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Collecting Memories

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I am not sure if a passion to collect things is genetic, but it would not surprise me if it was!

My grandmother was an antique and collectible picker.  She drove through the countryside in Michigan stopping at farmhouses to ask if they had any china or glass they wanted to sell.  Though she was never wealthy by any means she always had her savings and by the end of her life had acquired an enviable collection of Flow Blue which she thoroughly enjoyed using as she shared stories of where she found each piece. Collecting was her passion which she combined with her wits to raise three children on her own and eventually open a resale shop in Hollywood where she sold gowns that belonged to stars like Lana Turner, Judy Garland and Mrs. Frank Sinatra.

My mother’s wedding gift from my father was an English mantle clock bearing the saying “Time is Money” they found on a road trip through Canada shortly after they were married. Together they hunted for American primitives and furnished the California ranch style house they built just before I was born. Mother even found hand made wall-to-wall rag carpet, which was the talk of all of my friends when they came over to play. Our lamps were made from old coffee grinders and cast iron hitching post finials, which my grandfather proudly transformed for her. Wonderful old copper kettles decorated our knotty pine kitchen. Mother funded much of her collecting by selling to dealers just like my grandmother did.

I always find beauty in things that are odd and imperfect, they are much more interesting.


What was so special about our house and my grandmothers? They were the homes of collectors who were passionate about the hunt, and they built their lives piece by piece around these “gems”, and decorated with pure love.

By elementary school this collecting, buying-and-selling thing was totally ingrained in me! I understood that if I wanted my own money, I should treasure hunt for things to sell.  I found that I could use my artistic skills to create my own “products”, and before long I was like a little traveling salesman selling my repurposed creations throughout our neighborhood. By high school I had developed my business skills and refined my collecting style to Art Nouveau, and I still have the very first embroidered silk shawl I found at the thrift shop, which I bought with money earned designing my hand wrought sterling silver jewelry.

These are some of my most precious memories. They involve the people I love so much and miss. But when I look around at my own house filled with things I have collected over my own life, I am reminded of all of them.  Like angel spirits, they are still here with me smiling down and I can almost hear them say  “good find Jill! “ as I sort through my collection of antique linens, bits and jewels to create something beautiful with them.

In collecting we build a life piece by piece and create memories that last for generations

Love, Jill

6 Thoughts to Collecting Memories

  1. Mick Kelsey Reply September 21, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Wow, what a wonderful story! You are quite the woman Jill! All my best to you on this newest of your adventures!

  2. Vicki Palmer Reply September 21, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    I love your style, decor and gorgeous creations. I am so looking forward to your book.

    • Jill Garber Reply September 21, 2015 at 8:05 pm

      I so love hearing from other “kindred spirits”. Thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing – it makes this big world feel a little cozier!

    • Jill Garber Reply October 13, 2016 at 5:20 pm

      Dear Vicki,
      Thank you very much! I see your posts on social media and we are kindred spirits of style in our collections. How fortunate to have an eye for beauty and be able to enjoy discovering beautiful bits of history! Much love, Jill

  3. Tracy Boetel Reply August 29, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    Ms. Garber, I have read and read again the article about Nouveau Rose in “Women Who Create” magazine. The images of your creations, the gold and plaster roses you use in your work, and your aesthetic in general, inspire me, and your workroom, with bolts of beautiful fabrics peppered about, takes my breath away. I am teaching myself how to paint roses, and I hope one fine day, I will be half as good at creating and collecting, as you are. Thank you so much for your inspiration, and for creating such a beautiful environment. You have helped me to see beauty all around me, in the smallest & rarest of places. Best wishes, Tracy (Boetel)

    • Jill Garber Reply November 6, 2017 at 8:12 pm

      Dear Tracy,
      What lovely sentiments you have expressed, and I appreciate it so much. Trust your vision, be patient and remember there are opportunities to create all around you, we must simply seize them. We can each leave our own very personal beautiful mark on this world. Sending love, Jill


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