Uncluttered collecting

Similar to Laura Wingfield in Tennessee Williams’ play The Glass Menagerie, I have a collection of animal figurines. Unlike Laura, however, most of mine are wax creatures made in Mold-A-Rama vending machines.

Mold-A-Rama machines are located in tourist destinations across the U.S., so finding them is a lot like a scavenger hunt. Actually, it’s a very addictive scavenger hunt. To keep my collection from taking over my home and becoming clutter, I instituted some rules to control the menagerie:

  • Animals may not be stored anywhere other than their designated 4′ shelf. If there are too many animals, must sell least favorite on eBay.
  • Only collect animals in person. No ordering them off eBay or asking friends to pick them up for me on their travels. If I don’t touch the machine myself, I won’t obtain it.
  • The Mold-A-Rama must be an animal, not buildings or other molded forms.
  • Don’t plan trips around collecting the animals, rather check machine locations only after I’ve made plans to visit somewhere.
  • No duplicates. One animal in one color from each machine I encounter, no more.
  • No paraphernalia associated with the collection. No t-shirts, no pamphlets, no books, no broken Mold-A-Rama vending machines rescued from the dump, etc.
  • No more than 7 acquisitions in a single year.

If you have a collection, I recommend instituting similar rules to keep your treasures from turning into clutter. It’s always a good idea to institute limits for your collection that include budget, storage space, and acquisition guidelines. Also, if you live with another person or other people, make sure they’re okay with the rules you establish since they also have to share the space with you.

Remember, being an unclutterer doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t have collections — but it does mean taking an active role in ensuring your collection doesn’t become clutter.

50 Comments for “Uncluttered collecting”

  1. posted by amandalee on

    Erin, I love these rules. I’ve never seen those machines before – I might have to find one. I’m not a collector by nature, so I doubt I’d want to buy more than two or three to put on my desk, but it’d be fun.

    I’d love to see photos of your collection!

  2. posted by Ren on

    I have never seen the machines before BUT the wax lion posted here is the central theme of the pilot episode of Wonderfalls which was a 1 season-canceled early-but available on dvd show that was HILARIOUS!

  3. posted by Rachel on

    And now I have the Wonderfalls theme song stuck in my brain, thank you. (Anyone else miss the little red smoosh-faced lion?)

    My collection is luckily a lot smaller; I have pressed pennies from various places. I finally broke down and bought one of the little sleeves designed to store them, but hadn’t thought ahead to what I might do when it’s full.

  4. posted by Ginger on

    Hehe, those rules are very close to my own! I collect pressed pennies. I got a nice penny holder booklet from Disneyland a few years ago to keep them all in and it folds up nicely to a size that is smaller than a small book. I probably add a penny or two a year (don’t travel much) so the space in the book will last me a very long time.

  5. posted by ecuadoriana on

    AHHHHHH!!!!! I have a ridiculous collection of PIGS! Piggy banks, ceramic piggies, glass, bronze, plastic pigs, pigs that waddle, wiggle, and snort, realistic pigs, and somewhat comical pigs (but absolutely NO “insulting” pigs, like the horrible beer swigging drunken pigs that a friend gave me a few years ago- that one had to go to a yard sale)…

    I know, I know, it is crazy, maybe even a sickness, but every time I see little pigs I just get all giddy inside. I once cried like a baby when a favorite glass pig fell and broke. I felt like I lost a friend…

    So, like Erin, I’ve had to corral in my obsession into one curio cabinet (and not only because my hubby started looking in the phone book for therapists who specialize in pig obsessions!), because it was getting to the point where I was actually feeling a bit embarrassed when people came to visit!

    So- NO NEW PIGS!!! I can look, NOT touch, and definitely NOT buy! I remind myself that if I buy a new pig that means I will have to go home and get rid of one- and THAT I can not do! I can’t part with them!!! So, NO NEW PIGS!

    I’ve started making human friends instead, because they leave on their own and I don’t have to dust them!!! LOL!!!!

  6. posted by Sarah on

    I think you’ve described the difference between thoughtful collecting and indiscriminate amassing. I had been in the latter category for several things–books, Coca-Cola paraphernalia, keychains, t-shirts, buttons, piano rolls–until the third time I had to move all of that crap.

