A Teaspoon of Huguenot History

The object that I’m analyzing is a pair of silver teaspoons made by Tunis D. DuBois, a descendant of the original Huguenot family. He was a silversmith based out of New York City. At first glance, this pair of teaspoons doesn’t seem too significant. The story of their use are displayed by the worn and battered look of the handle and oval bowl of the spoon. These spoons were probably made just for utilitarian purposes, but these little marks tell a deeper story. They reflect a time when our items were still custom-made, before mass production and manufacturing. The maker would leave little hints, traces, messages on their products—a proud symbol to accredit their work.

Physical Description:

The teaspoons are made out of silver and are 5 and a half inches in length. They have a pointed oval bowl and a pointed arch drop. The space between the spoon’s oval and its handle becomes very narrow, before opening back up into a straight oval handle. On the handle on the front part of the spoon is a simple pattern, a few straight line indents made, one on top of the other, that get smaller as they move up the handle towards the narrow stem, with smaller indented lines coming off of the main ones. This pattern is reminiscent of a plant or flower, which relates to DuBois’ signature wheat sheaf. The teaspoons aren’t in perfect shape—but that’s the point. The bowl is worn and dented, and the silver is tarnished. However, these imperfections are what give these teaspoons character. They weren’t “perfectly” made by a machine in a factory. They required time and labor—they were touched, molded, and crafted by human hands, back when we put a little piece of ourselves into our items. These teaspoons serve as an index—they contain an evidentiary quality that marks a trace of the real—the hands of the maker. DuBois left his signature on the back of the handle of the spoon with three rectangles. One with his initials, TDD, and two wheat sheafs in the other two rectangles. The wheat sheaf symbol typically represented harvest, fertility, and a long life. This was a popular motif to be used at the time (Laidlaw, 42). These marks can be seen on other works by DuBois. The teaspoons reflect a time when quality products were created with care and a unique touch.

Provenance:

These teaspoons were donated by Muriel Pulver, a resident of Rhinebeck. She was born in 1897. Her mother was Magdalena Elting—the Elting’s are another prominent New Paltz family. They weren’t one of the original 12 patentees, but their family intertwines with the founders, and “in almost any one of the original families one finds a connection with the Dutch Elting,” (Bevier-Elting Family Association). Magdalena was born in 1872 to Phillip and Harriet Hasbrouck Elting, and was a New York City native, before residing in Ulster County. This family donated a lot of items, so it can be surmised that they were collectors. The year range for these items is estimated between 1796 and 1799. (Historic Huguenot Street Permanent Collection).

Narrative:

The Huguenots were known to be skilled craftsmen. However, when they were residing in France in the late 17th century, the patronage of goldsmiths was forbidden by King Louis XIV (“The Huguenot Silversmiths of London”). Around this time is also when King Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, the document that maintained most of the Huguenots’ rights in France (“Huguenot”). The renewed persecution against the Huguenots led to a mass migration from France to London, where they joined a network of persecuted craftsmen that was already beginning to take shape (“The Huguenot Silversmiths of London”). The first two generations of craftsmen in London represented different styles and appealed to different audiences—the first generation made products for the aristocratic class and began to earn a reputation, whereas the second generation craftsmen appealed to a wider audience, including other craftsmen, and they were able to achieve an even greater reputation (“The Huguenot Silversmiths of London”). The Huguenots took pride in their work, and valued their peers whom they made their products for—“The network which the Huguenot silversmiths maintained amongst their own community and the care with which they nurtured their patrons, created a monopoly which provoked a hostile reaction from native silversmiths,” (“The Huguenot Silversmiths of London”). The native smiths began to take on Huguenots in order to sustain their business. The silversmith in our narrative, Tunis Dubois, carried out a similar style of interacting with his customers. DuBois’ records show that he made silver products for a consistent base of customers, and for fellow silversmiths as well (Laidlaw, 28 & 35).

