Dice #0136

The collector: Mia Monterisi, MA Graphic Design student, London.

The collection: Dice

The story behind the collection...

Collecting dice is something that I am really passionate about. My obsession started approximately 7 years ago and since then it hasn't stopped. In my collection you can find more than 200 dice of all sizes and materials - including wooden, plastic, paper even one made of the same stone that was used to build the White House in Washington DC.

The transparent ones are really interesting as you can see light coming through them and they produce really interesting effects when arranged in different ways.

When I moved from my hometown to the capital of Croatia, for my BA studies, I took my dice collection with me and displayed it on the top of a bookshelf. It was an ideal place because everyone could see them... although dusting the shelf was a time consuming process. I love them so much, every one of them is very special to me and so I didn’t really mind cleaning the shelf - even with more than 200 dice!

The collection has now moved with me to London, living in a big glass jar and so is displayed in one single place. I like to look at them and gain great hapiness from their 'explosion of colours'!

As I like to travel there are dice from all around the world in my collection. It's the fact that they are so colourful and that every one of them tells its own story (to me) that's what I like about them so much. I like their variety and their patterns too.

Other people, it seems, are most fascinated with the smallest ones because they cannot believe something so tiny can exist. The typical thing that most of them say is "Loooook at the tinnyyyyy oneeeessss! Oh my God they are soooo cute!"

My most recent design project is called 'Associations' and it utilizes my collection. I singled out 24 dice and showed them to a group of selected people. The aim was to find out how dice can induce different associations in people. In order to do that, 23 people were asked to write down the first association they have when they see a dice. The group chosen was very varied as they live in different countries (and even different continents)... they are from USA, India, Portugal, Brasil, Netherlands, Moldova, China, South Korea and Croatia and they have different careers (e.g. a lawyer, ceramic artist, graphic designer, land surveyer, civil engeneer, photographer, masseuse etc). They are all different ages too. As a result the findings are rather interesting because they revealed a lot about each individual's personality and the way that they think. The project has the potential to go much further still, revealing much more, if I were to collaborate with a psychologist. The people really had lots of fun being a part of this project and I gained much insight from it.

Also recently, I booked a photographic studio at my university to see if my collection has 'something extra' that I hadn't noticed about it before. Using photography I started to play more with lighting effects and different compositions. The transparent ones were a huge surprise for me because of the amazing effects they produced when placing one dice on top of another, mixing them and colliding their lighting effects together in order to create new colours.

These dice have brought me a lot of joy and so I plan to keep collecting them until they reach the ceiling!


All images © Mia Monterisi



Stove Burners #0135

The collector: Raymon Elozua, visual artist, upstate New York (USA)

The collection: Stove Burners

The story behind the collection...

I collect stove burners, mainly cast iron. A stove burner is the physical means by which gas is dispersed in a pattern to heat a cooking pot. All stove burners have a valve with a knob to control the amount of gas, thus flame pattern and heat.

The collection started in a very accidental way with one sterling example and now comprises of over 200 pieces.

Counter Top burner #065

I grew up in South Chicago, an industrial center of heavy industry; US Steel, Wisconsin Steel, Ford Motor Company, International Harvester, Lever Brothers and many others. Our neighborhood was always covered with a fine film of soot. My father worked at US Steel and I worked at Inland Steel for one summer. Our neighborhood was also the locus for the car culture. Every one had a hot rod, muscle car or motorcycle in their back yard garages. The artistry of mechanical parts was always revealed in the disassembly of motors; camshafts, pistons and crankshafts, all had the beauty of a long lost sculpture.

Broiler burner #001

In 1968, for a period of time I collected scrap metal to get by. Ripping out old laundry stoves from a building that was part of the ghetto, I stumbled on a very unusual stoveburner (above), almost African in appearance. Since I had artistic aspirations, I thought I might be able to use it in a sculpture. Moving to New York in 1969, I took that burner with me. I ended up living on the Bowery. At that time New York was run down with many apartments being abandoned, as well as others being renovated. The streets were littered with old appliances. My neighborhood was also a restaurant supply district so large scale appliances, French fryers, candy stoves and hot water heaters were always being discarded.