    Actually, I think the turning point was visiting a used bookstore with an entire room of Modern Library editions. Until then, I would snatch up all the ML I came across. Gotta catch ’em all! Seeing their collection made me realize the ridiculous futility of that.

    ALL of my “collecting” slowed down after that, although I certainly held on to what I already had. Then gearing up for this last move, I actively cut down on that, too. I took almost two hundred t-shirts to Goodwill, put nearly all of the Coke-themed stuff on Craigslist, and Freecycled…oh, I don’t even know what anymore.

    It was a year ago that we moved. I’m trying to identify a single “collectible” purchase since then, and I honestly can’t think of one. I bought textbooks for school, and because–bless those professors!–they’re continuing to be useful references, I’m keeping them. Right now I’m wearing a favorite old t-shirt I got free in the early 90s. And the Coke collecting is limited to pre-1957 bottles.

  7. posted by Alicia on

    I travel a lot for work and fun, and I collect postcards. I have been collecting them since my first school trips as a kid. When my friends and family go on holidays, I preemptively ask them to bring me a postcard for my collection – it is really inexpensive, so not a lot to ask, and it usually satisfies their souvenir-buying impulses. This is my way of dodging well-intentioned fridge magnets, snowglobes, paperweights and other knick knacks which are just clutter to me. What I love about postcards is that a simple shoebox can hold the memories from a hundred different trips. I also have some rules about buying postcards:
    – Only buy postcards of places I have seen with my own eyes. That specific lake, mountain, building or statue may be breathtaking, but if I have only seen it on a postcard, I have no reason to take it home with me.
    – Ideally, buy just one postcard per destination, or an absolute maximum of two: one more general, one more specific (e.g. a view of the New York skyline and a picture of the Statue of Liberty).
    – At museum gift shops, buy only postcards of works that really impacted me, and whose reproduction does them justice. If the painting is breathtaking but the postcard is just meh, why keep it forever? It’s not like I’m going to enjoy looking at it in ten years’ time.
    – At secondhand bookshops and antique stores, limit myself to 2-3 postcards which are really special or unique, preferably with a similar theme. I sometimes frame these and put them up on my wall for a while.

  8. posted by Another Deb on

    I am purging my gazillion rubber stamps right now and have three bagloads going to Goodwill today! The ones I kept on the first purge are having to justify their existence to me as I test each one:

    I must be able to see the design easily. (some are way too small or too worn to be a crisp press.

    They must be useful in scrapbook and card making, for instance a sentiment such as “thinking of you”

    I must not have any that are similar “thinking of you” type sentiments in font or sizes.

    I will keep a design if it is appropriate for stamping student papers. Animals, flowers, motivational messages.

    The condition of the stamps must be good. No warped or hardened rubber, no crumbly foam.

    If must fit into the storage space I am dedicating to the stamps. One dresser drawer in the craft space is all I am allowing for the stamps and pads. It was jammed full, hence the purge.

  9. posted by Sharon on

    Mold-a-rama flashback!!

    When I was a kid (late 70’s) there were mold-a-ramas on the Florida Turnpike. I got an alligator, and was completely fascinated by the process. I have never found anyone else who remembered those machines, and now I know their brand name.

    (and I do like your collecting rule of space. I collect tiki mugs, and they spill over sometimes.)

  10. posted by infmom on

    I’ve never seen a Mold-A-Rama in all my travels. Now I’ll have to look and see who’s got one. πŸ™‚

    I have, somehow or other, ended up with a lot of bears, mostly small ones, thank goodness. My kids bought them for me at Starbucks when they worked there. My husband has given them to me for my birthday. They are all cute. I like them all. But I have just flat-out run out of room to display them (they now occupy the two top shelves in the tall bookcase in the office).

    I finally bit the bullet and pointed to my display shelf and persuaded my husband, kindly, to notice all on his own that we don’t have any room for more bears. Now he’ll have to think of something else to give me for my birthday. πŸ™‚

  11. posted by Lady in a Smalltown on

    I have a white elephant from my second grade field trip. I actually called my mom a few months ago and asked her to look at it because I was trying to remember where the field trip was to because I was trying to help a friend plan fun stuff to do with her kids. Anyway…

    I just watched Wonderfalls this year, got the whole season from Netflix.

