1950 is available for only $13.95 on Old Wood Toys.Com  is a very helpful website, full of links and answers to questions. And Wooden Toy Museum has a good list of links available too.

Remeber to care for and clean your wooden toys to insure their lifespan. gives us this helpful adivce: 
*Direct sun can also damage a toy over time, particularly those that are unfinished or oil preserved.
*Wood that is overly dry is prone to cracking and splitting.
*Rough or splintered edges should be smoothed with fine sandpaper.
*The character of your wood can change with humidity, therefore it is essential that you routinely inspect the toy for parts that may have loosened.
*DO NOT use furniture polish on wooden is toxic to children. It is helpful to know what type of finish is used on your toy; this will determine the maintenance required. 
If you follow the link you will also find information regarding stains, finishes, glues and assembly.  

Reminder: Not all wooden toys are safe for children, especially vintage wooden toys with their lead based paints and their small parts. Always use caution and supervision where necessary.

All of the wooden toys you see here are available for purchase on Etsy. Thank you Etsy sellers for the use of your spectacular photographs!