Commercial burner #109

I had a small group of mechanical parts, a Ford bell housing, a Plymouth slant six intake manifold, a BSA piston and connecting rod as well as my first stove burner. By default NYC is not a car culture unless you lived in Queens. Walking and pedaling the streets I would look at the old gas appliances and examine the burners to see if they were an interesting shape. I started picking them up first from residential stoves and then from commercial appliances.

Overhead burners #014 & #056, Commercial burners #059 & #014, Space Heater burners #094 & #005a

At first I justified collecting the shapes as materials to use in constructing sculptures. But slowly I came to appreciate their hidden beauty. Someone had designed, and then sculpted this simple functional shape, which is hidden from the view of the user. Since at first most burners were cast iron, I became aware of the lost art of pattern making, the carving in wood of a part to be used in casting, a process now done in 3-D computer printing. The stove burners took on even more significance. Later I collected newer burners made of aluminum to show a continuum of design and fabrication.

Counter Top burner #024

Labor and craftsmanship is generally devalued in America. Our heroes are the financiers who manipulate paper instruments, not the individual who can carve or machine a part to specified tolerances and dimensions - to then work in conjunction with other parts that will become a useful machine. In my house I have displayed 20 typical burners on stands. I am still amazed when so many visitors cannot recognize what they are.

Counter Top Gas burners #020, #007, #053, #023, #031a & #071

As the collection grew, I categorized it into the different types of burners for the various types of gas appliances I was scavenging. The only regret I have is that I did not document the manufacturer of each appliance.

Broiler burner #014

I have a number of other collections I have built too; music CD’s, labor and fine art photo books, electric guitars and motorcycles. Some are small, some I have sold or discontinued collecting. My favorite though are the ones like stove burners, rusty buckets, washing machine agitators, drive in speakers and plastic beach shovels that do not involve money and have no monetary value to the world at large. As a collector I have no control in acquiring any of these objects, random chance is the arbiter. I cannot buy these items nor despite the temptation have I used Ebay to build up the collection. Every object was obtained for “free.” In fact the only way to acquire these items is to search the detritus of our society to assemble the collection thereby creating both personal meaning as well as reflecting on the temporality of everything.

Today I use photography to “acquire” and “collect” images of abandoned hotels, bungalows and chicken coops located in the Catskills “Borscht Belt,” in upstate New York and periodically I come across new and unusual stove burners to add to the collection.

Hot Water burner #008                    

View Raymon's website here

You can buy Raymon's Stove Burner book here

Images © Raymon Elozua


Spice Girls Memorabilia #0134 

The collector: Liz West, Artist, Manchester (UK)

The collection: Spice Girls Memorabilia

The story behind the collection...

I collect Spice Girls memorabilia and costume. Within the collection is everything from mass produced memorabilia such as t-shirts, toys and stationary to press and promotional items and items belonging to the five girls. The premise of the collection is that any item has to be an officially endorsed product. I hold the Guinness World Record for the Largest Spice Girls collection in the world standing at 2066 items (April 2011), since then in has increased somewhat. On top of these 2066+ Spice Girls items I have individual Geri Halliwell, Victoria Beckham, Melanie C, Mel B and Emma Bunton collections, which could not be counted as part of my record attempt, meaning all together I have over 5000 Spice Girls 'related' items.  

I began collecting Spice Girls memorabilia in 1996 when the girls first launched themselves onto the pop scene. I was hooked as soon as they released their first single 'Wannabe' as I was an impressionable 11 years old. At that age all my friends and family would buy me Spice Girls items for Birthday and Christmas presents. I did not buy my first museum worthy piece until I was at Art School in Glasgow, armed with my student loan I purchased a top worn my Melanie C when I was 19 years old via eBay.

Initially I would just buy the albums, magazines and sticker books but after a year of chart successes I started buying the singles and all the official merchandise. I would keep everything pristine in the packaging unlike all of my school friends who would use the items. I must have had a collector’s instinct from an early age. I would arrange and showcase proudly the boxed memorabilia on my bedroom shelves as a teenager. Becoming a fan and collector were both conscience decisions.