    I collect squashed pennies as well. I didn’t think I have any rules, but reading the other comments, I guess I do. I really only want them from my trips. (I used to have a friend that would bring them to me from her trips and then expect me to bring her shot glasses to add to her collection.) I have 2 books full of pennies. I try to get pennies that represent something I liked about the place or a new one if I have been there before. I also started a collection for my son last year when he was born. The first place we went I bought a sleeved booklet and a penny. We haven’t been anywhere since to get more, but I have a film canister with quarters and pennies in his diaper bag in case we run into a machine.

    My other collection is license plates from all 50 states and DC, plus the Canadian provinces, but not actual physical plates. Here are my stipulations:
    *The car must be in my (relatively small) hometown in Vermont or one of the 4 smaller towns surrounding it.
    *I have to see it.
    I take most of my photos in parking lots, but I have followed a few cars before to get one I didn’t have yet. I have been working on this project for 3 years and I have nearly all the states. Oddly, I have not taken pictures of the easiest states, the New England states, New York, and New Jersey. Those I can get in the grocery store parking lot. I just need North Dakota and West Virginia.

    These are both pretty clutter free collections, since pennies are small and the photos live on my computer. Which is a good thing, because I have so much other clutter in my house.

  12. posted by Christine on

    I have over 100 CDs of my favorite bands. Imports, promos, full length albums with bonus tracks, etc. I had to stop myself from buying more and more by telling myself that if the CD doesn’t have cover art I can’t buy it.

    I absolutely love this thread. I find the topic of “collections” to be fascinating as tastes differ so much!

  13. posted by MutantSupermodel on

    We’ve got a mold-a-rama in our local zoo (won’t tell you where so you’re not tempted LOL).

    Your idea for rules in a collection is brilliant. I have a similiar set of rules for my vinyl toys but mine are looser– then again, I don’t have much money to spend on the hobby anyways.

    What I find truly interesting is people who begin collections without even noticing they’ve done so. I remember reading about this phenomenon in a De-cluttering book where the woman hadn’t realized an obsession with ducks that had run rampant in her house. Well, I took a good long look at my house with that in mind and noticed I apparently am quite smitten with birds– nothing crazy by half but it was amusing.

  14. posted by Lisa on

    Brookfield Zoo near Chicago! I have dolphins and gorillas from the 1970s! Ah, remember the smell of burning wax??

  15. posted by Jess on

    This is so interesting to me because I have just about zero desire to collect anything (well, I’d love to have and display the Westerwald salt-glazed stoneware in my grandmother’s house in Germany…but I suspect many people are in line for that before me). I’ve gotten so into uncluttering I just can’t get too interested in stuff (I wasn’t a big collector as a kid either… maybe it’s a personality trait you have or don’t). Still, these are great rules I’ll keep in mind if the collecting bug ever bites.

  16. posted by Sarah on

    I have amassed a camel collection (the animal, not the cigarette brand) due to it being my college mascot. Although I very rarely buy anything for myself, anyone tempted to purchase an effigy is often deterred by The Rules: one hump only, must have a cute tail, and unrelated to the nicotine brand. Also helpful is the apparent lack of general public interest in this mammal. My sister and mother have had the best luck with post-Christmas nativity scenes on clearance.

    As a side note, I have been actively searching for a Mold-A-Rama version.

  17. posted by Erin S. on

    I used to have about 20 pitchers in mostly hand thrown pottery, now I am down to 4. My new goal is to look and admire, but I don’t need to own the beautiful pitcher. I can only use a couple in my kitchen to pour water or as a vase. I still own miniature Nativity figures, about six. I am not ready to get rid of them yet.

  18. posted by Rue on

    I have a collection of monkeys and Curious George things in my spare bedroom. I keep them all on a shelf (with the exception of the unusually large George who lives on the bed). My husband thinks they’re stupid but I can’t make myself get rid of them just yet. I haven’t bought any new ones in quite a long time though…

    The good news is that I’ve drastically decluttered everything else. πŸ™‚

  19. posted by mary b on

    Wow, I had one of those! It was a white wax elephant from a zoo in Florida…acquired somewhere around 1970. At the time I collected elephants, but for the longest time that is the only one I kept. It is long gone now, but thanks for the memory…and a great collecting tip!