The Huguenots also found their way into other parts of Europe and America, where they established themselves as craftsmen as well. They were able to freely worship and carry out their skills as artisans. The Huguenot silversmiths that moved to America began to diverge in their style. Their work is “usually very simple and lacks the ornate decoration and details of execution characteristic of French silver during the first part of the 18th Century,” (Ormsbee 2009). This can be seen in DuBois’ teaspoons, which contain just a few ornamental details, but is more functional than decorative.

Tunis DuBois was born in central New Jersey, in Freehold Township, in 1773. His father, Benjamin DuBois, was a reverend of mixed Huguenot and Dutch descent, which can serve as an explanation for DuBois’ affinity to be a silversmith, as this craft was popular among these groups. Especially among the Dutch, solid silver spoons “were considered very precious objects” according to George Way, a well-known collector and author of 16th-17th century Dutch and English furniture, paintings, and decorative objects (“NEWS RELEASE: HHS Holds Closing Reception with George Way”). Way discusses that these spoons were not only highly regarded as works of art in their own right, “but were an indication of great wealth.” It’s part of Dutch custom to give spoons to mark births, deaths, and other momentous occasions (“NEWS RELEASE: HHS Holds Closing Reception with George Way”).

Tunis and brother Jospeh DuBois signature on abck of spoon, with wheat sheaf and bird’s head pseudohallmarks.

What sets DuBois apart from the rest, was his business model—one that could be seen as being ahead of his time. He produced his goods to be sold on a wholesale basis. (Laidlaw, 25) This, of course, was before the mid-19th century industrial boom, when manufacturing goods like this was the new form of production. However, DuBois was still able to maintain his craftsmanship and leave his unique mark on each good, while selling to a larger audience. He followed the footsteps of his brother, Joseph, and moved to New York City to pursue a profession as a silversmith. Soon after, Joseph took him on as a junior partner, and they began to create hollowware and flatware pieces together. Among their more intricate pieces were a neoclassic cruet stand, a sugar bowl, and a teapot.  For most of his career as a silversmith, DuBois’ business was successful. However, the yellow-fever epidemic in 1798 began to take a toll on his business, and he decided to move back to New Jersey, where he acted as both a farmer and a silversmith. This did not deter DuBois to continue his profession. He was still a successful silversmith miles away from New York City—he increased his wholesale sales to his highest levels thus far and continued to attract new customers from the city. DuBois did all this, while still maintaining local business, although these sales made up a smaller portion of his work. Dubois was different than most rural smiths, who tended to only make products for their local customers, whereas he sold his products to shops in New York City. However, where DuBois aligned with his fellow rural smiths was in the manufacture of spoons, which made up almost his entire production. Spoons were almost entirely made by village and small-town silversmiths, as they appealed more to the rural audience than hollowware, which would be commissioned by silversmiths in the city. Dubois stopped making silver around his 40s, and turned more of his attention to farming, until his death in 1843 (Laidlaw 1988).

DuBois was able to carry out his wholesale model without employing a whole team of people—he wasn’t operating in a workshop with a large workforce. DuBois made most of his spoons himself (Laidlaw, 45). This is another testament to DuBois’ craft and skill, and his ability to be ahead of the curve, while still maintaining his personal touch on his items. This kind of handmade craftwork is a lost art. These teaspoons go beyond their function, they tell a story of an earnest silversmith who took on an ambitious and new business style, while still being able to care for his work and his customers.

Tunis DuBois’ signature: TDD and two wheat sheaf pseudohallmarks. These same markings are also found on the teaspoons I analyzed.

References

“Bevier-Elting Family Association.” Historic Huguenot Street, www.huguenotstreet.org/bevier-elting.

Encyclopaedia Britannica, The Editors of. “Huguenot.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 2016.

Historic Huguenot Street Permanent Collection, May 2019.

Laidlaw, Christine Wallace. “Silver by the Dozen: The Wholesale Business of Teunis D.DuBois.” Winterthur Portfolio, vol. 23, no. 1, 1988, pp. 25–50. JSTOR,             http://www.jstor.org/stable/1181161.

