I have to start off by telling you how I got to where I am in my Willow Pattern Collecting
I received my first piece of willow (showcased on my home page) after my husband and I got married. I was 20 and he was 19! Needless to say, we were entirely too young to get married, but I was expecting our first child.
We were sophomore’s in college, struggling to make ends meet and my mom at the time owned an antique, second hand shop in our tiny little town. My husband and I moved into my childhood home. It was a tiny two bedroom house, but had everything we needed to get started.
The kitchen had maple cabinets painted white. There were several layers of other colors too, but the yellow formica countertops shouted decorate with blue and white! My first piece of willow was the Japanese salt box pictured on my home page. Searching for additional pieces to complete a 6 place setting, was difficult.
It was slim pickings when the only places you could afford to shop was the Humane Society and Salvation Army thrift stores! At the time, there was no internet, so , while it sounds crazy, you actually drove around looking for your willow treasures!
The married life was not what I had envisioned. We were entirely too young to get married, but the shame we had brought our families by expecting a child out of wedlock, back in the 90’s was too much to bare. I always thought, the decans in the church are adults, surely they can count at least to 5! Eventually they will figure out 5 months later we had a child!
The pressures of being young parents, struggling to finish school and making ends meet took my husband and I both down destructive paths. Neither of us had our heart right with God and both of us turned to other vises to cope. He to alcohol and myself…validation and work.
Long story short, after 7 years, we had outgrown that tiny little house and two china cupboards sat filled with willow of all different manufacturers. Heck I didn’t know the difference….they all had birds, a bridge and pagoda. I found myself stopping at the mall book store and looking through antique books when I found that salt box, my very first piece valued at over $200.
Now back then we lived on nachos and cheese in the college cafeteria, $200 would have made us rich, but instead, to me it was nothing shy of treasure…and it was given to me! Hence my love of willow collecting began in 1996. 26 years later, I have a much larger home and 3,000 plus pieces of willow. I also have an Ebay app! Eeek, that is dangerous!
How on earth did I get here? Well my husband and I finally found recovery at a local church. We began to piece together the issues in our marriage and soon we began to find healing. We eventually built our own home and moved out in to the country. Once we began to make God the center of our lives, we began to work on ourselves individually and then our relationship. We are now approaching 25 years of marriage this upcoming March!
I am sure you can tell, I run a recovery program after being a participant since 2012. And I would like to say all I do is collect, but there really is a deeply rooted addiction down there. It just happens to look nice on a shelf or at a beautiful table!
Addiction comes in many forms and while I joke about collecting, the fact that I have had to box up the more common willow and take it to the basement tells me I do have an issue! The good thing is, it all has value and I can sell any of it if I truly needed to. I will not however move into another home, unless my life depends on it. I have accumulated way too much.
Why do I do what I do?
Why do I feel the need to look for that one rare piece?
When is enough enough?
I have to be honest here, after a childhood of chaos and a marriage that was no different for the first 17 years, I have found myself clinging to the next purchase. Patiently awaiting the mailman to bring it to me undamaged.
I learned early on as a child, the value of antiques and was often praised when I would help my mom locate a rare item at a yard sale or flea market. Just so you know, sitting in the dirt at the flea market playing, leaves one fairly dirty! Those were the good days!
Anyhow, I think each piece brings some form of fulfillment, and excitement. Unfortunately it does fade, so on to the next hunt! I joined the International Willow Collectors group back in the mid 90’s and found there are many other people out there like me. My husband and I attended 3 conventions before I was brave enough to pack up the set above and enter a place setting competition. Needless to say, I did win that competition!!!!!! I was hooked.
I did notice I was about the youngest of the adult group from a collecting perspective, but those days helping in my mom’s antique shop and at antique shows had groomed me into a collector. I saw value in what I collected and often times, the thrill of the hunt kept me going strong.
I have attended several conventions now and two years ago got to speak on willow pattern toby jugs. It is one of my favorite things to collect. Anyhow, I will say this is one area of my recovery where I am still active in addiction. I simply love looking for the next piece, learning where it came from!
#willowpattern #bluewillow #collecting #placesettings