my perfectly imperfect assemblages . . .

one side of our mantel

I’m a collector of many little imperfect objects that bring happiness. Some of them are found objects (like this carved wood piece from the beach in Nicaragua, the snake-skin from my backyard, & the piece of vertebrate from an unknown source) while others I discover in thrift stores, on etsy or at the market. Then there are those extra special pieces that were gifted to me.

I have one rule when hunting for my wares to assemble, they must scream at me, “TAKE ME HOME!” (those are my shouty caps) That is when I know the object is a definite yes & it’s coming home with me. Rocks & shells have always called out to me as I walk along the beach & in thrift stores I use similar stalking techniques; I go into a zone & I focus on the objects in front of me as I scan shelf after shelf looking for that color, texture, or shape to pop up & shout at me.

Once home I either place it with an already existing grouping or I start another one. At times, I think the faeries & elf folk move some objects around in the night to help me along (or maybe it’s just Finnegan). Either way they eventually end up grouped in an inspiring assemblage that feels personal, inspiring, & alive.

Full Mantel with Kelly Allison Painting above.

Color, texture, & shape are all very important in creating an arrangement, but for me there is nothing serious going on here. It’s just for play & fun. I’m learning what works, what doesn’t by throwing it together.  I guess that is true for any of my art forms.

In fact most of my assemblages of haberdashery are put together by accident while others are worked & reworked until I feel satisfied. I try to change them up often by putting objects away into boxes & pulling out older objects I haven’t tangled with in a while.

I think what is most fun for me about this form of creativity is that these groupings are so impermanent & can be shifted, disassembled, mixed up & changed around at anytime. Not all art modalities are that flexible.

bottles on our pie cabinet

I love living in a house filled with objects that have a history & a story; this brings richness & depth to our entire home. I feel alive stepping into a house that is filled with original art, antiques, objects found on travels all simmering together creating an eclectic concoction of rich, full-bodied luscious-ness.

impromptu assembly – teapot from my collection of teapots, painted frog and dish from BHLDN

This dictionary below is from 1940 & came into my possession while walking down a New York City street with my sister on trash day. We walked by a pile of trash bags with this giant old dictionary just sitting there on top. I stopped and looked at my sister quizzically asking, "is that trash?" She said it must be, so I skulked back and picked up the ginormous book and kept walking. It's beautiful with old maps & pictures. Finn likes to open it up to see where he is going - or so he tells me.

simple pumpkin on an old dictionary

a collection of old frames for a Finnegan arrangement

What do a strand of chili peppers to ward off bad spirits, a 
vintage camera, a string of marigolds, 
an Iraqi Army compass, a mirrored tray, 
three decorative china desert plates, umbrellas, 
an owl & a straw hat have in common? 
They are all on display in my entryway.

our front entryway

These quail below were in my childhood house on an end table. 
They were given to us by my sister as a wedding gift so now they 
are perched over a collection of river & ocean rocks in front of a charcoal drawing I drew a few years back.

dining table assemblage

rock, brick & moss

We carry this assemblage theme into our backyard but in a much more permanent way. Someday I hope to live in an entire house that is built with salvaged wood, doors, hardware & objects with deep, old stories to be shared. We collected a lot of old bricks just lying around the city & bought another bunch at a salvage yard. This Thurber is one on the oldest bricks in Texas. I love how it’s squeezed between the moss bed & a river rock. Some of this magic just happens over time, like the patina on an old rusted sign. It’s like setting the scene & letting nature do the rest.

Outdoor Shower Floor

We built an outdoor shower by placing the river rocks in a swirl. Finnegan’s plant (a plant that showed up in a pot in our sun room on the day he was born. We brought it with us to Houston and threw it under the house)  is encroaching over the floor.

rocks placed perfectly imperfect

our front porch with a painting I painted

I make no claim of being a stylist or a designer, but this brings me happiness & joy in the creating & decorating of my home. I love creating little vignettes of perfect imperfection.

Sibella Court & Sara Cooney are my biggest inspirations in this style of fashioning a home. I will share more about Sara soon.

I’m interested to know if anyone else does this in their house. I’d love to see some photos of your creations.

Big Love,


Etcetera, etc. inspired styling . . .

how about those lemons

I had one of those moments last week that shook me to my bones in realization that I was pretty much standing still in relation to what I could be being. I don’t mean accomplishing, or achieving, but more just being the fullest expression of me. I think it was one of those moments where my outer limits of possibility suddenly expanded 100 yards further.

This shift happened while reading bits of Sibella Court’s book Etcetera Etc. creating beautiful interiors with the things you love.

I realized that here is a woman who seems to have the privilege of choosing precisely what it is she wants to do with her time. From where I’m sitting (may not be reality), it looks like she chooses to travel to exotic places, collects objects of beauty (which could be rope, beads, rocks, colors, & textiles (like her mother did)). Then she creates these incredible pallets, names them & puts them into books which expands & blesses the entire design & stylist world with her gift. But the gift is not only in her talent for seeing, finding, & capturing her vision but in the fact that she puts it all in these delicious books for all to savor. What a gift!!!

In this light of her vision, I suddenly realize that ANYTHING is possible for me. Anything! So what is my anything? Is it the creativity I’ve been exploring? Is it sharing stories? Is it film, photography, screenplays? Is it books involving travel? Who knows? Perhaps it is something that will bring me so much joy I don’t even have the space to imagine it at this time. Regardless, I love taking off the lid of everything I thought was possible and truly experiencing possibility. This is exciting.

I’m in a position in my life to do whatever I want to do, really! I have a supportive husband who would be thrilled to support me in anything I desired to explore. What would you do, in my shoes? Where would you travel & what would you create for the pure joy of creating? What would you share with the world for the pure joy of sharing?

In that light, I made these on Friday night while watching Rum Diaries with Larry. These were actually inspired by Sibella Court. If you have ever perused this book you will see some resemblance, but beyond the brown paper bags I’m not sure if there is much more connection. Really, I’m just trying to learn more about color & how to make my creations feel great with color. Thanks to Sibella for inspiring us so.

the library