Mini driftwood broken sorted by size, mini stones, gravel and pebbles, beach sand, bird gravel, mini bricks and seashells, 1 coffee tin beer pull tabs, rusty metal, rust dust, real-world-sized rusted wood–splitting wedge, railroad spikes and flatirons, baby bird head-feathers (don’t ask), cigarette ashes, dental drill bits, horseshoe nails, dried creeping thyme, 4 lbs. of brass pins a millimeter too thick for sewing, and copper screen sections too small to be useful.
In a burst of energy the other day I emptied 8 boxes of mini supplies into, 1: the wastebasket, 2: the Find Someone to Send These To pile, and 3: the I Can’t Decide box. It’s a system I developed a few years ago while dealing with family bric-a-brac after my parents died. My project has been to go through at least one box a week, family or mini. Long ago our mini supplies outgrew the studio and workshop shelves and drawers, and spilled into coffee cans, pickle jars, and baggies to be shoved under worktables or stacked in the garage. Twelve years ago when we left Seaview, WA, I packed this overflow into small, tidy boxes, labeled them, then unpacked them in Astoria onto the shelves of what would have been our pantry. Many of them remain unsealed today.
This inventory shouldn’t surprise any of you who know us as miniaturists, because we’ve been handing out this essential stuff in our workshops for years. Hoarding is an affliction passed on to me by Noel. Back in 1971 when he took me camping in So. California at the then-remote Kern River, he began carting home the rusted tools and unidentifiable iron chunks we found in the rattle-snake-infested hills. These chunks moved with us, the cats and the plants, from Los Angeles, along with an old and particularly stinky bag of vacuum cleaner dust (because it had the right odor for old attics). Noel discovered the treasured vacuum bag one night en route from LA to Seaview when we were cleaning up kitty litter from a motel carpet. One day a year or so later, Noel arrived home from the dump—in those days we still had open dumps–with two blue-and-white speckled washing machine tubs—“Here,” he crowed, “strawberry planters!” I made him take them back. He came home with a pair of rubber boots and a rusted-out coke machine he traded right off the back of some other guy’s truck.
In an attempt to exonerate ourselves from accusations of blatant hoarding (we like to think of ourselves as Collectors), the aluminum beer can tabs were cut down for various appliance handles (imagine oven doors), the feathers were glued to our birdhouses, the cigarette ashes rubbed into Johnson’s Paste Wax to age flooring, the horseshoe nails used to anchor tiny pieces of glass for soldering stained-glass windows, the flat-irons and spikes to weigh things down while glue dried, and the bird gravel was glued over emery cloth to make a white roof for the Whittier, a So. Calif. bungalow. I never did find a use for the brass pins—they caught my eye in one of those surplus catalogs, and cost practically nothing…
Fact: The big rust became the basis of our Bug Juice brewing business, and we had to gather more when that was eaten away by the vinegar.
Fact: When we left Seaview we filled two big Dempsey Dumpsters to overflowing*.
Fact: I moved some of the stuff I threw away the other day from the wastebasket to the I Don’t Know box.
* Bob, the guy who built our miniature kits, took our dead couch out of the Dumpster and moved it into his living room. Yes, he lives alone.