I haven’t seen “Hoarders”, but The New York Times Magazine for Dec. 20 has a review of the show. I had read a fascinating article in The Smith Alumnae Quarterly about a psych class where students found that there was not only a lack of vocabulary to describe varying levels of disarray in homes but that some people were very uncomfortable with a small amount of chaotic accumulation while others seemed to tolerate a lot more before becoming disconcerted about it. The students filled a room with crushed papers and took pictures as the empty space got smaller and smaller. They then used the pictures as tools for patients unhappy with their clutter to point to as an aid in describing the degree of messiness in their houses. The reasons cited for keeping things were much the same in both articles; either for sentimental reasons, because the item was valuable, or because something about it was attractive (a paper in a particularly pretty shade of purple for instance), and typically, hoarders mix valuable things with potential reffuse because it becomes too overwhelming to make decisions about what to toss, and typically also, they think they will tackle the pile someday….
I am not a hoarder thankfully, but I’m often reminded of the law of physics that says it takes energy to create order out of a chaotic state, and I do have a couple of related afflictions (namely, miniatur-itis and collage artist-itis) which render me very understanding of the aforementioned plight. Sometimes I think it’s a curse to be resourceful, to find potential in every scrap and to recognize the importance of reusing and recycling. I too see the value in pretty little shiny papers and I love finding odd items at flea markets and envisioning creative ways to use them in a miniature context. Here are a couple of examples: a “Tiffany” lamp I made out of a chess pawn (my dad’s favorite game), some acorn cap dishes, a bar of soap carved from a shell, and wire utensils, all made when I was a little girl,
and a more recent shop made from an abandoned, upended desk drawer (the curtain was fashioned from an old pleated blouse of my mother’s).
As for uses for paper, there are literally worlds of possibilities. In this piece I looked for just the right curves in the printed and marbled surfaces and let what I found tell the story.
If the things you’re collecting are materials to fuel creativity, the trick seems to be to store your collections in an organized and accessible fashion. Since starting this post, I have watched a couple of episodes of “Hoarders”, and found it to be truly frightening (as have several of my creative friends!). Understandably, it’s vital to keep a lid on it, to know what you have and where to find it, or else the accumulation in its randomness, just gets in your way.
The cover from this week’s New York Times Magazine looks pretty cluttered to me but a few snips will give it a new order in short measure.