“NEWS RELEASE: HHS Hosts Closing Reception with George Way.” Historic Huguenot Street, www.huguenotstreet.org/news-release-hhs-hosts-closing-reception-with-george-way.

Ormsbee, Thomas Hamilton. “The Huguenot Silversmiths, 18th Century Refugees.” Collectors Weekly, 13 Mar. 2009, www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/the-huguenot-silversmiths-18th-century-refugees/.

“‘The Huguenot Silversmiths of London,” a Lecture by Dr. Tessa Murdoch.” Historic Huguenot Street, www.huguenotstreet.org/calendar-of-events/2018/5/10/the-huguenot-silversmiths-of-london-a-lecture-by-dr-tessa-murdoch.

A Victorian Civil War Revival Candlestick

The object I’m analyzing is a 19th century brass candlestick, known as a girandole, with a white marble platform. However, this isn’t an ordinary brass candlestick—there’s an entire scene depicted within the base of the candlestick. There is a Revolutionary war veteran in military garb, with a peg leg, standing next to a small, what looks like female, child under a tree. Both of the figures are wearing hats and holding a long, cylindrical object—the man’s looks like a cane, and the young person’s is of a similar shape but harder to tell what it may be. There are flowers and leaves at the feet of the figurines, and vines that adorn the tree, which stretches up to the base of where the candle goes. Right above the head of the soldier are eight faceted cut glass prisms that hang from the brass support in the shape of wood vine. The candlestick is 15 inches tall and about seven inches wide.

A later 19th century brass candlestick (girandole), reminiscent of both the Victorian and Colonial Revival eras, depicting a Civil War veteran standing next to a young child, underneath a tree

This object was located in the Deyo House on Huguenot Street. It was donated around 1958 by an eighth generation Deyo, who also contains some LeFevre heritage, Elizabeth Tallman Winne—her mother was Jane LeFevre Deyo. Winne lived in Kingston for most of her life. Winne made this donation along with a lot of other mid-19th century Victorian objects. By analyzing the objects she donated, it can be surmised that Winne was a collector of Deyo family items and of 19th century objects.

This candle stick is from the later 19th century, and characterizes the Victorian and Colonial Revival eras.

The eight faceted cut glass prisms hanging from the brass support wood vine. This is a stlye that is characterized by many girandoles of this time.

The Impact of our Clothes

I usually pride myself on being an avid thrift shop shopper, but sometimes, I cave into my consumeristic culture that promotes shiny new clothes and the promise of possibilities—a.k.a around almost every winter break I go to the mall and “treat” myself to a shopping spree. One store that I frequent, and am a bit ashamed to admit, is Forever 21. I used to shop there when I was in middle and early high school (before I discovered the wonderful world of thrift shops). But, the clothes are cute and cheap—although they’re cheap for a reason, which is where a lot of my consumer guilt sinks in.

This past winter I engaged in my now ritualistic trip to my local mall and paid a pretty penny at Forever 21. For this blog, I decided to analyze three of the sweaters I purchased there. For starters, each shirt was made in a different country: Cambodia, China, and Vietnam—all of which are a significant distance away from the Galleria Mall in Middletown, N.Y. But, even before it got to my mall, it had to go to a warehouse, or multiple warehouses. And before that it had to be flown from these countries to America. The raw ingredients to make the shirt also had to be cultivated and shipped to where they were manufactured. Each of the sweaters is made out of four materials, and usually a combination of two or three—rayon, polyester, spandex, or nylon.  A quick Google search led me into a whole other scientific world of how these materials are made—who knew there was so much science behind the clothes we wear.

Polyester, spandex, and nylon are all made out of plastic (which is a derivation of oil), and rayon is made from purified cellulose from plants. Before these clothes can be sewn together, the materials need to be made, which requires certain chemical reactions. The sweaters also had colors like cream, red, blue, gold, and one was strictly dark blue made out of a fuzzy nylon material. The dyes as well are made from synthetic sources, which rely on coal and petroleum to be made. The added impact and problem with clothes that are made out of synthetic fibers, like plastic, is the way they are disposed of. Often times, particles of these clothes get rubbed off and make it into our oceans in the form of micro-plastics. These items are cheap because they’re made from synthetic fibers and dyes that are harsh on our environment and because they have poor labor conditions. They received a score of a D+ from the 2017 Ethical Fashion Report, which looked at criteria involving payment of a living wage, transparency, and worker empowerment initiatives.

