The Secret Life of Art Supplies

            My spare closet in my apartment is dedicated to a lifelong collection of art supplies. Some of it came from my high school, where I got art supplies to finish projects at home. Some of it came from bulk purchases during the same period when there was a sale at the local Michael’s. Some of it is from recently when I took up embroidery and crochet. But a fair amount of my supplies were gifts from older family members.

            Many supplies don’t have expiration dates. Like that bottle of honey in your pantry, there’s a tendency of holding onto things that seemingly last forever. People keep them, thinking that perhaps they will revisit them or pass them along to someone who will use them. There’s also a sentimental value. A reminder of hobbies abandoned; perhaps, a reminder of a loved one. Because of this, supplies are sometimes kept for generations. They become a time capsule of a bygone era.

            My most recent inheritance was a shoe box full of embroidery floss that belonged to my boyfriend’s deceased grandmother. When I opened the box, it was like meeting this long-gone woman. As I picked up each little bag, meticulously organized and labeled by numerical color code, I felt a kinship. The week before, I had organized my own floss by color into Zip Lok Baggies, so I understood the motivation behind her actions. But she went further- her baggies were specifically designed for holding embroidery floss. The genius in these little baggies is that they come with a hole for a key ring to pass through. I have been stuffing my floss in empty pill bottes when I travel- having them organized and separated is a game changer. I immediately bought the baggies on Amazon.


            It was the only piece I had of the complex puzzle of someone. While incomplete, it was fascinating and beautiful; her personal retreat from reality was this box. In some cheesy, abstract way, we are interacting through these threads unfettered by the passage of time.