I have a lifelong love affair with junk — and by junk I mean only the most curious, amazing and unusual forgotten treasures. If it's old, I'm in love. Every garage sale is an adventure in anthropology, every thrift store and archaeological expedition. I've never seen a tiny trinket or shiny bauble I could resist, and I just adore antique ephemera. But all that junk has to go somewhere. Lest they find me buried alive by boxes of old papers, stacks of books and jars of gumball machine toys, JUNKMILL was born.
My fascination with junk started at a very young age. I used to dress up my mother’s finest hand-me-downs for a game I called, “Bag Lady.” (It was my favorite game.) It typically entailed an ensemble of several old dresses layered on top of each other, an old tan London Fog trench coat and several old paper shopping bags, the kind you used to get at fancy department stores.
With my best attire and bags in tow, I scoured the neighborhood for bits of treasure. Anything from discarded soda cans and pristine pine cones to little bits of plastic or long-forgotten toys from our sandbox ended up in the bags. And if it was trash day for our street … well, let’s just say my mother got her fair share of phone calls from the neighbors wondering why her little girl was playing in the rubbish.
It sounds a little icky in retrospect, but I’m still playing that odd childhood game. I’ve been known to pull furniture from dumpsters, make abrupt roadside stops to grab a box of old toys from the curb and even dig through mounds of dirt of excavate old rusty metal bits from half-buried lawn mowers and farm equipment. Not all of my treasure hunting expeditions are so glamorous, but I will go to great lengths to save something of value from the inevitable doom of the trash dump. I’d like to say it’s because I’m ecologically minded or frugal and pragmatic, but the truth is I just find junk to be quite interesting.
Whether it’s a discarded shopping list in the grocery store parking lot or a small tchotchke at a thrift store, once loved and now forgotten, all the ephemera of our strange and amazing culture has a story to tell ... and I love unearthing those stories.