When I was a Student at the Glasgow School of Art the collection really turned into an obsession. I started visiting the University library on my way back from my studio and would constantly bid on Spice Girls items on eBay, without realising the amount I was spending. All the items would be delivered to my parents home in Yorkshire. It was only when I came back from holidays that I would see a massive pile of packages that I had ordered online ready to be opened. I was so unhappy in my Halls of Residence that buying items for my collection was basically retail therapy. I eventually calmed this obsession with the shifting of priorities (mainly financial) when I left Art School and began my practice as an Artist.

I became a much more serious collector during my university years, going from acquiring mass-produced paraphernalia to one-off memorabilia. I have become the 'go-to' person for valuations, as I am the Guinness World Record holder for the Largest Collection in the World. Now, I take my collection seriously as it has turned into a profession, as I often curate exhibitions and hire my items to museums around the country.

Even though the Spice Girls were a manufactured pop group, their attitude and style separated them from other pop groups around at the same time that all dressed alike and had a nominated lead-singer. The Spice Girls split singing duties, had very individual personalities and seemed credible role models for young girls and women. They inspired a generation. There had been nothing quite like them before and there has been nothing like them since. Poor attempts have been made to conjure up the same energy in girl bands such as Girls Aloud, The Saturdays or Little Mix and it has always fallen flat in my mind. For me the original is always the best.

My favourite items are the outfits, shoes and items of clothing that belonged to members of the Spice Girls at the height of their fame (1997-98). With over 85 individual outfits I would not be able to choose a favourite! They are all special in their own ways.

I have outfits in my collection that were worn at significant events or in iconic images of the group, e.g. I have the suit Mel B worn when meeting Nelson Mandela and Prince Charles in South Africa, outfits worn by members of the group at the 1997 and 1998 Brit Awards and custom-made one-off costumes from designers such as Roberto Cavailli, Paul Smith, Prada and Jean Paul Gaultier. One of the most significant pieces for me personally is a dress of Geri's I have that she wore in one of her last performances before she quit the Spice Girls. I saw her at that very concert and watched her admirably. Never in a million years would I have dreamt that I would one day own that dress.

I listened to the albums as a child, I took snaps with their endorsed Polaroid Camera, I pulled the Asda branded Christmas crackers, I drank out of Pepsi can with their face on, I munched on Walkers Crisps and Cadburys chocolate bars that had the group emblazed over the packaging, I sprayed myself with their special edition Impulse body spray... But I always bought a second copy to keep pristine in the packaging. As I got older I wouldn't use the items at all, instead opting to always keep them in their original wrapping.

As an 11/12 year old I was predominantly a fan, singing their songs into my Spice Girls endorsed microphone. As I approached my mid-teens I had stopped listening to their music but continued to acquire paraphernalia. When I went to Art School I became very aware that I was the main collector of Spice Girls and at the same time started storing my collection as if in an archive. Now, since dealing with museums for the last several years, I would call myself an archivist of pop culture, my collection is representative of an era; the 1990's.

I sent Leeds City Museum an exhibition proposal a couple of years before it opened to the public. After the Head of Exhibitions realized the scale and importance of my collection we got our heads together and approached the board who agreed it should go ahead. Two years of planning later the exhibition opened and was a roaring success, attracting 50,000 visitors. Whilst the collection was on show in Leeds I was also able to count my collection 'officially' and apply for a Guinness World Record for the Largest Collection of Spice Girls Memorabilia in the World which I successfully got.

There is also a very tight community of Spice Girls fans, some of whom are also collectors. It is great to be able to share experiences and give each other tip-offs about where to find the best spicy deals. Often other fans come to me for advice about value or asking to buy items from me. There is a fan forum that is popular called DenDen that I often post news about my collection on, it is a great resource.

When I traveled to New York several years ago (as my artwork was in an exhibition in Brooklyn), I met up with another fan who I had been emailing for months but had never had the chance to meet. It was like seeing a mirror reflection of myself - the same age, similar style, same ambitions, same goals for our collections, etc. I could have stayed up all night chatting if I hadn't of been so jet-lagged!

I think that the quantity and quality of items in the collection say I am a dedicated and passionate fan and collector. Initially my family thought I was wasting my money, but have realised that it is now a serious endeavor and since my collection tours to museums and I am earning money from it, they seem to be very proud that I have had sense to do something with it instead of letting it rot in a box in the attic. My friends think its quirky and a huge element of my person.