These clothes are shipped to all parts of the world as they are a global company that has stores in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines—that’s a lot of plane fuel. We also need to factor in the transportation that I used to get to the mall to buy those clothes. My house is about 18 miles from the mall—that’s 36 miles in total that I drove to go shopping.

All of this is just so I can treat myself to “new” clothes. I didn’t realize the extent to which clothes are derived from plastics. When buying an item, such as a sweater, we don’t usually think about everything that truly goes into that product before we take it from the hanger. However, I believe it’s really important to be an informed consumer about the impact our actions (and our clothes) are having on the environment, and the kinds of companies that we support. This analyzation of just three new pieces of clothing that I bought motivates me even more to buy secondhand—where I can walk to the Salvation Army in New Paltz and buy something that was already made.

The Book That Will Save the Earth

I don’t really have any items that have been passed down in my family, and so I’m lacking in an object that I can trace the chain of ownership of. However, I do have this book that I acquired a few years ago, and sometimes I like to ponder its chain of ownership. This book has an uncanny ability to capture my essence, my being, my spirit. Sometimes I think that this book and I were meant to meet, it feels as if it was made for me. It’s called 365 Ways to Save the Earth, by Phillippe Bourseiller. I’m incredibly passionate about environmental issues and have heavily involved myself in that world on and off campus—through internships, clubs, and attending community meetings and events. Environmental advocacy, whether through the channel of politics or communications, is one of the possible paths I want to take after college. I firmly believe in the issue of climate change and climate justice, and working towards a more sustainable future for everyone, but I also really just enjoy nature and being outside and soaking in the beauty.

The encapsulating book.

I bought this vast book for $1 at the Elting Memorial Library Fair during my freshman year here. I saw this book, laying among the rest, and it was an instant connection—I had to have it. The book’s bold cover, a clear photograph of a mother and baby whale swimming together in a melancholy blue ocean, and its thick, yet compact size is what caught my attention, and then of course, the title. I’m a big book lover, and a big earth lover, so this book seemed perfect. I immediately reached for it and was filled with joy, excitement, and appreciation. This book hits a deep chord for me, and I was inspired by the title, 365 Ways to Save the Earth, and already started to think of the kinds of projects I could do with it. The book is also reflective of the time in which I got it. I was a freshman, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, with a lot of energy and an activist spirit—I wanted to take on the world, and this book seemed like a pretty good start. Once the book was in my hands, I wasn’t going to let it go, and especially finding out it only cost $1, it made it really easy to not let go. I was amazed. I felt like I was practically stealing the answers to the universe—for a $1! I couldn’t stop showing it off to people once I had gotten it, and I would find myself getting lost, flipping among the pages, carefully reading each tip and studying the photos. I still always have it with me today, and while I look at it less often, I always keep it by my desk, so I can see the cover and be reminded of that magical day, and reignite my passion.

From the side.

One could characterize this book as a “coffee table book.” It’s hefty, intriguing, and has a lot of pictures—easy for guests to peruse through. The book is filled with awe-inspiring and breathtaking photographs of nature—from volcanoes, to elephants, to glaciers, and sea slugs. Each page contains an environmental tip for each day of the year on how we can strive to live a more sustainable and environmentally-conscious life on one page, and a beautiful image on the other, showing us exactly what our actions could be saving. Some tips are easier than others–to reuse materials before buying new ones, or start a compost–and others are a bit harder–like switching the way your house gets energy. Some also call on us as citizens of our respective countries to put pressure on our politicians and demand change. One aspect that I really appreciate about this book is its global mindset—there are photos from all around the world, places you may not even known had existed, or parts of the world you never thought you would see. It also has a universal nature, anyone can relate to this book, even if some of the tips don’t apply to you or aren’t feasible, we can still appreciate the stunning photos of this world that we share.