  20. posted by Sue G. on

    Good rules, Erin. Thanks!

    @Ren & Rachel: Erin’s picture made me think of Wonderfalls too! “Make me a match!” Heh.

  21. posted by Ann on

    I have collected turtles since I was about 11. I have pared down the collection to a few beautiful crystal ones in our curio cabinet, a couple of ones that have useful purposes and the rest are packed away in a shoebox. I never look for them, they have to be “right in the face” and not too large. If it is right, I may get it. I may not. Not looking to own every turtle figurine or piece of jewelry in the world. The piece must speak to me – now, as an adult. (I gave away any stuffed turtles when I was in my 20’s). Rules are good for collections. Otherwise, you become a hoarder or the item you are collecting.

  22. posted by Kathy W on

    I used to collect penguins, but stopped & culled, as I was getting too many. I kept my 3 favorite & they’re on the windowsill above the kitchen sink.

    Now I collect whistles shaped like fish. I’ve been doing that for 30 years and in that time, have found 3. A friend gave me a 4th she found while traveling in Peru.

    My rule is to collect something so rare/unusual that people don’t find them in every gift & tourist shop & give them every birthday & Christmas.

  23. posted by LoriBeth on

    I have a collection of Ugly Santas. I have lots of rules for them. They have to be ugly (obvious), extremely cheap, and small. They also have to be found, I don’t go looking on purpose. I get one a year. It all started with this hideous little Santa candle holder that Mom got at a yard sale, she kept trying to throw it away and I kept rescuing it. I mean, it was sooo ugly. Not even in ‘so ugly, its cute’. I’ve almost imposed a rule of only wood carved ones, but relented last year of a Santa made out of a seashell and clay. They all fit on top of our curio cabinent from Thanksgiving to New Year’s and are packed away the rest of the time. They never fail to make me giggle foolishly at them. Why would anyone think they were anything but horrible?

  24. posted by Stella on

    I have managed to acquire hundreds of tee shirts over the years from running races, and I’ve had one sewn into a VERY HEAVY quilt that lives at my parents, but I will be making yarn out of at least 50 this weekend so I can crochet a floor rug. God knows thrift shops get plenty of ugly tee shirts.

  25. posted by Another Deb on

    Stella, great idea on the crochet project! My granny used to crochet very handy (and light) kitchen rugs from bread wrappers. I used one for many years and it was fun to look at as well as useful.

    I just realized another collection I have. My sister and I collect pictures the most outrageous things we see at the Goodwill. Digital fun, of course.

  26. posted by Handy Man, Crafty Woman on

    Those are some very strict rules for a collection! But I guess it’s good to have guidelines of some sort. One of my main rules for collecting anything is that I have to have somewhere to display the item before I bring it home.

  27. posted by Sheryl on

    Oh, I LOVE Mold-A-Ramas! I live in Michigan and the Henry Ford Museum is home to quite a few of them. The last one that I brought home was the Oscar Mayer Weiner Mobile (it was red and had that wonderful, waxy smell. Don’t you just love that??)I think the one before that was a bust of Abraham Lincoln. Also red.

    Collections. I think I have my teapot collection pretty much reined in (confined to one shelf in the kitchen and the china cabinet), but so far, I haven’t given much thought to rules in regard to my collection of vintage sewing machines. That could be a problem because of their size – just brought home my husband’s grandmother’s old Singer treadle machine – so I should probably start thinking about it before another one follows me home.

  28. posted by stephanie on

    I actually have about several of the Mold-a-rama animals. I live in Chicago and several of the zoos and museums have the machines. I think they are great, and my kids love watching the machine shake and buzz. And, the smell is great too. Other than that, my only collection is floaty pens. I keep them in a mug on my desk. They always make me smile, and it’s easy to keep my collection under control.

