Thursday, September 30, 2010

Junk 101

Black cabinet filled with Ironstone and Transferware.
 How does one "JUNK?" a friend recently asked me. I sat in awe. Mouth hanging open. Eyes glazed over, trying to process her question. Frankly, the frightening thought that there are people who don't know how to JUNK -- where to JUNK -- or just what "Junkin'" actually means shocked me. Even in the crisp Pacific Northwest air, I actually broke out in perspiration -- (after all, Southern girls don't sweat! Ha!)
My friend's wonderful question led me to consider the basics of Junk -- Junk 101, if you will.
Junkin' begins with the "WHAT." Every good Junker needs something to look for. I have a mental list. Stuff I love and collect. Stuff I love and sell at antique shows. Stuff I repurpose and reuse in our household.  And all the stuff I just don't know I love because we haven't met each other yet. For most of my adult life I've lovingly taken on vintage furniture cast-offs, old textile orphans, and stacks of forgotten antique postcards and magazines. 
A glorious mix of Crazy Quilt color.
My junking life began innocently enough. One Sunday afternoon a 50 percent off estate sale sign caught my eye. Sweet Hubby and I were recently back from an overseas tour of military duty and going to university full time. We were low on cash, but that didn't dissuade me from wanting to make our recently purchased little house off-campus a home.
Nothing Wasted

 "Let's go," I told him. Always the Sweet Hubby, he turned the car and followed the signs. Minutes later, my love affair with old stuff began. My heart skipped a beat when I saw this Crazy Quilt. I loved its autumnal silk fabrics and little embroidered hand prints. Then I saw the backing -- a fabric garden of roses -- even patched together when the quilter ran out of the green material and used blue. Some one's love stitched into each silken patch. It was $75 at half off. Too much. I must have looked broken-hearted as the woman conducting the estate sale looked at her watch and said, "How 'bout $50?" It meant a menu of beans and rice and Mac & Cheese for a few weeks, but I convinced Sweet Hubby it was well worth it. He knew there was no chance for conversation and we went home with our new old Crazy Quilt. Twenty-two years, two children, numerous pets, and cross-country moves later, this sweet old quilt still steals a beat from my heart when I pull it out each autumn. Well worth the endless Mac & Cheese dinners.
Rooster and Hen S&P just like grandma's.

Many other collections have evolved at our house since. Many years ago, there was the search for the perfect rooster and hen salt and pepper shakers. Now presiding in the cupboard, the pair still remind me of Sunday family dinners at my paternal grandmother's house when I was a child. I can almost smell the fried chicken, cream corn, fresh green beans, mashed potatoes, biscuits, and gravy. 
Western items from my TX grandparents' estate.
There are my maternal grandfather's spurs from his teenage days of riding horses on his family's farm in southeast Texas, which led to another collection of tooled leather coin purses and western postcards.

Old stuff inspires me.
 There's my endless fascination with handmade goods, hand-written letters, autograph books, and costume jewelry. Bits and pieces tucked in around our home.
Collecting bits of nostalgia that takes me to other times and places, if only for one or two quick moments. Good memories. Collecting the past and respectfully holding it close. Sharing it with others who share this quirky desire to collect and display old stuff that's what keeps me on the road still looking for more treasures -- yes, junkin'.

Bits and pieces I use in my necklaces and garlands.
I'd love to hear how other Junkers got started collecting. Do you remember your first find? Where was it? What was it? Please comment and share your thoughts.

Collected Treasures

Today's Good Stuff:
1) Red maple leaves
2) Autumn Antique Shows
3) Front Porch Wicker Rocking Chairs
4) Buttermilk Biscuits and Apple Butter
5) Open House at School

Thanks for coming along for the ride! Next time I'll have a few thoughts about WHERE to go Junkin'.

Peace, love and all the good stuff, y'all!


  1. Ah ha! Thanks for the hints, Lisa! So, is there a difference between "good junk" and "bad junk"? Anything one should avoid?

  2. Hi, Susan! Gee, a difference between "good junk" and "bad junk"? Well, it's definitely "an eye of the beholder" thing. To me, most stuff after 1970 is "bad junk." But there are many mid-century - retro 1970s collectors, and I've got to respect that. (It says more about my age than my taste I think.) ;-)
    The important thing is whether or not you like it and it makes you happy. If so, it's a keeper. Avoid all items that don't make you happy and feel like a burden.

    Thanks for commenting. And thanks for coming along for the ride. See ya down the blacktop soon! Happy junkin'!

  3. Hi Lisa! Great blog post!!! We are very excited to have you join us for "JUNK SALVATION!" See you soon...
    Dixie & Linda
    Funky Junk Sisters

  4. Hey, Dixie & Linda!

    Wow! THanks for the kind words you guys.

    I'm really looking forward to doing "Junk Salvation" in a couple of weeks. It's going to be junktabulous and a lot of funnn!! Very exciting!!

    Thanks for coming along for the ride. I will definitely be seeing y'all down the blacktop soon! ;-)

    Peace, love, and happy junkin' to y'all!