The inside of the book: an environmental tip (“Read and know your poultry labels”) and a stunning picture to match.
A close up of a tip urging us to speak up.
A close up of the adjoining photo–a true wonder.

The book was published in Paris and New York in 2005. It was originally written in French. The photographs are a compilation of the photographer’s work, Bourseillier, over the past 15 years capturing nature from all angles (leaving no stone unturned). The book originally cost $29.95 in the U.S—I got it for a $1. I bought it used from the library fair, but it’s in really great condition, the binding has just become a little loose. I sometimes think why someone would give this (perfect) book away. There’s no note written in the front cover, as you sometimes see when buying used books. None of the pages are marked or folded. There’s almost zero trace of the past owner(s) or of human touch. Maybe it was owned by a couple who had it on their coffee table, but tired of the message. Maybe it was received as a gift, maybe someone had gotten all that they could from it, and wanted to spread the knowledge. Maybe someone had bought it second hand before I did. Maybe the person knew the photographer and had multiple copies. But I wonder, how did this beautiful book make its way to the Elting Memorial Library Book Fair in New Paltz, NY, during the fall of 2015, and make its way now into my possession? I wonder how long I’ll hold onto it, if I’ll ever donate it (probably not). Maybe I’ll give it to one of my children, if they’re environmentally inclined, and perhaps spark a passion that my mom sparked in me.

The Ring that Speaks

My Claddagh ring.

The object I chose for this post is my Claddagh ring. I’m practically 100% Irish on both sides, with an ambiguous amount of German on my dad’s side (along with Irish) and a family legend of a splash of royal Norwegian blood on my mom’s side—a love child between my Irish grandma and a Norwegian prince three generations back. But the Irish is what I stick to and feel the most close to. I feel this connection more deeply through my mom’s side, her parents were immigrants from Ireland and three of her older siblings were born there. It wasn’t until I became a teenager that I began to take a deeper interest into my close Irish heritage and their culture. I started to read more about Ireland, watch shows and documentaries, and I started to ask my mom more questions about her memories of Ireland when she would visit as a kid, and the stories that her mom would tell. Her dad didn’t like to talk much about Ireland—he grew up in the West to a poor farming family and experienced hard living. Whereas my grandma grew up in the North, in Derry City, and had fonder memories. My mom loved hearing stories from her mom about growing up in Ireland, and all the cast of characters that my grandma had known while there. My love for Ireland came from my mom’s love for Ireland, which was instilled in her by her mom’s love for Ireland. Out of all of my siblings, (I’m the youngest of four) I was the one to take the keenest interest into Ireland and could talk for hours with my mom about our family there and hear all of the rich stories.

My deep love for Ireland was known in my family, which is why it meant so much to me when one of my brothers got me a Claddagh ring for Christmas a few years ago. I was so excited, elated, and touched when I opened the jewelry box and saw it patiently waiting there. The Claddagh ring is one of the most known symbols of Ireland and I couldn’t wait to proudly wear it. From that day on I have worn it every day and feel out of place when I don’t have it on. I know my brother got it from a local jewelry store in my hometown, but I don’t know anything else about its manufacture—was it designed and created in Ireland and shipped over here? This ring lacks the heirloom quality that most Claddagh rings have, but it inspires me to start that tradition if I have children one day, and pass it down, and keep the story and love of Ireland alive.

