Sunday, February 5, 2012

Accumulation or Collection?

What is a collection? vs an accumulation?

In the past few days I've talked about collections of things that are brightly colored - paintings, glassware, etc. And I showed them against our bright white kitchen counter. Here's a bowl full of brightly-colored fruits reminiscent of the group of Nyiri paintings from last week. But is this bowl of edible items a collection?

Most of us probably wouldn't call this a collection, even though the bowl contains a carefully arranged assortment of yellow, orange and red peppers. Where's the green? you'd ask, wondering why I didn't put any green peppers in. Then Why one tomato and one lemon? Why are those in there?

Based on this bowl of peppers, I came up with my own set of 10 rules for collections:

  1. May start by accident but must continue with deliberate intent and specific choice (pre-meditated)
  2. Need not contain one of everything, especially at the beginning (no green; they weren't on sale)
  3. By definition, does not include everything; some things are out (peppers ok, no citrus)
  4. Limits are imposed by economics (price of green peppers), storage (bowl) or other factors
  5. Collected items may have utility but need not be used (watches not worn are still ok)
  6. Items in the collection must have a tolerably long life span (collecting ice cubes wouldn't work)
  7. Changes may occur over time as tastes evolve or the collected items deteriorate (get eaten)
  8. If someone else uses item from the collection, the collector bristles (shouts, removes from reach)
  9. Collected items must invite the collector to arrange and rearrange them (beauty in combination)
  10. A collection must please the collector and at least one other (collections are best shared, admired and envied)
I looked at one set of items in my kitchen. I think it's the beginning of a collection but my wife and other friends disagreed. They say it's an accumulation. Or just utilitarian cookware. What do you say?

These are all cast-iron pans. You can see round 7", round 8", round 9", square 10" and round 12" skillets. A 10" Dutch oven, and a 7-compartment biscuit pan. The makers I can identify include Griswold, Lodge and Wagner Ware. Several are devoid of any maker's marks. All are oiled, seasoned, virtually indestructible, and constantly used (except the biscuit pan).

We got the largest skillet by accident from a relative and we liked cooking in it. I hunted down the rest of the round skillets. I bought the square one just to cook bacon and grilled cheese sandwiches. I purchased the Dutch oven specifically, so I could bake country bread loaves in it. I have no idea why I bought the biscuit pan.

I haven't pursued this collection for awhile. I'm busy with collecting other things. But when I go into antique (or kitchen supply) shops, I look at the cast-iron pans. If I see something I like, I might buy it. Does that constitute "intent"? Is it premeditated? Is this collecting in the first degree?

Are my cast-iron pans a collection? Or an accumulation? You tell me. They're certainly not colorful.