  29. posted by Maggie on

    Yes, I had those plastic molded animals from Brookfield Zoo, too! In terms of collections, I really like what organizer Peter Walsh had to say on some TV show or other: if you really love it, you have to respect it. You may collect it if you display it, clean and undamaged. If it’s sitting in boxes or in a corner or is dusty or needs repair or you can’t even SEE all your collection because it’s all on top of each other, or you’re going to display it “some day”, you aren’t respecting your items and need to prune them. This way of thinking helps me take better care of my stuff, and has helped me prune. Plus you end up having enough space to display your collection with pride.

  30. posted by Sara on

    I LOVE Mold-A-Ramas!! I just came across my rhino and gorilla. Of course they were just tossed in a box and the rhino was ruined – shame on me! Bad, clutter bug!(finger-wagging)
    Anyway, the gorilla is still good to go. I LOVE me a plastic gorilla πŸ™‚

  31. posted by l3j on

    I’m a pressed penny collector like the first couple commentators. I love them as a souvenir because they cost only 51 cents, take up a tiny amount of space, and are not available everywhere. So, I have to search them out, spend little money, and all that I have over 15 years of collecting, fill only the bottom of a small beaded box a friend gave me.

    I’ve never seen these animal figures before. I will keep my eyes open. Not to start a collection, but they are fascinating, and one or two might be okay!

  32. posted by [email protected] on

    What do the Mold-o-ramas mean to you? I can just barely understand the pressed pennies to remind you of a place, so is it the same thing?

  33. posted by Nina on

    Great rules and inspiring post, thanks! And cool comments from all readers too!

    Over the past few years I’ve received different objects of mainly glass, although some are ceramic as well. They are of varying size, shape, colour and function, and while I find most of them useful as well as beautiful to look at, they stress me when they are in a cupboard above the fridge and other difficult-to-reach places. Now, due to very limited space, I’ve packed them away for a couple of years until we move to a bigger place (we’re now in a one-room flat) so that I then can start collecting slowly and put them into a cubical cupboard with glass doors.

    There are vases, paper weights, objects used while eating and so on, and I’ll arrange them according to colour, because to my great surprise I’ve covered many of the “obvious basic” colours already. They really deserve to be looked at and also to be used more frequently, so I’d be happy to use a limited area of a kitchen wall or such to display them. But only there and nowhere else. And each object needs to “serve a purpose”, which may change with time, but that’s another day than today.

    The idea originates from Martha’s where I found a collection of travel memories in a shelving system made out of cubical boxes. I figure glass doors will keep some dust out while also protecting from curious fingers and paws. Can’t wait!

  34. posted by Jen on

    I collect cheap orchids. I’ll find the discount shelves at nurseries and grab up all the drooping orchids for a fraction of their original cost. Then I re-pot them, fertilize them, and wait for them to bloom again. It does cause a bit of clutter – I bought a little cart specifically for them. I’ve also had to deal with a nasty mealy bug infestation on my orchids, which was a huge pain. But there’s something about plants that puts them at a lesser level of clutter in my mind than other objects.

  35. posted by Liz on

    I, too, have a travel collection. I used to want to amass the cheesy trinkets from everywhere I’d been, but have learned that I don’t enjoy them or do anything with them (except have to dust them) after the fact…

    I’ve started buying jewelry on every vacation, and it is very satisfying! It doesn’t by any means have to be expensive, it’s usually something unique and a little off-beat, and something that I will wear and suits my personality. I have a gorgeous wooden cuff bracelet from Germany, a great watch I got in NYC,fabulous silver earrings from Finland, an alabaster bracelet I got at the MET, an antique brooch from a daytrip to Elora here in Ontario… I love to accessorize, and I wear them all, and the memories and attachment (not to mention compliments!) are much deeper than for any knick-knack on a shelf!

  36. posted by OogieM on

    I have slowly been collecting black sheep things. Since there are thousands of sheep items but very few Black Sheep items that really helps. So far the collection consists of 3 stuffed animals, 1 finger puppet and 1 small sculpture. I love them and have them where I can see and enjoy them daily.

  37. posted by Quilting Bibliophagist on

    I’ve never really understood people who collect things like penguins, or Mickey Mouse stuff, or souvenirs from tourist spots. I don’t see the attraction of buying them just to have them.