I have met three of the five Spice Girls and told them about my collection; Mel B (aka Scary Spice), Emma (aka Baby Spice) and Melanie C (aka Sporty Spice). I sent them all copies of the exhibition catalogue detailing the most important items in my collection. Melanie C has even sent me iconic outfits she wore whilst in the group, to add to my collection and Mel B supported the Leeds exhibition as she was born there.

Making a Spice Girls collection has informed my ideas of how to make a collection successfully, which I then utilize in my work as an artist. Many of my ideas and interests include objects en-mass in one form or another – mostly mass-produced colourful detritus. Spice girls ephemera is also brightly coloured, mass-marketed, mass-produced throw-away commodities. There is a clear link between the two I think.

My own body of artwork explores my fascination with exuberant colour, sculptural form and intense light. At the end of September I presented this new work in a solo show 'On Brown & Violet Grounds' in Manchester, where alongside a series of light-based installations I also exhibited works on paper for the first time. Using un-conventional industrial and man-made materials, such as: electrical tape, aluminium and mirror, these pieces echo many of the materials utilized within my installation work. My two-dimensional explorations are driving new ideas within the practice and signal an important development from the successful colour-drenched Chamber series. On Brown & Violet Grounds was produced as a result of my recent research and development award from Arts Council England. In the coming months I will return to my studio based practice to develop new ideas as well as taking part in a handful of group exhibitions.


You can view Liz's Spice Girls website here and personal artwork here



Information Tea Towels #0133

The collector: Amanda Goode, Senior Lecturer and Course Leader for Textile Design for Fashion and Interiors at Bath School of Art and Design (UK)

The collection: Information Tea Towels

The story behind the collection...

My collection focusses on Information Tea Towels. I select only tea towels which inform or educate and use a limited amount of words.

I have over a hundred towels including; How to Arrange Church Flowers, Royal Regalia, The Little Trains of Wales, Cakes to Eat According to Your Birth Sign, How to Carve a Turkey etc...

When I was five I decided to be either a designer or a tight rope walker. I don't have a good sense of balance, can't stand heights and wouldn't fit into a sparkly costume, so I became a designer by default really.

I particularly like information Tea Towels as they remind me of twitter... I select only tea towels which inform or educate and use a limited amount of words. A kind of fabric twitter.

Like my work, I feel the next piece will be the best or my favourite. I do like the towels for different reasons though. The most naive drawing, the most mannered or knowing, the best use of three colour printing etc.. 

I don't think there are particularly any ‘significant’ ones in my collection, and that rather pleases me. I also only collect British Tea Towels. Although, through my collecting, I have noticed Australia and Cyprus produce a good line of towel but I am not tempted.

I use quite a few as Tea Towels, but I am planning to let the towel take on another role and inform my life. I'd like to undertake a number of the recorded activities for example, walk the Pennine Way, carve a turkey, visit the Treasury, throw a party and serve food recorded only on the tea towels, visit the Tizer factory, arrange church flowers. I may record the process through little YouTube videos. However I may only be able to watch the Red Arrows display team and possibly I won't make it onto The Archers family tree.

When it comes to collecting, I'm a bit of a random. Suddenly things appeal to me and maybe, because I work in a world of aesthetically pleasing outcomes, I tend to collect things which are unrestrained by this creative goal. It's an antidote.

I use them in many, many ways at Bath School of Art and Design. I have an exhibition and a book planned, both of which, I hope, will stimulate creative activity and curiosity, with amusement and possibly bemusement to boot. This year I also plan to ask students to select two unconnected towels, combine the subject matter, and research over and above the topics. Then to produce a fresh, new outcome. It may not even be a towel outcome!

I think Tea towels represent an ideal of past domesticity. A world where everything appears ordered, simple and very self contained.

I haven't actually designed any Tea Towels myself, but if I did I'm sure they would have very limited appeal.

Drying to Know  - a collection of information tea towels opens on Friday November 8th at 6pm at The Gallery, Bath School of Art and Design, Sion Hill Bath BA1 5SF and will run for two weeks.

All images © 2013 Amanda Goode and used with her kind permission.


Fleur dolls #0132

The Collector: Agnes, editor, Manchester (UK)

The Collection: Fleur dolls

The story behind the collection...

I’m Agnes, and I’m passionate about dolls in general, and Fleurs in particular!'s possibly the most complete Fleur collection in the world.

