When you live in a small space, you learn to edit out the useless stuff as often as you take out the garbage. It’s a constant battle to keep the clutter from closing in on you, while still enjoying those little bits that bring soul into your space, and it can mean the difference between feeling overwhelmed and feeling at peace.
During our battles against stuff we have no room to store, we inevitably come up with a recurring thought: What possessed me to buy this? We usually ask ourselves that question when we’re holding up some knick-knack completely bereft of soul — another tealight holder, a fake plant, plastic Buddha statuette, mini “zen” fountain, set of napkin rings or coasters — often grabbed in a moment of weakness, another example of retail therapy that provides a 15-minute high, and all made in China under dubious labour and environmental conditions.
Six months later, that “really cute” cheese plate set, chocolate fountain or plastic mini chandelier holds no value at all. In fact, this growing clutter of cheap chatchkas simply serves as a reminder of how much money we’ve thrown away and how much room we don’t have. So out they go.
Whether we’re conscious of it or not, our forced decision-making process of what stays and what goes is based on the back story of each object, as opposed to the object itself. If it was a gift, it’s likely to stay. If its purchase was connected to an event, like a backpacking trip through Europe, or our first real job, it stays. If it’s useful — not just theoretically, but used regularly — it stays. If we know and appreciate the labour and skill that went into its making, or if it’s one of a kind, we hold on to it.
That’s why events like the annual Circle Craft fair this weekend thrive despite the general glut of mass-produced home décor items out there. We get the back story of the items displayed by 260 Canadian artisans. Those pieces have soul.
It’s why I love my over-the-top purple flocked moulded purse I splurged on at the Circle Craft fair a couple years back. Because the Quebec artist explained how he made it, and because it reminds me of a rare day together with a close friend, it lives on my bedroom closet doorknob — while other purses have gone to goodwill.
The Circle Craft Christmas Market runs until Nov. 11 at the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre.