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Is That a Toy Camera?

September 21, 2022

Objects can not only have different names—flipflops vs. thongs; church key vs. bottle opener; bubbler vs. drinking fountain—but different hidden meanings.  

Maybe that’s not just a handbag. Instead, it’s a Christmas gift from your grandfather the year before he died, and you think of him every time you see it.  

Or that’s not an unused faucet part, but a token reminding you that hard problems need solutions and sometimes you have no choice but to be the one to solve them.  

Brass Water Tank Faucet

 
 
© 2021 108 Beloved Objects

And you don’t hold onto worthless trinkets like toy cameras. You just wish you’d made a better impression on the great Ansel Adams. 

 small toy camera made of bamboo

 
 
© 2021 108 Beloved Objects

Photos can’t talk. (We’ve discussed this before.) 

Objects can’t talk either. 

The meaning behind each could transform something from random object to family heirloom, thrift shop consignment to cherished keepsake, trash to life parable. Have you read about the solo sandal?

Share a hidden story, a piece of you, and consider making space in your life for the unexpected. Storysharing can be freeing, as one author will undoubtedly convince you tomorrow, Thursday, September 22, during part two of our free series Evenings with Artifcts. 

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

What's New at Artifcts
Not Sure What to Write? Tips from Guest Jeff Greenwald

He's authored 1000s of articles, several books, and what's maybe the first known travel blog. And on Thursday night during Evenings with Artifcts Jeff Greenwald shared with us simple but powerful tips, and a healthy dose of perspective, to help us craft our own stories behind the objects of our lives.  

Watch the full Evenings with Artifcts event here.

  • It is hard to write about an object with no personal meaning but even harder when it has tremendous personal meaning. Bear that in mind and go easy on yourself. 

  • Start with something true. This is the trick to writing anything nonfiction. For example, start with a little line about where you got the object: “I bought this in a street market in Istanbul.” And from there go on to describe the scene a little bit and what happened there that connects you with the object.  

Start with something true.

  • Other starters for your Artifcts:  

        • Where were you when you acquired the object? 
        • Was it a gift? Who gave it to you? Tell a bit about them. What was your relationship with them that they felt they should give you a gift like that? “The moon Rocket was a gift for my friend Dave Mccutcheon, and he and I have been friends for many years and share a love of robots and spaceships and dinosaurs... all those things we loved when we were kids.” 
        • Why is it important to you?
        • What feelings does it evoke in you?
  • If a story comes to mind, you can just start jotting it down anywhere. Let your thoughts go where they will. It can be a collection of random thoughts that you can look at later and put together into some sort of a story structure. 

  • We all have stories. Writers block comes from our internal critic. It challenges you with, “Why would anybody want to read it? What could you have to say? What makes you think you're so great that anyone should listen to anything you're telling them?” You have to tell yourself, “I have a right to do this because I’m a human being with a story, and the story deserves to be told whether or not you, my internal critic, thinks that it does.” Push the internal critic aside. 
I’m a human being with a story, and the story deserves to be told.
  • If you value the stories and need motivation to begin capturing and preserving those stories with Artifcts, make a deal with yourself like Jeff did. Jeff made a pact to give away the objects once their stories were told. Maybe you’ll choose to Artifct twice per week. Or perhaps you’ll start with those items that are most meaningful to you.  

  • A bit of advice Jeff shared from esteemed author Kurt Vonnegut: Write your stories as though you are writing them for one person, as if you are telling this person each of the stories. It gives all the stories a similar tone, a singular voice. 

  • Always include when and where the object was acquired. These are important details.

  • Struggling with a title? Write out 10 of them. It will help you to start to shape your story, too.

Our stuff, the objects that we collect, that inspire us, they are really not what's important. We do not need to keep them. The only thing that is important are the stories, and the only way to keep the stories is to tell them.

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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The Evenings with Artifcts Series, Fall 2022

Throughout fall 2022, we're hosting Evenings with Artifcts on Thursday evenings. Our guests in this nine-part series dive into the world of 'stuff' and stories. Below we've provided a week by week feature for each speaker in the series and direct links to the speaker's Artifcts, other related ARTIcles by Artifcts, and the Evenings with Artifcts event recordings. 