    However, I guess I do collect books — I have thousands of them — and fabric.

    I think that both books and fabric represent possibilities to me. I read and reread the books. (And at least plan to read the as yet unread ones.) And as for the fabric, well, I’m a quilter! A good stash of fabrics is the palette from which I work.

    However, as part of my effort to become less cluttered I have slowed down in acquiring both of these. I think I’ve had to admit that I now have more books in my library than I could possibly read in the rest of my life. And I’m try to make quilts most from my “stash” — only buying fabric that I particularly need to finish a project.

  38. posted by Toni on

    Do you have any figures from the Museum Of Science And Industry in Chicago? I live in Chicago and it’s my fave museum. I would be more than happy to enable..I mean, pick up one for you the next time I visit.

  39. posted by Toni on

    Oops. Hit send too fast. I have a collection of Jackie Collins hardcover book. I’ve always loved the way a hardcover feels in my hands and I like how they look on shelves. My mom got me hooked on JC when I was a kid. Hollywood Wives was the first book I read.

  40. posted by Marcie Lovett on

    I cannot believe these machines are still around! I had an alligator that I “made” in Florida, when I was a kid, long since gone.

    I cannot agree more with your setting up guidelines for your collection. I tell my organizing clients that they will be much happier once they have established some rules around their collecting. It allows them to keep the best representatives of their collections and get rid of the junk. It’s especially liberating for people who get gifts from well-meaning friends and relatives who want to add to the collection.

  41. posted by chacha1 on

    OogieM, there is a Black Sheep Winery in Murphys, California. Good stuff. πŸ™‚

    I used to collect like a magpie. Oh my, anything shiny. Carnival glass candlesticks, beads, rhinestone jewelry, little cat figurines, decorative boxes. But I was always kind of cheap about it so I didn’t end up with a large collection of anything, which meant that when I got over all that, it was pretty easy to cull out the things that were just acquired for the sake of the collection, and not because of their intrinsic beauty or value.

    I still collect small stones when we travel, and beads. My rules for both are I must be a) able to use them in my art or b) willing to display them. This really helps, because I don’t actually like having cluttered shelves anymore and the “display” threshold is consequently very high.

    DH and I both still tend to pick up small art objects – little pieces of pottery or art glass, usually – on our travels, and this is something we’ll need to be careful about, because there’s only so much space available. I’m getting better about taking photos of the pretty things instead of buying them!

  42. posted by Lexie on

    I was never allowed to get Mold-A-Rama’s from the zoo because my mom thought they were a waste of money. So last year I went back with my husband and was pleasantly surprised to see the machines still there.I got an elephant for my elephant collection!

    I love your rules on collections. It may seem like a lot, but we collect Coca-Cola memorabilia, elephants, rubber ducks, pig stuff, and coin banks. Sounds like a mess I know! But actually it’s quite contained. The Coke stuff is strictly for the kitchen (hanging signs, containers,etc.), the ducks are on shelves in the bathroom, pigs on a bookcase, and the banks on a bookcase as well. We only have a certain amount of designated space and if we get a new item, we donate another one.

  43. posted by Stefanie on

    I collect mermaids, but I don’t actually have a lot of them – some jewelry, one in stained glass, a couple of dolls and a tiny print from Hawaii from my brother and sister-in-law. My favorite is my mermaid tattoo – definitely not an issue for cluttering my apt.

  44. posted by suzjazz on

    I used to collect orchids (mostly miniatures, which take up less space)for years, and ended up with about 2 dozen, mostly struggling, half-dead ones that refused to flower again. Last year I finally faced my denial that my house is too dark to grow orchids without an elaborate grow light system which I can’t afford and which takes up a lot of floor space. I got rid of all the orchids except for 3.
    I gave away the plants that seemed to have some life left in them (though they won’t flower for my friends, either)and the rest ended up on my compost heap. Strangely, I had a great sense of relief once I got rid of them. I still love orchids, but I satisfy myself by going to orchid and flower shows. I no longer feel that I must own these ungrateful, non-flowering plants!

