Saturday, June 16, 2012

Cabinet of Wonders

As a child, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always answered "naturalist". I'm pretty sure I learned the word from Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom (which I watched religiously) or possibly Captian Kangeroo. I spent hours in the woods watching wildlife. I sat in trees reading. And natural history museums are still my favorite.

I also loved collecting leaves and rocks and fallen nests from the wilds and placing them on a bookshelf in my room (along side Trixie Belden books and Breyer horses). I've been a collector since I can remember. I'm sure I would have fit right into the late 19th century and, there is no doubt, I would have been fascinated by my peer's Curiosity Cabinets. I definitely would have loved creating my own cabinet of wonder.

Years ago I collected some old type set drawers from a yard sale (way before they became popular and expensive). I also have multiple vintage cabinets lying around the garage and barns (they've moved with me several times). I bought them because I fell in love with the artist Joseph Cornell's work and had planned on creating some mixed media artwork of my own in the fashion of the Victorian curiosity cabinets. I am still fascinated with mixed media.

Lately, however, I've been feeling a bit smothered by all of my treasures. I have really decreased my thrifting in the past 6 months and am being really selective in what I actually bring home. I've been sorting and purging my homes (both the IN home and the KY apt). I have a mountain of stuff for my sister's garage sale in August or September. I have stuff going back to the thrifts.

Because I have this weird life/work arrangement, I find I have little time for...well, for anything! I feel like I work for my employer throughout the week and then work for my house and belongings on the weekends. I am constantly moving piles of crap and I have so many unfinished projects (e.g. painting, artwork, garden work, reading, etc.), I've lost count.

At some point, I just need to tell myself I am never going to start (or finish) a particular project. You have to tell yourself to stop hoarding because you are never going to:

A. Sew anything from the plethora of vintage sheets.
B. Make cool collage artwork from the boxes of ephemera.
C. Create interesting curiosity cabinets or mixed media artwork.

Of course, it's easy for my to type this now, but how do you convince yourself to let go when you stumble upon inspiration like the following?


Now I really want to finish my Cabinet of Wonders. I also want to read Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonders by Lawrence Weshler. So, what do you keep in your Curiosity Cabinet?


Rae - Say It Ain't So said...

i love the idea of a curiosity cabinet! and i am with you on the piles and projects that you never get too. and i've only been really seriously collecting for about 4 years! i'm hoping my antique case will help out.

Gina said...

Oh, yeah, a cabinet is definitely going to help! And 4 years quickly goes to many, many more! ;)

Did you check out that last link. Wow, that woman has a lot of stuff!