Similar to many other doll and toy collectors, my story begins in childhood. When I was a child, I lived in one of the formerly communist Eastern Bloc countries. It was a very interesting time, and completely different from anywhere in the West. Very few children had the toys they truly wanted. The communist factories made toys of course, but they were not at all like Barbie or Lego or any other western toys! I remember mostly large plastic dolls with poor hair, lots of teddy bears, some doll furniture, lots of wooden blocks and of course cars, trucks, and awful plastic soldiers.

But the toys we kids REALLY wanted were sold at special stores beyond ordinary people’s reach and far beyond their salaries. These stores were especially set up by the government and intended to encourage people to part with foreign currencies. At that time, around the early to mid-1980s, foreign money had enormous value in Eastern Europe. Another reason for these stores was to encourage the tourists to spend their money there, and to give an impression that one could buy anything there, just like elsewhere in the West. Consequently, while ordinary people queued for hours for luxuries like coffee, pantyhose, good quality cosmetics, sweets, jeans, at those stores they could just buy it out right, but at an enormously prohibitive cost. An average monthly salary in those days was around $20 USD – and a Barbie in that store cost $5. Who would spend a quarter of their monthly salary on ONE doll? Barbies weren’t available anywhere else.

To a child, going to this store was like going to another planet – I often went with other neighbourhood kids just to LOOK at the toys. They were kept out of our reach, behind the counter, and the sales ladies didn’t let any children touch them, unless they had come to actually make a purchase. I hope I can adequately explain this feeling – standing in front of a small selection of dolls, with the burning “I want, I want, I want” ache inside, and at the same time knowing that it’s impossible, that my parents could never afford to buy me a real Barbie or Fleur. This feeling, it’s something that cannot be forgotten, when I think about those distant days I feel it so clearly, it was such a difficult thing to cope with, for a child!

My family wasn’t rich by any means, but I was an only child and so ended up with two Fleur dolls and one Barbie, more than any other child in my neighbourhood! I was nothing but lucky – I got one doll because a rich aunt sent over some money, another one my parents saved and saved to buy me, and for the last one I blackmailed my Gradma over the contents of my piggy bank when I was about 11 years old. I still have these dolls today and they certainly look like they were well loved. They have hair like a badly shorn frizzy mop, various bodily injuries including knees that no longer bend, holes in ears where there were none before (yes, I tried to give them earrings…), and original outfits so faded and bobbled they could be mistaken for old dishcloths.

My very first Fleur doll was called Amazone. She wore a gorgeous red riding coat, white scarf, white trousers and black riding boots - a glam equestrienne through and through. I can still remember the day my Grandma and I bought her like it was yesterday. I was 9 years old and felt like the luckiest girl alive. After that came Fashion Play Barbie and then my second Fleur, Alpine, a skier.

When I grew up my dolls stayed with my Grandma for many years, tucked away, safe and sound waiting for me to re-discover them 10 years later. It was while I was looking on ebay for a Barbie I remembered from my childhood when I thought, “I wonder if it’s still possible to find a Fleur?” Lo and behold, with a little luck, there she was waiting to be bought! So, that’s exactly what I did. I bought a brand new Amazone, in box, exactly like the one I had as a child. Then I found another Fleur. And another.  And shortly after that I had a crazy thought: what if I could find everything ever made for Fleur; every doll, every outfit, every piece of furniture? Everything I couldn’t have as a child? My collection was born.

You know those promotional pictures printed on the back of almost every doll box ever made? Well, Fleur boxes had them of course, showing other things available to buy… except not to me. As a child, I spent many hours staring at those pictures with an ache in my heart, later pestering my Grandma to make duplicates of the outfits (my Grandma was a supremely talented seamstress with a giant Singer sewing machine that, through my childhood eyes, could perform miracles). That feeling of wanting something so much and knowing I’ll never have it. I remember it so clearly. And then, many years later, I realised, actually, I could have them ALL now… WOW, it was a superb feeling!

So I started all the way back in 2001 and today I have, in my estimate, around 97% of everything ever produced for Fleur, and I know so much about her. Some people very kindly call me a Fleur expert.  