Want to suggest a speaker for future live events? We'd love to hear from you! Please contact us at Editor@Artifcts.com.

EVENINGS WITH ARTIFCTS

Matt Paxton joins Evenings with Artifcts

Week 1: Matt Paxton (@IAMMATTPAXTON)

Host of the TV show Legacy List with Matt Paxton

DOWNSIZING, CLEANING, ORGANIZING, STORY TELLING

 

Related content: 

- 15 Decluttering Targets for Artifcters

- Event replay on YouTube

Jeff Greenwald joins Evenings with Artifcts

Week 2: Jeff Greenwald (@Jeffji)

Acclaimed author, artist, photographer, and speaker

WRITING, TRAVEL BLOGGING, STORIES BEHIND THE OBJECTS

 

Related content:

Is That a Toy Camera?

- Not Sure What to Write? Tips from Jeff Greenwald

- Event replay on YouTube

Dutch Miller joins Evenings with Artifcts

Week 3: Dutch Miller (@Gardenboy)

Estate planner, hobby family historian, Smithsonian volunteer

ESTATE PLANNING, FAMILY HISTORY & LEGACY

 

Related content:

- Gift Your Loved Ones a "Why" (Coming soon!)

- Visit Event replay on YouTube > (Coming soon!)

Read more
15 Decluttering Targets for Artifcters

People love to prescribe decluttering. Often, they even give you tips on how to get started. The lists to help you think through what “goes” typically go something like this: 

      • Is it broken? 
      • Is it a component (like a cable or remote) to a gadget you no longer own? 
      • Do those clothes even fit anymore? Are they sporting holes? 
      • Holding onto legal and tax documents beyond their usefulness (e.g. 7 years for most tax documents)? 
      • Hmm, you don’t even know what the object is or why you have it?  
      • Is it expired, as in cleaners and paints, make up and fragrances, or spices? 

And so on. All valid options for a quick declutter. 

More frustrating is that the advice usually ends there or will weave in a, “Get rid of it, but take a photo first.” Really? I have 1,000s of photos to scroll through, I’ve forgotten the details, and, again, what am I supposed to do with the physical photos anyway? I’ll just do nothing, thanks. 

Why We Have to Talk About This 

We think standard decluttering advice is partly helpful, partly a clever ruse to distract you from and avoid an entire segment of ‘stuff’ - the stuff that also has sentimental value. “Time to let go,” they will say. And how exactly should I do that? Will you pay for my therapist? 

We’ve tapped the Arti Community for a fresh take on decluttering targets full of all those sentimental, history-filled, "just cool," or “you never know what it might be worth one day” things that make decluttering especially challenging. We know how hard it is.  

Let us know how these targets help you and which are missing. And, when in doubt, call in a specialist to help! We provide some ideas at the bottom of this article.

15 Decluttering Targets in the Age of Artifcts: Artifct, Share, and Let Go!

With contributions from Matt Paxton, host of the PBS series "Legacy List with Matt Paxton" and author of "Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff." 

1. OLD CAMERAS 

You know, the type that used actual film. And other gadgets that you remember the good ol’ days when you see. Anyone still hanging onto an original iPod?

* Expert tip: Like a passport, Artifct the camera and all the places it’s been! Then … how old are we talking? Maybe a local school or a child would be interested? If you want to sell it, you could check specialized marketplaces, including KEH Camera. As with any technology, please do not throw it away. Contact your local municipality about recycling, try tech vendors like Canon, or pop into local stores, such as Best Buy.

2. THAT OUTFIT YOU WORE ...

… when you graduated, honeymooned, won the big deal at work. If you’re Dolly Parton, yes, that sequin-embellished gown will likely go into a museum, so let’s just set those exceptions aside. For the rest of us mere mortals, you know the drill.

* Expert tip: Artifct it, and include a photo of you wearing it back in the day, if possible. 

3. CHILDREN'S ARTWORK

We all know it’s bountiful. So, let’s pick and choose what we keep, and no matter what, keep the stories. So, record the basics in each Artifct. They gave it to you when? How did they make it? What is it? Better yet, record them telling you and include the photo and video. There’s nothing like hearing those tiny voices again when they are all grown up.

* Expert tip: Tag the Artifcts with their name and age or grade for easy sorting: #Amara #1stGrade. 

