"A day without laughter is a day wasted.” – said Charlie Chaplin, one of the great buffoons on screen. Clowns have a long tradition of breaking the rules for our amusement and their antics provide us with a momentary escape. My next collector has found her clown collection to be both a treasured repository of memories and a source of delight.
Can you tell me a little about your background?
I am a mother of 3 adult children; my oldest son is 31, lives in Boulder and is an artist / glassblower; my daughter is 28, living the life she loves in Brookyn, NY and a very successful and well respected community organizer and my youngest son is 21, finishing his senior year at UCONN and hoping to attend Medical School in the fall. I am retired from a medical transcription job of many years and for the last 3 years, I have been doing what I love ~~~ collecting and selling everything vintage. www.rileybellavintage.etsy.com and www.looseendsvintage.etsy.
I am 59 years old, though I had to admit it, because my mind tells me I'm only 25!~ I am a New York gal, having lived most of my life in NY and moved to Connecticut 9 years ago because of my husband's job.
For the last 3 or so years, I have been tending to my two etsy shops; one caters to women's fashions. The other was an afterthought for everything else vintage that I would come across, found appealing and thought someone else would love just as much. I love doing what I do, and my only regret is not starting a very long time ago.
My formal education is an Associates Degree in Office Administration, which is now obsolete. My real education, in terms of quality clothing and housewares comes from my mother. She was a buyer and at a very young age, and for many years, I would accompany her on her shopping trips to lower Manhattan, where she would haggle with the local merchants, focusing on jewelry and fine lingerie.
I collect everything and anything that I love. Since I recently inherited a collection of clowns, passed to my sister from my mom and now to me, I am going to continue with this collection. There are only 8 clowns at the moment, some Capodimonte (I never knew they made clowns), from the 1970s and 1980s. I also collect Lladro and Nutcrackers (I currently have over 100 of those) and only take them out once a year. My collection of nutcrackers started when my oldest son was 2 and my husband and I went for a weekend trip to Vermont. That is where I purchased the first one, a pretty expensive "real" German one. When my daughter was born a few years later, I decided I would get her one. Then I decided every year for Christmas they would each get one. That is how the collection grew. When my kids were younger, they used to put on a "play" with their Nutcrackers for me and my husband. I mark the bottom with the year and who it belongs to. At some point, I will disperse them all to their rightful owners and hopefully they will continue the tradition. So, as you can tell, they do hold very dear memories for us.
How did you get started?
I got started on this collection only recently. My sister claimed them when my mom passed 11 years ago. She has always had a big home and was able to showcase so many of her beautiful collections. Since her husband was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's, it was in their best interest to move to a smaller, more practical apartment. She can no longer keep them and passed them on to me. I am so happy she gave them to me, as they look beautiful in my home and make me smile!
What attracted you to collecting them, in other words, why?
This collection of clowns and my new interest is really an accident. When my sister told me she wanted to give them to me, I really wasn't sure I wanted to start another collection or even liked clowns all that much that I wanted to collect them. My daughter thinks clowns are creepy. However, once I took a good look at them, I fell in love. I remember them being showcased in my mom's dining room glassed hutch, but growing up, never really gave them much thought or even thought they had any value. Now that I see them, I feel this urge to keep on searching for more!
What are the best and worst aspects about being a collector?
The best thing about collecting is the beauty and the memories. The worst thing is the space and dusting! Plain and simple. I only collect what is dear to my heart. I don't collect for value or with the idea of selling. These are my own personal collections; things my children have grown up around and hopefully will bring them many happy memories as they go on to have their own homes.
What is the holy grail of your collection? That is, what is it you are keen to get your hands on that you don't have?
Hmm, Holy Grail of my collection?? Not sure how to answer this one. Not knowing that much yet about clowns and collecting them, I'm not sure what I will be looking for next. But I am always in antique and thrift stores, and I know I will gravite now to clowns. The older the better. I love everything old.
Finally, how do you think your collecting has impacted on your life?
The last question made me a laugh a bit. I think it has impacted my family's life more than mine, in particular, my husband, who is getting to the age where he wants simplicity. So I try to keep things simple and orderly, as best I can, displaying my pieces on shelves in an orderly and attractive fashion. As for how collecting has impacted me, it has opened up many emotions for me. Most of my collections remind me of a particular event, something from my past, something that made me smile or laugh, always wonderful memories associated with my collections. My Lladro collection reminds me of when I first got married and could afford to collect those. My nutcrackers bring back many wonderful Christmas memories and loving thoughts of my family and children. This newest clown collection will always keep my mom present in my home. After all, she is the reason I have the passion I have. And when I look at those, I know she is still here with me.
Thank you JoAnn! Do you have a collection you would like to share? Please contact me.