Don’t Laugh – Martha Stewart Has Her Uses!

I was flipping through Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Crafts (don’t laugh) and, while she is the woman we often love to hate, alas, there is no way to deny her brilliance and empire-building skills.  The key, I think, is to take those ideas that inspire one and create way cooler and hipper variants.  There is also much to be said for her organizing talents, for which she is an unattainable model, but in the service of which she no doubt has countless minions to do her bidding.

On another note (that will become clear in a moment), I have a new approach to household problem solving.  For example, we recently realized our single necklace hook was overburdened with the number of necklaces and all the chains were constantly getting tangled whenever we tried to remove just one.  We went out and bought a set of three bird head hooks which work better.  But, under the new approach, we would instead say: “how can we make something that will serve the purpose and will be unique rather than mass-produced?  It’s a matter of taking what is already a general philosophy of ours (valuing craft and the handmade over the ubiquitous) and applying it to almost everything, aside from tools, appliances, and such (obviously we don’t have the skills to make ourselves a new couch – yet).  In other words, reclaim the creativity that is your birthright!

I was equally enthralled with another library book: The Salvage Studio, in which three ladies living around Seattle re-purpose all kinds of “junk.”  Using an old refrigerator coil for a wall display was one of my favorites.  They have trained themselves to view every item with an eye to what other purposes it could serve.

Now, if we were to actually retrieve every odd thing and potentially useful object we found or salvaged – where would we store it all?  Here is the central dilemma.  How to reconcile Martha Stewart’s aesthetic of tidy organized spaces (which I do somewhat envy) with that of real-world clutter (the world in which many of us actually dwell)?  Compare Stewart’s carefully composed environments with some of the shots of interior spaces in another idea-generating book: Interior Alchemy by Rebecca Purcell.  In this book it becomes clear that every object deserves a resurrection.  These are likely also carefully composed scenes, but completely different aesthetically.  Shelves full of arcane and amazing things, all with signs of distress that are traces of a lived history.  I love many of the objects in Purcell’s book, but couldn’t imagine having to dust those artful arrangements.  Although, the author Quentin Crisp noted that if you stop dusting, the layer of dust will never get to be more than 1″ thick!  I have yet to test that theory.

If you have any suggestions short of renting a storage unit (which I am morally opposed to doing), please send them.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa Hilderbrand
    Jan 18, 2011 @ 18:12:13

    Thanks for reading my book, The Salvage Studio! I must say it is a slippery slope…rescuing items and where to store them. Many of my favorites don’t fit into any ‘usual’ storage options. I have a section of the garden (most people would call it the back yard!) where I store stuff to ‘rust’ properly. My best success on the other items is to store like-with-like. And I keep little things in glass containers…If I can’t see it, I forget I have it. Visit me on my new adventure….Lisa’s Little House.
    Nice to meet you in blogland!


    • Sandra Seekins
      Jan 18, 2011 @ 21:12:41

      Thanks for reading and commenting Lisa! I’ll definitely visit your new adventure. Most of the stuff I find is
      rusty already, so it’s more about finding places to put it where some brown-orange dust won’t make a difference!


      • Lisa Hilderbrand
        Jan 19, 2011 @ 06:40:31

        Oh…the old, brown-orange dust…I know it well! If I clean the rusty object and then wax it, it helps. The wax stops the oxidation and gives a modicum of protection to surrounding items.

      • Sandra Seekins
        Jan 20, 2011 @ 00:30:05

        And you have some great recipes for cleaning in your book The Salvage Studio.

  2. lou
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 23:43:34

    One inch of dust, max. How can that be? I don’t understand. Does that mean that dust disintegrates at a certain point? or that there is a finite amount of dust in any one dwelling? Where, oh where, is science when ya need ‘im? How long would it take you to test the theory and get back to me?


    • Sandra Seekins
      Jan 20, 2011 @ 00:36:03

      Well, Lou, Quentin Crisp has already tested the theory, but he’s no longer alive so we can’t ask him that question! I think the dust must just compact to a maximum thickness. However I know little about the molecular properties of dust. Although I’m sure there is someone out there with enough money to throw at a research institution so that they can do a real scientific study. The last such study I recall was one which demonstrated fruit is more stable and less likely to collapse when packed in a pyramid shape – my brother the produce manager could have told scientists that for free!


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