As a child, I thought Fleur was just… amazing. She was so small, and so cute, and she bent her knees! That was just totally… unbelievably delightful. She was so different from the ubiquitous baby and plastic little girl dolls available in those days. She was like a real mini-person.

As an adult, and knowing so much more about her, I really appreciate her place in the history of toys. Fleur is Sindy’s Dutch cousin, and she was enormously successful in Holland and other parts of Europe in the 1980s. She even had her own clone, and we all know you aren’t a respectable doll until you have a clone!

In the last few years the growth of my Fleur collection has really slowed down, because all I have left to buy now are the very rare items (the elusive 3%). But if I really HAD to chose one I’d have to say my favourite is the Jazz Ballet doll. Her promo photo was on the back of my very first Fleur’s box, and I was obsessed with her as a child – it’s a wonder I didn’t burn holes in the picture with my eyes! The Jazz Ballet doll is a dancer, dressed in pink from head to toe, with white pointe shoes and white terrycloth towel. Most little girls go through the “ballerina” phase at some point and mine was pretty serious! She was one of the first dolls I bought for my collection when I first started; probably back in 2002 or 2003? I took her out of the box and put her on display. Then, a few years later, I saw another one for sale, mint in box and I bought her as well. A few years later, I bought another one, just because she a different box (for the sake of collection completion, of course…).

Yes, you know you’re in trouble when you buy multiples of the same thing, for no reason other than, well, just because!

The dolls have to be in good condition; no chewed hands or feet, no holes, no stains. Most of them have very bad hair due to their age, or chipped face paint. I don’t mind these things because I’m skilled in doll restoration, so I can give them new hair and touch up their faces.

Oh yes and packaging is a veritable goldmine of information to a collector! I have quite a few empty Fleur boxes in storage (the dolls are on display) and I would never throw them away. Sometimes when I buy a new item I’m very excited to discover never before seen promo photos!

I also collect Fleur furniture, accessories, boxed outfits, and any print adds I find. I also collect variations of things. For example, several of Fleur’s outfits were made using different fabrics (same outfit, different fabric) so I make sure I add these to my collection as well.

I used to have a separate doll room, but when I recently moved and downsized I had to put all the dolls in my bedroom. It’s a bit cramped in there, but I’m managing for now! All the dolls and items are arranged on four big, tall bookcases.

My non-collector friends roll their eyes in the most affectionate and understanding way! They know not to talk to me about dolls, because I can literally go on for hours. They also know not to buy me dolls for presents; it’s usually a miss! Plus, there is hardly anything left now that I need to get for my Fleur collection, so they would have to be really lucky, or have a lot of money to spare, to actually add something to it! Several of my friends have found my doll restoration skills helpful as I’ve restored a few vintage dolls for their mums and grandmas!

My collector friends however think my collection is amazing and we love talking about dolls.

Having a doll collection is a good dating test as well (ha ha). I don’t tell dates about my hobby right away, only in time, and then when they see it I can tell a lot from their reaction. If they make fun of me or put me down because of it, then I probably don’t want to date them!

I think my choice of collection reveals a strong connection to my childhood and the time in which I grew up. I feel that many adults have forgotten that they were kids once, but to keep a bit of a kid in you really helps to find a certain joy in life, even if it’s silly like dolls.

Luckily there are just a few items missing from my Fleur collection! For example, in the late 1980s there was a series of outfits called Horoscope, 12 of them of course, one for every sign of the Zodiac. They are very hard to find today, because they were made in small quantities, due to Fleur’s production slowing down at that time (it ended in 1988). I only have four of these outfits, so eight more to go! There was also a Fleur Babysitter doll which was one of the first Fleurs ever sold, I have her dress but I have never seen her for sale even once, and I’d love to have her boxed (that’s really unlikely).


Visit Agnes's website here

all images © Agnes and used with her kind permission


Images of Collections #0131

The Collector: Jim Golden, Portland, Oregan, USA

The Collection: Images of collections

The story behind the collection...

I’m a professional photographer based in Portland, Oregon. Photography is my business, but also my art and lifelong passion. I started taking photos when I was a kid, mostly of my friends skateboarding and graveyards, old weathered barns, etc, typical high school photo subject matter. My dad was a fairly serious amateur photographer and would shoot slide film and I remember a fair amount of slideshows when I was a kid, so I guess that rubbed off.