The Claddagh ring is one of the most fascinating objects to me. It has a duality to it. It has a utilitarian use, while also used as an adornment. At its most base level, the way in which the Claddagh ring is worn communicates to the world whether you’re single (the heart is out) or whether you’re taken (the heart is in). The message is a bit cheeky, with hints of flirtation embedded. Just by looking at the wearer’s finger, a person can know whether they can pursue this person or not. Then there’s the symbolism in the details of the ring—two hands clasping a heart, with a crown on top. The hands symbolize friendship, the heart, love, and the crown, loyalty. It’s such a simple piece of jewelry that manages to communicate so much all at once. The ring can be given to a lover, a friend, or a family member. There are various versions of the ring—mine is plain silver and very simple, while others can be more flashy with gems. The Claddagh ring is also very progressive—both men and women can wear them. The ring is named after a small fishing village outside of Galway City and has multiple origin stories of how it first came to be—but in all the stories the ring was used to express love. The ring has a significant meaning within families, as it’s typically given by a mother to the oldest daughter, with the purpose of being continuously passed down. When a lot of the Irish first immigrated to America during the famine, this was one of the few possessions a family would have and was kept as an heirloom, and sometimes was their only form of monetary savings.

I received the ring in an untraditional way—from my brother instead of my mom, and I’m the youngest daughter. However, I believe this symbolizes the changing nature in which the ring is viewed and worn. I believe it used to have a much more religious and traditional role, and while it still does, the ring has become a bit more liberalized, just like the country of Ireland itself. In recent years, Ireland is distancing themselves from the controls of the Catholic Church, as a new, more progressive, generation is coming up (they’re the first country to legalize same sex marriage and have made abortions legal). The ring can still be used for sacred purposes, like a wedding ring, or it can just be worn as a proud statement of one’s heritage, or just simply as a piece of jewelry, for those that perhaps aren’t Irish. While the beautiful meaning and symbolism behind the ring still stand, the purpose of the ring, and who can wear it, has become more flexible, in conjunction with a changing, liberalized Ireland.

Source: https://www.celtic-weddingrings.com/claddagh-ring-meaning es

My Mantra Mug

The inspirational mug.

The object that I chose appears rather ordinary at first glance. It’s a plain, black, ceramic mug. The two things that would make it stand out is the quote printed on it that takes up the front, and its size, as it appears to be a bit larger than a regular mug, measuring about 5 inches in width (including the handle, 3 inches without it) and about 4 inches in height. The mug is quite heavy, even without all my contents in it, giving it a feeling of sturdiness and reliability. It has a smooth finish to the touch and a sleek look, which the black color helps to contribute to. Because the mug is almost entirely black, it has this shine to it. When the natural light touches it, it’s as if the mug takes it in, and proudly wears it on its surface.

The shine.
So sleek.

Without the text on the front, this would just be a plain black mug. The words help to give it a supplemental meaning, pushing it beyond its role of simply being a mug for people to put contents in. The words transform the mug from a cup that holds things to an object that conveys wisdom and inspiration. The quote on the front reads, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. –Neale Donald Walsch-,”. All of the words are in capital letters, to convey a boldness and resonance with the reader. The typeface is soft, but clear. Both of these qualities help to further communicate this simple, yet powerful message. The way that the words are arranged on the mug is aesthetically pleasing. The quote is written vertically, reaching from top to bottom. This style opposes how words are normally written, horizontally, but in this deviation lies the aesthetic, and is what makes it appealing to the viewer—it stands out. To go a bit deeper, the “different” way that the words are arranged could symbolize the act of pushing out of our comfort zones and challenging the status quo. The arrangement of the words mimic how we might see a simple poem written, adding emphasis to each word as we read it and conveying a significance to each word—they’re carefully and purposely placed. Like certain poems, the appearance of both the mug and the words on it are powerful in its simplicity, but unveil a deeper meaning—to implore us to take that leap, to live life with a level of fearlessness.

