For Collecting's Sake

By alison February 8, 2011 15 Comments 3 Min Read

We do our thing don’t we? We scout around the charity shops and the antique shops, the boot sales and the junk shops looking for whatever we call treasure and we do it not out of necessity- not because we cannot afford to buy the modern alternative, nor because food matters more than that we decorate our home and personage with, but because this is our chosen aesthetic. Because deep rooted values decree that was once loved deserves to be loved again. Because the past is who we are today. We do our thing. And yet we never, not even for a minute acknowledge that we are but a moment in time. That though our love of vintage may go way back in our personal histories, this flood of “vintage” blogs, this depletion of all the good stuff, this obsession with all that is old, this too will pass when the young and the beautiful move on. Because they will. Because they already are. Because this is how society rolls. Because we mustn’t and we can’t and we shouldn’t stand still and when we are all chasing the same dream, we merely end up going around in circles until fashion shows us how to move on. How to layer the new upon that which we already possess and conjure up a new way of seeing in the process.
So though we might cringe when we are forced to admit it, fashion will move on and  with any luck it will take us with it, making barely perceptible changes to our aesthetic: teaching us that we have to respect the new. To not fear it, or dismiss it as ugly. To support young craftspeople and designers and above all else to abandon this relentless chase to own all that we have come to consider collectible.
Because that is what we are doing now isn’t it? Collecting for collecting’s sake. I see it everywhere. Homes in magazines buckling under the strain of holding more tattered tea-towels than any one woman could use in an entire lifetime. Women on-line who haunt auction sites and document every tiny purchase, creating table-scapes with their latest finds before packing them away under the bed and setting off on another treasure hunting mission. Because never was the truism “the thrill is in the chase” more true than when it comes to us women trying to out-do each other on-line…
Enough already.
We have no place to put all this stuff. Money that could be spent on something worthwhile is frittered away on yet more hankies, another ironstone platter, another lot of floral postcards and for what? To say look how clever I am? To display perfect taste or bottomless purses? We have no place to put this stuff and we have to learn to hone our eye again: to stop imitating each other, out-bidding each other and following each other like worn out sheep.
So what exactly am I advocating here? A mass exodus away from a past-time we all love? Of course not. This is a business I know and love. I am merely saying, let’s stop making it into a competition sport and wait for precious things to find us instead. Let’s craft and chat and learn and read. Treasure hunting is shopping by another name and making shopping our life is ultimately soul-less. Let’s trust serendipity instead…
This then is a call to arms. To learn who we are again. To discover what it is we love now. Old or brand spanking new. To stop showing off. To get really, really brave and particular and fussy and pull from our collective aesthetic only that which floats our boats. To cultivate originality. And eccentricity. And truth. To feel our way towards rooms that thrill us,  educate ourselves in the history of those things we love,  par down our worlds to only that worth treasuring, and share on-line that which inspires others and sparks a flicker of creativity deep within our own souls.
We are worth more than a copycat life you know?

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15 Comments

  1. Lesley says:

    Now y'see..this is where I need a hand clapping emoticon (just love that word). Anyway, you'll just have to imagine me cheering and hand clapping instead! Well done, Alsion. I think this is something that has needed to be said for a loooong time. It's so very sad that something that was once fun and a little eccentric has become a copycat life. Great post.

  2. Lesley says:

    Now y'see..this is where I need a hand clapping emoticon (just love that word). Anyway, you'll just have to imagine me cheering and hand clapping instead! Well done, Alsion. I think this is something that has needed to be said for a loooong time. It's so very sad that something that was once fun and a little eccentric has become a copycat life. Great post.

  3. Melissa says:

    I completely agree and have deleted quite a few decorating blogs from my reader that seemed only intent on acquiring things and announcing that whatever we had all LOVED last year was hopelessy passe'. Simplicity and beauty are what I'm after—thank you for this post (and for your blog–it's beautiful!).

  4. Melissa says:

    I completely agree and have deleted quite a few decorating blogs from my reader that seemed only intent on acquiring things and announcing that whatever we had all LOVED last year was hopelessy passe'. Simplicity and beauty are what I'm after—thank you for this post (and for your blog–it's beautiful!).

  5. Wendy says:

    Oh yes! Thank you sooo much for saying the things I want to say but have no guts! My little house agrees, as does my husband and pocketbook.
    I can't say that we aren't to collect things, just be able to find a use for them instead of taking up valuable real estate in my home. I have a lovely collection of tablecloths, but they match my dishes and I use them often.

  6. Wendy says:

    Oh yes! Thank you sooo much for saying the things I want to say but have no guts! My little house agrees, as does my husband and pocketbook.
    I can't say that we aren't to collect things, just be able to find a use for them instead of taking up valuable real estate in my home. I have a lovely collection of tablecloths, but they match my dishes and I use them often.

  7. Gena says:

    Hmm I have mixed opinions on this post,on one hand I do see your point it does have a tendancy to take over and I for one would give anything for a life laundry fairy to come and relieve me of the absolute abundance of vintage paraphanalia that lives here,But,being in the Vintage business,it is the very thing that got me in the business in the first place,that makes it so hard to resist,its the workmanship that no longer exists,the nostalgia element,often the fragile beauty of a piece that simply cannot be found in Ikea I am afraid.

  8. Sylvia Pelekane says:

    1st week of declutter and reading this post re-awakened what happened to me over the holidaze at my daughter's/new house/young generation. "Mom, only you care about Grandma's stuff." Ouch. I honor my mother, her beautifuls, for as long as I live.
    I compete not. I live with my joy.

    1. brocantehome says:

      This is such a precious meaningful comment Sylvia. Thank-you.

  9. Sylvia Pelekane says:

    1st week of declutter and reading this post re-awakened what happened to me over the holidaze at my daughter's/new house/young generation. "Mom, only you care about Grandma's stuff." Ouch. I honor my mother, her beautifuls, for as long as I live.
    I compete not. I live with my joy.

    1. brocantehome says:

      This is such a precious meaningful comment Sylvia. Thank-you.

  10. theresa cox says:

    does this mean you will be posting light switches and doormats and oatmeal on the vintage treasures?

    1. brocantehome says:

      Oh Theresa, even as I was writing this post I could sense my own conflict of interest… I still want to celebrate what I consider beautiful, I just want to reign in my own urge to "have"…

  11. theresa cox says:

    does this mean you will be posting light switches and doormats and oatmeal on the vintage treasures?

  12. Fran says:

    Oh this is so timely as I am stuck home for a snow day. I am going through my blog list and deleting for this very reason, the competition of it all. Who can out-cute the other. Everyday is now some trite show off with a theme. THANK you for this message.

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