4. FURNISHINGS

Come on, we’ve talked about this! We know whole rooms in houses not to mention pricey monthly storage units exist that are bursting with furniture you remember from parents and grandparents or are considered family heirlooms but that no longer have a place in your current life. Better than those bulky items hanging about are the stories that they bore witness to when you slept there, relaxed on those, placed family photos on them. 

* Expert tip from Matt Paxton: If you’ve decided to try to sell the item, list it on Facebook Marketplace and if it doesn’t sell in, say, 24 hours, then move it over to a Buy Nothing group and get it out. Remember your time is worth at least $25 an hour; do not spend six hours selling a $100 item. And don’t forget – you already decided you don’t want it, and you have the memory on Artifcts, which will easily outlive the use of the furniture. Don’t let haggling over the price ruin your decision to make space in your home. 

5. HOLIDAY DECOR

There could be any number of reasons—it’s faded, maybe slightly damaged, out of style—why you never take it out to use or display anymore. But you likely have a lot of history with it to Artifct and share.

* Expert tip: If it’s still useful, consider getting it to a donation center a few weeks before the holiday so others can pick it up to enjoy! 

6. VALUABLES

Consider your crystal, jewelry & watches, and collections (coins, stamps, statues, art): Are they worth more to you as cash to reinvest in other items you will care for or use more? Or could they be of greater value to someone else in the family? Take a hard look.

* Expert tip from Matt Paxton: I tend to Artifct the item and share it with my family members to see who has the best memory or story of the item before then making the final decision to sell it or gift it (and to whom). To help with your sell vs. gift decision, seek out the best industry specific site to price the item (e.g. Worthy.com for a wedding ring) or send the Artifct to Heritage Auctions using the “What’s it worth?” feature for a free valuation. 

7. HERITAGE AND HISTORICAL ITEMS

Baby bassinets, antique gowns, family bibles, tools of trade, we pass these items down through the generations, often with little care for their preservation. And they take up a lot of space, especially if you are the ‘family keeper’ and have the majority of the items.

* Expert tip: Small museums, historical foundations, and even professional archives may be interested and will in fact preserve them!  

8. RECIPES

Hanging on to a cookbook for a single recipe that was beloved? Combine a photo with your secret methods and ingredients and send that book on its way. And if you have a mess of recipes from a loved one that you never make but are holding onto just because, photograph the collection for a single Artifct, along with any singleton standouts, and then recycle.

* Expert tip: For truly special recipes, consider preserving or framing them. Maybe even turn them into something new, like this Arti Community member did with her mother's recipe.  

9. PHOTO ALBUMS

Bulky, yellowing, photos slipping, and, hmm, who is that in those pictures that are a bit blurry, too? If you have only one or two albums, this is really not a good category for you. If you have more, and they sit in shelves and boxes never opened, consider whether now is a time to digitize the pictures and Artifct the memories. Maybe you’ll even opt for archival-quality photo books to recast the past with fresh perspective in a coffee table friendly format!

* Expert tip from Matt Paxton: Trim down the massive collection to a more manageable pile before Artifcting, digitizing, printing for photo books, or sorting and gifting to relatives. Get rid of what you no longer need: duplicates, negatives (you haven’t used them yet, you don’t need them), generic landscapes (e.g. beaches and mountains with no identifiable people), and pictures of people you don’t know or don’t like. It’s okay to throw away pictures of your former in-laws that you haven’t spoken to in 20 years.

10. T-SHIRTS 

These are sneak-y! Durable, especially if they end up in the back of the closet or bottom of the drawer, as well as inexpensive, gift worthy, and great mementos. Suddenly you have dozens, some don’t fit or have yellowed stains, and/or they are otherwise ready to be retired. Some you might elevate to framing, others to those popular t-shirt quilts, a few in good condition to vintage clothing shops, and the rest, simple Artifcts with great stories.