  45. posted by MaryB26 on

    I got rid of my Barbie pattern collection last month. I decided that it was time to let it go. I held a celebration party and gave them away to a new home. Prior to that I had given away all of my dolls. I am now trying to decide what to do with my collection of tarot books. The subject no longer holds my interest and I just want it out of sight, out of mind. I am paring down, trying to get rid of useless and needless things.

  46. posted by JC on

    When I was a child, my grandmother decided that I should collect dolls. I would receive them as gifts. Most were ugly and some actually had bad memories connected to them. I got rid of most of them years ago but still have a few. I am getting ready to really purge the last few. I think that taking photos will be the solution. It’s not like I look or touch them each day.

    I do have a small collection of small animal figurines in a shadow box on my wall. The box and some of the animals hung on a wall in a grandmother’s cabin. We have added animals. It brings back fond memories that I share with my children and there is definitely limited space.

    I do have a rather extensive fabric stash (I make my own clothes, quilt, and do various needle arts.) I have a few rules, but they are somewhat flexible. I do not buy trendy fabrics unless I have a specific project that will be made up within two weeks, less it becomes obsolete. Basics, like suitings and whites (I make christening/baptismal gowns) are purchased in bulk quantities only on sale. Accepting fabric gifts/donations is sometimes tricky. I have ended up with entire stashes from people’s deceased grandmothers/ aunts from which I have only kept one or two items and the rest went to the local charities. I have also been given the most beautiful fabrics (recently, a full bolt of English wool plaid from the 1950’s that is in excellent condition.) I do limit myself on patterns. Instead of purchasing new and expensive patterns, I cut out photos from magazines of ideas that inspire me, paste them in a well organized binder, and tweak patterns I already own. Quilts as gifts can be made from new and coordinating fabrics. Quilts for home are made from scraps- two bins full and I must make them up, doesn’t matter if the fabrics match well or clash. The quilts usually end up pretty exciting, and we are not afraid to take them outside for fear they will be ruined as they are made to be used.

  47. posted by Alizia on

    How can you find Mold-A-Rama machine locations?

  48. posted by Christine on

    I’ve never heard of these Mold-a-Ramas. Interesting, but I’ll probably never get into collecting them.

    What I did collect for a long time on travels were keychains. I have a ridiculous number of keychains. I had no rules for obtaining them – I had friends and family buy them for me, I bought them, I got all the free ones… Right now, they’re stored at my parents’ place because my mom decided to make a display case for about half of the keychains. Last time I visited, I looked at the keychains and was tempted to get rid of a lot of them. I didn’t (was stopped by my mom) but I’ll be making the argument to get rid of the cheaper ones again next time I go back.

    What I do collect now is Christmas ornaments. In an attempt to keep them from becoming overwhelming, I’ve instituted a few rules of my own.
    – If I buy one while traveling, it has to have the name of the place I visited on the ornament. No random Santas or reindeer.
    – Only one ornament per location. Multiple ornaments for a single location can only be bought if it’s been at least five years between trips.
    – Ornaments can only be bought from places I actually spend at least one day/two nights at. No ornaments from layovers or drive-thru states! And no ornaments from friends on their travels!
    – Non-travel ornaments are limited to Hallmark quality or higher DC Comics ornaments.

    Ornaments work great for me. I limit my accrual and I find that every holiday season, I enjoy the unpacking of the ornaments, remembering how I got each particular ornament, finding the right place on the tree, and looking at them for the season.

  49. posted by jacqueline on

    I wish I could be so strict on my own collecting. I have an obsession with pebbles and stones, and what started off as bringing home 1 or 2 pebbles from a beach trip, in the last 2 years has turned into coming home with pockets and bags full of them!! Problem is, they are getting bigger as well; a few weeks ago I came back from holiday with 2 boulders the size of footballs! they are on windowsills, in plantpots, on the floor, mantelpiece, boot of my car, boxes in the cupboards, old jam jars on shelves, etc etc. I am trying to curb the desire to bring back half of the beach and my last couple of trips I actually forced myself to through back half of them before I left the shore, saying to myself ;if its not perfect, I don’t want it.
    The plan was to include them in my mosaics, or jewellery work, but I seem to spend more time now collecting rather than making anything.

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