My relationship to this mug made me think of Daniel Miller’s conversation in Stuff about the functionality of objects compared to their social or cultural meaning. I don’t use the mug the way I “should.” I have never put liquid in this mug or drank from it. I have deprived the mug of its main “function,” and replaced it with a function that means much more to me. I keep this mug on my desk, and fill it with my pens, markers, scissors, highlighters, etc. I have turned it into a medium for school, rather than a medium for sipping. However, I believe it serves a better purpose on my desk, where I do my academic work, where I can view it and have it as a constant reminder to heed its message. This mug has a deeper meaning to me, personally. Before I left for college, my best friend from home, Katie, got me this mug as a parting gift. We were both leaving everything we had ever known—our home, the familiar, the comfortable—and we were leaving each other. Katie has helped shape me as a person, and has believed in me in times that I haven’t. She has a knack for recognizing things in myself before I even do. She knew I was apprehensive about leaving for school, but also knew the potential I had in me. This mug conveys a message she has always been sharing with me and encouraging me to do. The quote on this mug has been my mantra throughout these four years in college. It has guided and steered me through all of my experiences here. Those words pushed me to put myself out there and just go for it, which has led me down incredible paths where I’ve been given amazing opportunities and met wonderful people.

Tidying is Magical

I felt really inspired after reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up. One of the things that struck me the most is her basis on how to decide whether to keep or discard an item, by asking ourselves—does this spark joy? This is a brilliant way of measuring whether to keep an item because it gets right to the heart of the matter—does this make me happy? And, if we have spaces only with things that bring us joy, the space then becomes happier, and we, in turn, feel happier being in that space.

I’m a pretty neat person and try to periodically go through my things and donate what I don’t use anymore, however, this experiment opened my eyes to the things that I’ve still been holding onto that I really don’t care about, want, need, or use anymore, yet would turn a blind eye to when going through things because I think one day I’ll use it. For this experiment, I went through my t-shirts and sweaters. Clothes are one of the things I hold onto for way too long. I developed a pretty sizeable mound of clothing as I amassed them into one pile on the floor, but this helped me realize how much I do have, and deep down knowing how much of it I actually wear and how much I don’t. This experiment made me confront those items that I know deep down I won’t ever wear again, and just take up space.

Big pile of stuff

As I grabbed each item of clothing and examined it in my hands, I asked myself, does this spark joy? Some items were an immediate yes, and some a hard no, while others I really had to stop and think for a bit. However, that question helped me to decide what I want and don’t want, because when getting rid of clothes, I usually ask, could I see myself wearing this again, or does it still fit? The answers are usually yes because I rationalize that one day I will feel the need to pick up that sweater I haven’t worn in years and strut it out. The question of whether it sparked joy changed my way of thinking, and allowed me to make those decisions. I was surprised by some items that I discarded—shirts that I swore I would always keep and used to wear to death, but they served their time and purpose, and don’t spark joy the same way they used to—and that’s okay.

I kept thinking of Kondo’s method of thanking your items when getting rid of them. This is a reason why I don’t get rid of clothes, I feel bad and guilty. However, her words really helped me. When I looked at a shirt that I was no longer keeping, I thought of the good times I had in it and the purpose it served me, and felt grateful. I thanked it for coming into my life, and allowed myself to let it go, knowing that it has fulfilled me as much as it could.

T-shirt drawer before, stuffed and unable to easily close
T-shirt drawer after…able to close with ease 🙂

By the end of the experiment, I had discarded a little less than half of the clothes in my original pile. My one drawer with a lot of my t-shirts could now close with ease, without having to jam all of them in there. I felt lighter and freer, and I didn’t feel guilty about letting things go. It makes me feel less stressed and anxious knowing I only have items that really spark joy in me and that I love to wear. This experiment made me think of all the old books and notebooks that I have in my room at home, and it inspires me to go home and do this same experiment. I hold onto things longer than I should because I assign a sentimental value to it and feel guilty about “wasting.” However, notebooks I tell myself I’ll look at, or items of clothing that I tell myself I will wear, I never do. In thinking about Kondo’s discussion of things having feelings, I realized that it’s better to take a moment to feel the gratitude for the item, and thank it, and let it go, than to shove it into a corner where it never sees the light of day and collects dust, just so I can have the mental ease of knowing that I have it. It made me realize that I can assign too much meaning or value to items that don’t actually spark joy in me anymore, and that I’m trying to hold onto some past event or past time in my life. It’s better to be thankful and move toward a future, than be stuck in the past.

Discard pile, a little less than half of the original!
Keep pile…and feeling more full of joy 🙂