These days I work out of my studio in Portland, commercially, I shoot a lot of footwear and sportswear for clients like Nike, adidas, Keen, Giro,  some agency work and some editorial, some portraits. One the personal side I like to make portraits of people, still life (ie the collections), I also love to photograph cars on the street and vernacular architecture.

I suppose I'm more of an a archivist than a collector of 'things'. I collect images of collections! I used to collect a bit more, but I don’t have a lot of room these days, so I try to keep it paired down. Lately I’ve noticed my drawer of defunct technology objects getting more full, I’ve started calling it my Technology Museum, this is my latest collection of interest.

A lot of these items are special to me or the person that collected them, so I feel they deserve an elevated treatment. It also starts to make the objects interesting on a more basic level - patterns, color, shape. Most of the images take on a life of their own when printed larger, say 1-2 meters, then you can really dig in and take a look or from a distance they form interesting patterns. I've been photographing objects from above commercially for years, so this is a logical extension of that work into my personal photography.

I suppose they all 'tools of the trade' so to speak - whether work or leisure. The scissor collection is amazing to handle, you can see all the wear and tear on the items. Same with the hunting/rifle collection.

One of my favorite things to do, photographically, is to elevate an ordinary (singular) object into an extraordinary object by making an exquisite image of it. At the same time, making the images solves my curiosity to get really close and handle interesting objects, to get more of a sense of the character of the object as well and portray that to the viewer.

The chainsaw is all oily and dirty in the larger print and you see that patina, you can almost smell the wood being cut and the hot oil from the chainsaw. Same thing with firearms on black, they look beautiful, and menacing, but have interesting shapes and patterns on them too.

I try to photograph the objects as straightforward as possible as to not distract from their character. I use one light source and keep any post to a minimum. For the items on black, I use a high quality velvet as a background, it eats up any stray light. Again, I use one light and use fill cards as needed to subtly sculpt the light, then paint the multiple exposures together in photoshop. I try to keep the post to a minimum, I really want a strong image out of the camera.

The collection images are photographed with camera overhead, with one strobe, bare bulb, from overhead in line with the camera or slightly offset if I want the shadows to fall to one side or the other. In some instances, I’ll bounce a strobe into the white wall or ceiling in my studio to great a more diffused shadow, so the shadow will not distract from the objects (ie the scissors and the locks).

For some of the collection images, I work with a collaborator, my friend and stylist Kristin Lane. Kristin and I did the cameras, camping, rifles, musical instruments, beachcomber and houseware images together, among others. She has a great eye for selecting objects and the patience of a saint to arrange them all.

I never really thought of them representing a slower paced life, but there is a good bit of nostalgia in most of the images – I think this is one of the reasons to why people relate to them as well. I do enjoy the shoots as the pace is very slow building the compositions, much unlike my commercial work which can be a bit more harried. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty either. I’m a terrible gardener and a mediocre carpenter but I will always give it a shot. I worked on cars a lot as a kid, I can do that fairly well. If I get in over my head, I call in the pros, I learned that a long time ago from the photo business.

When I was in New York, I wasn’t shooting commercially yet and my personal photography was much less focused. I was very busy working as a retoucher, so I needed some space from photography. I mostly photographed architecture and landscapes when I traveled and a lot of NYC from the street, more like a diary than anything else. All film or Polaroid, I was heavy into the SX-70. Portland and the Northwest have influenced my photography, but not really from a lifestyle aspect, more from it being such a different landscape, weather, etc.

I have a bunch of different projects ongoing at the moment too. I’m continuing my series of collections, I have tin toys, vintage bike gear and a few others on deck. I’d also like to get the collection images to move somehow, whether stop-motion or a cinemegraph. I’ve been working on a project about the coast of Oregon and Washington for the past 3 years, that’s forming into an interesting body of work, some of it is on my site. I started a project last summer about churches in unconventional spaces, i.e in a house, a strip mall, warehouse, etc, there are a lot in Portland. I’ll be picking up that project again now that the weather is getting a little nicer. I’m always shooting cars I see on the street, that is a series that I love and get excited about when I run in to a cool car.

You can visit Jim's website here and tumbler here

 You can visit Kristin's website here

all images © Jim Golden and used with his kind permission