* Expert tip from Matt Paxton: You could always offer them up to your favorite niece and Artifct you and her wearing your favorite Duran Duran t-shirt 30 years apart! If you think it’s cool, it’s probably cool to the next generation, too. Worst case scenario, Artifct them and give them to Goodwill. My biggest tip here is to make sure you are detailed when Artifcting. Give the details of the band, when you saw them, who you hung out with and WHY you loved the t-shirt so much. My kids loved my skateboarding t-shirts when they found out I met Tony Hawk at Mt. Trashmore in 1989. The beauty of Artifcting is that it allows you to put your family and friends in the moment with you to enjoy the memory as much as you do 

11. BASEBALL (FOOTBALL ETC.) TRADING CARDS

Those skinny boxes literally pile up, and you never kept them as pristine as you think. Share them with a neighbor kid or post them on freecycle or similar. Just move them on out.

* Expert tip: Suspect there’s hidden value? Artifct them and click “What’s it worth?” and Heritage Auctions will take a look!  

12. GLASSWARE, CHINA, SILVER

If you’re using them, this category is not for you. If you are dusting and polishing for "remember when" or "they belonged to {loved person}," Artifct them instead, check with family, and if there’s no taker, out they go.

* Expert tip: Not a tip, more of a confession. Co-founder Ellen Goodwin thinks a genius Etsy shop would sell gorgeous mixed china pattern sets. Unique design + reselling = a win win. Put her on the waitlist so it can join the family silver she saved!

13. BOOKS

Do you catch yourself reflecting on a funny passage, what was happening or where you were when you last or first read it, or maybe where you got it, and saying “Nope, it can stay for now.” How many books are in this category? Don't lie. Books carry intellectual and personal growth and even sometimes spiritual weight. But even with books you can capture the essence of what it means to you and move it on to the next reader.

* Expert tip: Check between the pages and then consider taking them to school book drives, local donation centers, or even shops like Half Priced Books. 

14. STUFFED ANIMALS

Okay parents, confess, how many of these creatures are more sentimental to you than your child (or future unborn grandchild)? And what about all those that are forgotten moments after receiving them? Or loved soooo much that they are probably a health hazard? 

* Expert tip: Local requirements vary, but you can offer cleaned toys to some fire stations and animal shelters and lovingly reminisce with Artifcts. 

15. TRAVEL MEMENTOS

We’re willing to bet if you collect them all in front of you, you could pick out the especially valuable ones to you from the lineup. Maybe the details have even grown pret-ty fuzzy. A memento might be cool, but if you feel a clutter crisis closing in on you or you simply want to lighten the load, it’s time to pare it back. 

* Expert tip: Matching items to photos or stamps in a passport, maybe with a bit of audio from you, is a fabulous way to relive those travels and offer a final tribute as you send it off to a new home. 

Sometimes We Need a Little Help

Decluttering help can take many forms, depending on your circumstances. Here are some additional resources that might be just what you need. 

Artifcts Concierge. Register free today on Artifcts.com to give Artifcting a try! We are also highly experienced in the art of capturing the stories behind objects and paying attention to the details that matter for your future depending on the ‘why’ you have the objects and what you may want to do with them next. We can provide virtual or in-person Artifcting support to propel you forward in your decluttering! 

Keys Guild. Collectibles advisors trained through the Keys Guild can provide onsite services to identify items of value for resale and the optimal outlets (i.e. top dollar) for selling the items. To learn if there is a Key in your area, use this contact form

NAPO. The National Association of Productivity & Organizing has a large nationwide membership base ready to help you organize, declutter, and more. Find a NAPO professional in your area by zip code here

Archivists. These professionals may be less familiar to you, but they are often working for or collaborating with institutions of all sizes and types that take donations. Consider original works of fiction or non-fiction; war memorabilia; scrapbooks, journals, letters, and diaries; and media (photographs, slides, film, even websites too). You can learn more and locate an archival consultant at The Society of American Archivists

Auction houses. Valuable items and collections may be a good fit for auction. Auction houses vary, some with broad specialties, others niche. Many now offer online auctions, not just traditional raise your paddle affairs. Their appraisal services for single objects and entire estates can also help inform which of your items will go up for auction or sale in any venue (e.g. auction house, 1st Dibs, Ebay, Etsy, Facebook Marketplace) and which maybe have more sentimental value. 

Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff.” If you’re in more of a “Let me think on it,” or do-it-yourself mindset, we recommend this book. Matt Paxton joined the Artifcts board recently but long before we even met him, we were fans of his book because of its practical advice, engaging stories, and litany of self-starter tips and resources.  

Happy Artifcting!

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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