Hoarding vs Collecting, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Orange

What looks orange, but is really “radioactive red”? It’s Fiestaware of course…

Radioactive Red Fiestaware

“Radioactive Red” Fiestaware – am I hoarding or collecting?

I imprinted on my mother’s Fiestaware, so when it came time to have dishes of my own, Fiesta is what I wanted. That was before the new issue Fiesta that’s now in stores. My dishes came from beloved friends and relatives who passed theirs on to me, and of course from thrift shops. When Fiesta got trendy, and thrift store prices went up, I quit buying. I still remember passing up a stack of my then-favorite cobalt blue dinner plates at a St Vincent DePaul’s shop because they were charging (gasp) $1.00 per plate.

The streamlined look, the vivid colors, and the connection to the past are what attract me, but do I use my Fiestaware often enough to justify keeping it?

Spending time in waiting rooms last week, I read this in the recent issue of Oprah Magazine:

“The truth is: real collectors focus on, say, vintage lustreware, know the value of the items they have, and are always on the hunt for new pieces. What they don’t do is stash them in a trash bag under the bed. ‘A true collection,’ says Gail Steketee, PhD, dean of Boston University School of Social Work and an expert on hoarding, ‘is one that is kept in some sort of logical order and that you can show off.’ If you love your things, don’t you want to see them?”

And a little art-reading, from Phillipe De Montebello and Martin Gayford’s Rendez-vous with Art:

“Not long ago Damien Hirst said ‘Collecting is like stuff washed up on a beach somewhere, and that somewhere is you. Then, when you die, it all gets washed away again.’ A collection is, then, an expression of a personal vision: in a way, a work of art in itself. But collecting is also — both for individuals and institutions — a compulsion.”

Now, evaluating what’s in my cupboards, I’m thinking about what to keep and what to let go.  If it’s my “collection” I need to get it out, to see and appreciate. Else, I’m hoarding, and I should let the stuff go to someone who’ll use or display it.

Dining Room with Fiestaware

Dining Room with Fiestaware (yes, it’s been a while)

But back to that orange, or rather “radioactive red” — it’s true. A small amount of uranium oxide was used in the glaze. That color was dropped from production during World War II, when “Fiesta red went to war.” (The Collector’s Encyclopedia of Fiesta, Sharon and Bob Huxford)

What are you collecting or hoarding? (and is it radioactive?)

17 thoughts on “Hoarding vs Collecting, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Orange

  1. Orange as radioactive red. I like that description, Sandy, very clever. $1 per plate sounds very cheap to me. In Australia, unless you go to the countryside, plates cost around $3 up per piece. Shocking.

    “If you love your things, don’t you want to see them?” So agree with you there. I collect stuffed plushie monkeys and have them on display on my shelf and bed in my room. My dad, however, are a different story. Over the years my dad bought many kinds of plates or kitchenware, nice Chinese patterns on them. We have never used them, or rather he doesn’t want to use them. They are stashed away in the cupboard so they will look nice and new forever 😀

    • Yes, the $1 plates were a long time ago, and they’re more expensive now. I was too frugal to keep buying — I preferred the price of 5 to 25 cents. Your Dad and I: we should at least get glass doors for the cupboards so we can see our stashed-away plates, right? I used to use mine before I had a dishwasher. Most antiques aren’t dishwasher-safe, and now I’m too lazy to wash them by hand.

      • You are frugal like me. I think a plate for more than a dollar costs too much. You still CAN get them, but more often than not, their decor ain’t too aesthetically pleasant to the eye.

        Yes, get glass cupboards to see your collections! I actually do not use the dishwater. Not only does it use a lot of water but I fear what will happen to my cutlery behind that dishwasher door.

  2. I am loving, and taking inspiration, following your blog. It feels so good to get rid of stuff, and am trying to focus on the pleasure of finding space rather than the pain of giving something up. That seems obvious, but it works… Anyway.. thank you. 🙂

  3. KEEP IT and use it daily, especially if it makes you happy. AND, use the dishwasher. I even put my grandmother/mother and mother-in-law’s Wedgewood china in the dishwasher…it’s lasted this long and my kids won’t likely want it. So why not enjoy?

    • I didn’t realize I could use the dishwasher on pre-dishwasher china without ruining it. This opens up new possibilities — thanks! (maybe I won’t put the radioactive red in the microwave though)

  4. love your Fiesta dishes and especially the quotes today. Made me think more about items I cannot part with, yet they are stored in my basement. I agree with Kitchen-Counter-Culture’s comments, you are inspiring me too! Maybe if you have too many dishes, (can that be possible?), you could use some of them for gifts, made cookies or some such edible item, put them on a plate and gift it to someone explaining the treasure of the dish you are giving to them.

  5. Pingback: I Heard it Thru the Grapevine #001 – Simple Italian Life

  6. Another great post, as usual! I always learn something from you! I also thought you’d like to know that I linked to this post today. I just know my readers will love this, and your blog! Thanks!

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