human behavior

The crafty hoarder

Posted in Art, Crafts, Home improvement by humanb on September 26, 2012

At least half a dozen nurses at my hospital ER have commented on my pen supply.

Every morning I pull my stash out of my bag to select three or four pens in decent working order to pocket for the day. As I go through my shift, I inevitably find one or two discarded, neglected or forgotten pens on a table top somewhere and pocket those too.

My work day ends with my assimilating my now larger pocket collection into my coveted stash.

As my husband would say: The perfect crime.

Whenever a nurse sees my stash, she always asks:

What the hell do you need all those pens for?

I proceed to explain that I worry about being without a pen when I need one.

You’re a hoarder! an English nurse once accused.

I calmly explained to her that on the contrary, I was simply a collector. I collected other things as well: foreign coins, movie stubs, airline tickets, birthday cards, candlesticks, yarmulkes (in my tween days of frequenting synagogues for bar mitzvahs), seashells, driftwood, twigs, newspapers featuring important world events.

A collector.

That’s just yuppy for hoarding!Β the ward clerk chimed in.


I was more offended by the “yuppy” designation than the suggestion that I might have had some sort of psycho-behavioural pathology.

And anyway, I don’t. Or at least, my mother-in-law has got it worse.

She collects her dog’s hair.

And bird bones.

So as part of my redecorating efforts in my mother-in-law’s house while she was away, I searched for a suitable collection of hers that could be liberated from a dusty bookshelf and artistically displayed for her regular enjoyment. After all, what’s the point of collecting stuff if you never have occasion to look at it? And if you never look at it, why the hell not chuck it in the bloody bin? (Yeah I know, ‘Doctor heal thyself.’)

So here’s what I did with her coaster collection:

Most of her coasters are from her frequent trips to Germany, and this isn’t all of them, of course. But much of her collection consists of duplicates, so this is a fairly accurate representation of the extent of the collection. Many of these coasters were double-sided, so duplicates were pasted side-by-side, showing the different sides of one sample.

The coasters were mounted on deep canvas covered in pages from a German language book – I can’t remember which. But the subject of the book was completely unrelated to coasters. Or beer. I know that much. Of course, only my mother-in-law would know how little the background had to do with the foreground. I don’t read German.

Now on the wall, the collage looks fun and quirky, but I wonder if it doesn’t need a frame to keep it from floating in a sea of white.

Perhaps it does. But framing is expensive, and I’m on a low-budget craft tear at the moment. And this project was the cheapest, easiest and least labor intensive of them all.

Which makes me love it all the more.



10 Responses

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  1. dorothyadele said, on September 26, 2012 at 7:37 am

    Great Idea!

  2. Anonymous said, on September 26, 2012 at 8:39 am

    Taking the things you collect and creating art is one way to really enjoy them. I did the same thing with a few boomerangs I had collected. Everyone who comes to my home and sees the display loves it.

  3. lolly0 said, on October 1, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Why, oh WHY does she collect her dog’s hair and bird bones? lol

    • lolly0 said, on October 1, 2012 at 9:00 pm

      Oh! And I’m a pen “collector” too. I’m always laying one down and forgetting where I put it, so I always carry about 3 or 4 in my pocket. The patients would giggle when my hair was longer and I’d wear it up. I’d stick my pen in my hair, then because my hair’s so thick and curly I’d forget it was there and go searching for a pen. lol

      • humanb said, on October 1, 2012 at 10:20 pm


    • humanb said, on October 1, 2012 at 10:19 pm

      lol. Her dog does admittedly have the softest hair any human or animal has ever had. As for the bird bones, hmmm. Not sure. But I’ve got plans for those… πŸ˜‰

  4. heyjude08 said, on October 1, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Everyone needs a daughter-in-law like you! Showing things off properly for all to see is probably an important difference between hoarding and collecting but did my kids often laugh at me for showing my beautiful bugs, bird bones and leaves on the kitchen shelves? Maybe it just wasn’t permanent enough. (Sigh.)

  5. Valerie said, on January 3, 2013 at 6:42 am

    Ooh, I love this one too! πŸ˜€

    • humanb said, on January 3, 2013 at 6:45 am

      Thanks! Another very doable project for anyone. Ta. πŸ™‚

      • Valerie said, on January 3, 2013 at 6:49 am

        I think it’s the symmetry that appeals to me so much. The spacing and even-ness. πŸ˜‰ It allows me to be able to look at it without focusing on the shape/size, etc. I’m going to have to see if I have something I could do this with…

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