I’m a collector. I admit I have a passion for “les objets.” Sometimes the things I love and search for go together–teapots, big, small, old floral, cracked, missing a lid, modern ceramic–they all share a story and a history. They all were part of a ceremony, probably cookies and little sandwiches were involved, and someone sat a table with someone else and there was a moment shared, a chat, and a time, sitting together, teapot part of it all, pretty and silent, perched there on the starched linen, listening. (I also collect linens.)
I collect teacups. It’s my grandmother’s fault. And my great aunt’s. And my mother’s. I inherited a set of delicate and dreamy and hazy light pink floral Limoges cups and saucers from Great Aunt Sue. I remember her using them at a big party once, and her older brother broke one and I knew she was upset but couldn’t show it because that was the type of hostess she was. I have the mismatched yellow and black and pink and green botanical ones from my Mom and Grandmother, back from the time when ladies had “coffees” and the guests would arrive, patterned dresses and hats on, maybe gloves for a sit in the formal living room where usually no one in the family ever went and the cups were filled and cake was served and the soft murmur of feminine voices wafted in the air.
I use my teacups now for my parties but I don’t offer coffee. No, the cork is popped and pink champagne (not sweet) is poured and it gets lively. Everyone needs to have champagne in a dainty and delicate porcelain teacup. Have you ever noticed that they are as pretty inside as out? Through the foamy bubbly champagne in the cup you can see the roses floating there with each sip.
I collect cake tins. When we remodeled the kitchen in our very old house, we made sure to build a little area above the white painted bench for all the tins to gather. One is my favorite. It’s a dusty 40’s type of green and has a little lid with a black knob and on the very front it says something. Can you guess? Well, you are right–it says “CAKE” in black letters, proud to state the obvious and share the good news. I liked the color of this old tin so much that we painted the walls in our kitchen the same green and it’s funny because the moment I walked in this house, before we even bought it and were “just looking” I knew the kitchen should be green. Perhaps in another life it was.
I collect Van Briggle pottery from Colorado. I collect state plates from all over the U.S. I collect Eiffel Towers. I love those little tiny rocking chairs that used to hold spools of thread. I collect small children’s chairs–they are lined up on the top of the landing leading up to the second floor and flank an old doll house, white and blue with a porch.
I love old vases with no names–soft white, yellow, blue, green and the occasional shocking orange. Wooden boxes are stacked in the guest room, alligator purses line the shelves upstairs. I collect boxes made with shells.
In the living room, curled up on an old bentwood chair, our grey tabby “Mort” cat snoozes-he’s from Paris and is always asleep. Along with the taxidermy skunk and armadillo and dancing snow goose that balances on one leg, wings spread, head and neck bowing just so. There’s a tiny taxidermy mouse that sits on the top of a framed painting in the entry.
I notice that in the same way that I gather these treasures, I gather colors and paint–my favorites, red and pink and yellow and soft green, always there on my canvases joined by the blue that’s as familiar as an old friend and now purple and orange (new to the collection). I store all the tubes and pots and brushes in a collection of wicker baskets so that when I’m ready to paint (which is always) a comforting crowd sits nearby and I start a new painting, inspired by their endearing silent pasts and lovely quiet stories.