Friday, March 4, 2011

I've Been Framed: Notes on Collecting and Framed Items

All my life I have been a collector, it is in my genes.  To me it is one of life's great pleasures.  Sometime, I will go into this more.  What I want to focus on here are the things that I collect that go in frames.  For years I have been collecting items that need to be framed in order to be displayed, many vintage things: posters, photographs, paintings, family photos, and maps.  My sketches, my photos, my brothers photos, or those of my mom.  Silk screened prints, rock posters, autographed photos, or perhaps an item that you wouldn't typically frame-most recently I framed a vintage looking empty potato bag.  The bag was given to us full of potatoes by our friends Pat and Dick that grow all sorts of vegetables.  From the moment they gave me the bag I absolutely loved the look of it.  The design was perfect and the colors would go perfectly in our kitchen (see photo below).  Everything that we frame has meaning, in how it was begotten, because of who gave it to us or what it is.  Sometimes it's just cool.  It need not be more, but it should have some meaning or story or reason why you were drawn to it.
The problem with collecting things that need to be framed is that you need the space to display them (and framing them can be expensive, there are however cheap means to doing so).  When we moved to the farm in December 2009 this was one of the things that I was most excited about; having a place to display all this art and antiques.  No longer would they live in a box full of other items waiting to be framed.

One of my favorite interior designers, Thomas O'Brien, writes about collecting, and how he designed the interior of his home "The Academy" in his perfect book: American Modern .  What he says about it is exactly how I feel about it.  The following are excerpts from his book: "A key part of the way I design has to do with collecting and combining.  You can generically call this decoration, but to my way of thinking this is the real landscape of a home; all the things that are most looked at, touched, appreciated, and cultivated.  I will find objects to fit a required space, and I will also pick things that I love and then figure out where to put them later.  That's how rooms begin to layer together, with different perspectives captured in the pieces of a collection; their varied histories, when they were found, and why they were chosen."
He continues: "Like every collector with more things than space, I had been saving furniture and art...for years in storage."  Enter our house.  He closes this topic by saying the following "So, the mix here is diverse; the house is certainly full, not spare.  But it's not at all filled with props.  And it's not all rare.  Everything has meaning."  I couldn't agree more.  Each thing we have framed and displayed has meaning.  You look at it and it's us.  One of a kind stuff.  You're not going to find it in mass quantity at some box department store.
Here are photos of some of the things (I still have a box full of items but it is getting smaller) that I have collected over the years...and finally have displayed at Czar of the Woods Farm.  Enjoy!  I didn't get into all the amazing photos that my mom, a talented hobby photographer, and my brother, a professional free-lance photographer, have given us over the years.  One day I will post about those.

This is a spyrograph that my brother Todd and his wife Jenna made using a vintage spyrograph kit and used as a birthday card for me.  It is framed and hangs in our hallway.

This is a sketch that I drew when I worked in theatre.  I, one day, found myself having to sit and wait 100ft up in the air on the catwalk in the flyspace at UB's mainstage theatre.  Luckily I had a sketch pad and pen with me.  This is what I drew and for some reason have always cherished this drawing.  It was the album cover for a demo that my band, the Stephen Hero, put out ~12 years ago.  It hangs near our front door.

We bought potatoes from our friends Pat and Dick and they came in this amazing bag.  I love the old timey farm quality of it.  We framed it and it hangs in our kitchen which is a perfect spot.

This is an antique atlas from 1931 and it too has this perfect old timey farm feel to it.  The whole book is in the frame and it too is in our kitchen.

I collect old maps and this is one of my favorites due to the cover.  Love the simple design and color scheme.

This is a post card that my Dad sent to my mom before they were married when my Dad was shipping off to Vietnam in the late 60's.  He was in the Air Force.  This is one of my favorite things.  Gives me a glimpse of who my parents were before they were my parents.

The main piece in our dining room is a very large table that we created from an 8ft long section of a bowling alley lane.  We call it the Big Lebowski.  How fitting then that on the wall next to it is a photo that I took in college of Town Edge Bowling Alley in Kaisertown, NY.  Shortly after this, even though the lanes are still in operation, they took this sign down.  I wish I had that!  I had this photo blown up quite large.  For some reason it reminds me of Texas...

And yes, my framed photo of the Dude, Jeff Bridges (aka Jeff Lebowski), from the film the Big Lebowski along with some other bowling related items...
These items are in the "bowling alley" dining room as well.  The framed photo is one of my favorites that we have.  It's of a local bowling alley as well.  Love the composition in her photo.  The small copper box is very much an antique.  We used to carry our wedding rings on our wedding day.  Love it!
And yet another set of photos from my mom that she gave to us.  She very quickly became a very good photographer after getting her first real camera not long ago.  

Bought this poster from the inaugural season of the Shaw Festival for $5 at a garage sale!  LOVE this piece and I would imagine it is worth quite a bit.

This is a vintage stencil of the United States...not sure what that Mexico is spelled wrong on it.  This hangs in our foyer.

These are two original photos of my maternal grandfather, Leo, from World War II in Italy.  He was in the army and painted the ambulances.  The creative/artistic side that is so much a part of our family can very much be attributed to him.

We designed our bathroom to have a 1950's retro look to it (white, grey, black and pink) and I have 2 of my favorite photos that myself took hanging in there.  They are from a trip to NYC.

This is another of my favorite maps.  It is a flight map for Lufthansa Airlines from 1957.  I love the cities on it and all the lines.  Such a cool piece of design!

In our kitchen hangs this vintage Milk Ad magazine.

Quite possible the oldest thing we own and the keystone piece of our living room is this school house map dating back to the late 1800's  It is AMAZING!  Pat and Dick gave it to us when they thought it needed a new home where it could be displayed.  THANK YOU!

I look at this piece every day when I leave the house.  It is the vintage hair piece that my wife, Sarah, wore in her hair on our wedding day.  For our first wedding anniversary back in 2007 I framed it and gave it to her as a gift.  Every time I look at it it brings me back to that perfect day!


Carole said...

Eric....I love ALL of your collections!!!! The framed ones look so nice on your walls!! I'll have to post my 'Collection' story on my blog one day. The vintage comb that Sarah wore for your wedding is one of my looked beautiful on her...I'm so happy that I found it at an antique store...just think, some other young woman wore it many, many years ago, probably during the 1920s. I was hoping to see some of the photos that I gave you here....maybe next time!!


Carole said...

Thank You!!!!