contemporary collage paintings
the process
Leslie Avon Miller

My life flows when I'm in my art.


Jean De Muzio

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Junk Drawer






I can see it now. The Junk Drawer; to the left of the kitchen sink. It was a medium sized drawer – it held bits of stuff in a jumble – keys to things long lost housed in Early Tupperware; little jars of bits, screw drivers, broken little chains – the kind that held a key ring. A small hammer, a bit of coiled wire. Some string and a rubber band. Dice. A red pencil stub. Hooks, clips, a metal measuring tape and metal film canisters with screw tops filled with things that rattled. Thumb tacks. This was the drawer of the lesser things, the useful things, and the things to which she would let you have access. Everything belonged there, and we all used the junk drawer. It was where you found what you needed.

The drawer was heavy so you had to pull hard and lift up a bit to get it open, and a mighty shove with the 9 year old body was required to close it. The white drawer itself made a noise as it opened and then the stuff in it made a collective rattle so one always knew when the junk drawer was opened or closed. It was her drawer really. She was the Constant Collector, The Keeper, and she knew the value of all things. She quietly squirreled things away, not only in this drawer but in all the little “hidy holes” around our old quirky house.

My Mom must have cleaned out that drawer sometime after her divorce. She probably sorted all that stuff gathered over the years and kept at least some of it; certainly the tools and a key ring or two. The remnants are probably housed somewhere here at my house now. Later, when she had moved away and the kitchen was gutted for a remodel, the drawer itself must have been discarded; its usefulness as a container of one of her collections no longer valued.

It’s funny – the memories that choose to be kept.

28 comments:

  1. j'aime les vieilleries.. surtout celles qui semblent inutiles pour la majorité des gens. merci de partager les vôtres.

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  2. I wonder what my children will keep when I am no longer around.

    I am a big collector of things, but now as I am getting older, I am trying to start, with difficulty, to decided which is of personal value and that which should be passed on to someone who collects and would appreciate.

    Thank you for sharing
    Egmont

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  3. Your blog brings back so many memories, not of a particular drawer, but of little caches of seemingly useless and valueless objects which suddenly became invaluable in an emergency. Thank you for reviving the memories.

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  4. i love this post with memories and cool images ~elk

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  5. I love this treasure drawer, exceptional presentation!

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  6. My whole house (sorry, our house) is perpetually in a state of upheaval; full of useful things but we can never find anything. Raymond (my husband) has just spent a day sorting an old suitcase full of antique cabinet locks and keys, trying to match them up. They were his father's who was a cabinet maker between the two world wars. The roof space is full of my fabrics collected over the years, even snippets from making dresses for my daughter - they still come in useful.

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  7. Yes we have one of those drawers beneath the cuttlery drawer in the kitchen.... and there's a dice in there too. It was the drawer under the cuttlery drawer in my moms home as well. It is so strange what we relegate to the junk drawer.

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  8. if we were to enter anu house onany given day, there would be the junk drawer,

    perpetually over full, unsorted, and easy to locate.

    It's where stuff goes. I loved this drawer in my childhood, there were always treasures.

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  9. love this writing and subject matter and the junk drawer photos. Over the last months I've been cleaning out mom's house, each room gone through, but in the kitchen, haven't touched the junk drawer. I think I'll leave it (this house is now my brothers so doesnt need to be completely cleaned out.)

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  10. A great post that everyone can relate to. Besides the kitchen, my tool area has an odds and bits box and there's another junk box of electronic gadgets, cables, connectors and batteries.

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  11. ..and those are handmade nails!

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  12. Thank you Leslie for the ride down memory lane. My mother had such a drawer near the telephone so besides the little "things" there were scraps of paper with phone numbers!

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  13. Thanks Leslie for such a heart warming post. Wonderful to pay tribute to such treasures :) that only so few really see.
    Jo xx

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  14. I think it is natural-- human-- to have a junk drawer-- those odd little thingies one finds here and there just might be part of something important-- if we could just figure out where they come from--put in with the tape, tacks, little tools and odds and ends-- eventually becoming too full and overwhelming to deal with ie. clean out. what memories for you..

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  15. mmmmm, it seems a universal thing, the junk drawer - I can't remember ever living in a place without one and I have never had anyone ask me 'what is a junk drawer?' :)

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  16. Hi Leslie,

    We all seem to have a passion for keeping things that will rarely have another use! In my childhood it was a 'button tin'; a large, tall tin with a lot more than buttons inside.

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  17. Leslie, you can make even your junk drawer into art.

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  18. Your post reminds me of another job I have to do, clean out that junk drawer while we can still close it!

    Lord knows that's in there!

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  19. Loved your photos of your strange/familiar treasures.
    This is a little like one of the starters for a creative writing workshop I used to run.
    Without telling people what the exercise would be
    I had everyone take three various bits of stuff out of their pocket/pocket books (pre-cell phones thank heavens!)
    then use that for a jumping off point for a poem or short story......pr memory piece.
    Gosh I miss teaching........

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  20. I can't remember when we didn't have a junk drawer in the kitchen, until now. For the first time in all my years, I have no junk drawer. I have a studio instead. All those little things that used to reside in the kitchen now live in the studio to be put to good use in something new I am creating. Thanks for the great post.

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  21. I think everybody growing up had a junk drawer and this post reminded me of mine. Funny how yesterday's junk has now become today's treasure!

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  22. There is nothing better than a junk drawer(for a junk artist)

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  23. In praise of the junk drawer! Your post is a poignant reminder of what we take for granted and the special place of the humble ordinary in our lives. Your post is poetry!

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  24. Wow. I was just thinking of cleaning out the junk drawer. Now I will look at each treasure with new eyes before I pass sentence. Beautiful prose and heart warming sentiment.
    P.S. I cannot tell you how much joy your paintings have brought me. Thank you!

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  25. Recently I inherited a set of drawers that used to belong to my Grandma. I was a little upset that I couldn't remember them because sleep overs at grandmas's were well enjoyed and I knew these drawers had been in the spare room where I slept...I remebered how she made the bed for me, how the hot water bottle was red...but I couldn't remember the drawers. The other day I decided to keep some gift bags and wrapping paper off-cuts in the draw so they'd stay flat...as I opened the draw it hit me! That's what grandma used them for too! I saw it as if she were there and I was so happy to remember the drawers!

    I love your pics and description, little things and fragments of memory are so precious!

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  26. I saw these on my BB and wanted to wait to look on monitor - these are remarkable compositons - in arrangement and exposure - including the light and colour - yep, yep, yep - they deserve that extar "u."

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  27. I love what you have done here, your story of the junk drawer, and your assemblage... beautiful memories of a simple item held by someone loved. Roxanne

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  28. Leslie, such an enjoyable post. Your collages of the items are lovely, even considering the background. Did you box up your mother's junk drawer? I claimed my grandmother's and still thrill with some treasures from it. My drawer I don't call a junk drawer but I certainly have one and more....thanks for your sharing.

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