Creating a Family History from Old Stuff or Collecting Junk?

I love old stuff.  Kitchenalia and household items really tickle my fancy.  There’s something about owning things that had a previous life with someone else that speaks to me.  Some things are used in ways that they were intended but other things, like the wooden spools in the picture, get used in new ways.  Instead of thread wound on the spools, i wind ribbon and craft trim so they don’t develop fold lines.

Displaying them in this large preserve jar is eyecatching and adds colour and an interesting dimension to the kitchen.

  I collect anything pre 1960’s kitchen related that is still useable.  The useability factor is really important to me because I don’t collect things just for the sake of having them; I use them.  This lemon reamer is made from depression glass.   It was found recently in an antique/bric-a-brac store in Tanunda.  I really want a green or uranium glass version of it.  I think half the fun is hunting for those less available pieces.  I really love depression glass; especially the green pieces.  I can’t even begin to imagine how hard life was during the depression when these pieces were as cheap as chips and often given away as ‘gift with purchase’ to help lift people’s spirits.  I try to imagine the family that once owned this piece and the type of cooking they might have done.

The old bread board underneath the lemon reemer was found on England’s ebay.  I ended up paying about two pound for it and postage was another 3 pound; what a bargain!  It’s got all the cut marks of a past lifetime of use in someones kitchen and all the promise of another lifetime  in my kitchen.  Who knows where it began its life but it travelled halfway around the world to Australia to be loved for many more years to come.  I have a few different old bread boards.  The ‘one the got away’ was a German Amish board that was intricately carved with a German biblical phrase about ‘daily bread’; as the more valuable boards are.

These Cloisonne brass napkin holders were scouted from my next door neighbour’s garage sale for $2.  I have a few more of different designs bought on ebay.  I wonder whose table they graced in the past?  I get a great deal of enjoyment when I have occassions  for them to adorn my table.

And this old dear belonged to my maternal grandmother Barbara.  She passed it on to my mother and in turn my mother  passed down to me.  Miss17 will have the honour and responsibility of taking it forward into future generations.  It is the only thing that I have of my maternal grandmother’s…My parents migrated to Australia with very few possessions, so this spoon is valued a great deal.

One of my favourite kitchen collectables is Greta…she’s an Art Deco kitchen pantry cabinet that was refurbished.  I found her in my local/favourite antique store.  I adore her…so that much so, that I named her after Greta Scaachi…another classic timeless beauty 😆

Another recent inexpensive ebay find is this ornate silver cocktail fork.  I’m really taken with the shape of the prongs and the ornate pattern above the prongs.

 My favourite depression glass piece is this fabulous green salt pig/container.  It gets used daily.  The linen is also pre-loved.  The best table cloths I’ve ever found were heavy cotton single bed sheets that I bought from a department store that sells pre-loved things; my kind of store 😆  Again, I only ever buy linens that I can use. 

This faux mother of pearl handled carving set is in fabulous condition and carves our occassional roasts beautifully.  Often the fork finger handle is broken or loose on old carving forks but this one has been lovingly cared for by its previous owners.

 I love the primitive nature of many kitchen utensils and this wood handled bread knife gives off that feel.  In my mind’s eye I can imagine a woman baking her own bread in a wood fired oven and carving fat warm slices of delicious bread to fill eager hungry mouths.

Old china is also attractive; even the pieces that aren’t hallmarked or those that come with chips and crazing can still have life and beauty.  I have dreams of having a large stack of unmatched old china plates for entertaining.  We like to entertain outside but don’t like to resort to plastic or paper plates, so old patterned china plates and old cutlery allows us to dine casually outside but with some sense of occasion.  So far my stack of unmatched old china plates is very small, but half the fun is finding the ‘right’ plates[s] to add to the stack 😀

My kitchenalia collection  is very connected to my cooking because I use all of the pieces in our daily lives and also to style for the blog pictures.  Each piece comes into my life with an unknown past allowing my imagination to run wild creating an imagined history; new things just dont have that element about them!   Yes, I am rather emotional and romantic about these old pieces.  It has crossed my mind that I like old things that have a history because we migrated to Australia with very few possessions.  Our family history isn’t in the form of passed-down-through-the-generations furniture or family heirlooms, except the spoon.  Instead our family history lives through my parent’s memories and the culture they brought with them.  Perhaps I’m trying to create a tangible history for my own children.  Or perhaps as some have said I’m just collecting junk.

Whatever the case, at very least I’m keeping perfectly useable kitchen and household ware from ending up in landfill…a worthwhile pursuit given our current environmental concerns.

6 thoughts on “Creating a Family History from Old Stuff or Collecting Junk?

  1. Oh be still my beating heart…i love depression glass…particularly the etched American glass patterns. I like ‘poinsettia’ made by the Jeannette glass company in the early 1930’s for about 4 years. I like both the pink and green but am collecting the pink in that pattern. I also like ‘sunflowers’ pattern made by Jeannette too, but that pattern is nicest in green IMO.

  2. Oh I love all this stuff and love reading about it! How wonderful! Also, I didn’t know about depression glass until reading this and then doing a little further research… so interesting!

  3. Settle down Gary – everyone knows that Greta wants to come live with me.

    Amazing post Suzi. I don’t think you collect junk at all, I think you are showing an incredible amount of respect for everyday objects that so many people are happy to replace with Kmart tat.

  4. Oh Mister Jones you crack me up as always! School takes far too much of your time away from those of us who enjoy your humour LOL

  5. Oh, my God! A lemon reamer is someone (I mean something) I have always wanted. Suzi, your new blog post is amazing. This whole section is so fun to read. You are in no way just collecting junk, especially not when everything photographs as well as it does here. AMAZING! Love it, love you, love everything about you. It’s rather sad (and I mean this completely selfishly) that you have people in your will, for I shan’t be able to “cash in on” Greta. Ah, well-a-day! Thanks for posting this for we lovers of Suzi Wong Enterprises. Speak soon.

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