Friday, September 26, 2014

Curating a collection - what to keep?

So you've bought some ponies, you've set them up on a shelf, you've admired them, and then you've gone about your day.  As a collector, you repeat this process over and again.  But at what point do you stop and look at what you have?  I've always held that it's not necessary to be constantly adding to a collection to be a collector.  Part of the enjoyment of collecting comes from contemplating what you already have, not only what you want.
Going through my collection and cleaning and photographing everyone is a way for me to do that, and to share my collection with my friends online.  It's also another form of curating, because while I'm going through and cleaning everyone, I'm also curating my collection.
Tastes and preferences change over time.  There have been points where I've sold ponies I originally bought for myself because, as I mentioned last week, I no longer liked them as much as I had.  I find this to be particularly true of the G3s, the first generation that I was able to buy in store while being an adult collector.  As such, I tended to buy nearly every pony I could get my hands on rather than making decisions at the time, and so I've had to thin out the herd after the fact.
I don't find this happens as much with the older generations.  Perhaps this is because they're a bit harder to come by, so I have lots of time to consider which ponies I want long before I get them.  Instead I end up deciding there are more and more ponies that I want, not fewer.  Hopefully, there will always be another pony.

Elf
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I've been pondering adding a section to blog posts to track what I'm working on.  You've no doubt noticed that I haven't been posting custom ponies lately.  This is not because I haven't been customizing, but rather that the jobs I'm working on now can't be shared until they get to their new homes.  I may not add this tracking list to all posts, but I think it's a way of keeping you in the loop until I can share my WIPs.

Current Customs:
Commissions: 1
Swaps: 1
Gifts: 1
Personal: 5

Current Cataloguing:
Ponies Cleaned: 15
Sets Photographed: 4
Photos Posted: 18

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Curating a collection - what to buy?

Curating is something I've mentioned a few times before, and I feel that it's an important part of being a collector.  There was a time when I picked up any and all MLP ponies and merchandise that I found, but soon enough my collection began to outgrow it's space.  At the same time I found that there were certain aspects of the MLP world that I either disliked or simply wasn't interested in.  It meant that I began to pick and choose which MLP items would stay in my collection.
It's an easy thing to say, but it's not always an easy thing to do.  In the G3 era, very little merchandise (school supplies, cosmetics, and the like) came to Canadian stores, and many store exclusive ponies didn't come North at all.  It was frustrating to hear about items that were available in the US but not here, and not always practical to ship them in.  As a result, I was unable to get some of the things that I would have liked.  The G4 era has the opposite problem, in that a great deal of ponies and merchandise available in Canada, sometimes more so than in the USA.
My initial reaction to so many G4 ponies and merch was to cheer and sweep it all into my shopping basket.  However, I soon realized that I was going to be overrun if I didn't start cherrypicking what I was going to purchase.  Since I view the brushable ponies as the main focus of my collection it was easy to choose to limit the amount of merchandise I would add to the collection, but not always easy to leave merchandise items behind in the store.
I also consider carefully which brushable ponies I will add to my collection, particularly when buying G4s.  In the G3 era, I tended to buy nearly every pony available in stores so that I wouldn't "miss out" on anything.  But I found later that I had several ponies that I wasn't overly attached to, couldn't remember the names of, or otherwise didn't care for.  This time around, I am trying to decide that I like the pony enough to keep her before I buy (I am not always successful at this endeavour).
This process helps to limit the amount of stuff that makes it into the Geek Cave.  Next week, I'll deal with the stuff that's already made it in.

Elf

Friday, September 12, 2014

Cataloguing continues

Since I keep going on about this cataloguing project, I figured I'd better have something in place to prove I'm actually getting some work done.  So I've created a page on my blog with links to the albums where I'm uploading pictures of my ponies as I clean and photograph them.  Check it out and check back often, I'll be uploading new pictures every few weeks.

http://www.northernelfpony.blogspot.ca/p/elfponys-collection.html

I'll be more or less trying to keep photos of sets together, but if you see three pics of ponies from a set together it's entirely possible that the 4th pony's pic is somewhere else in the album.  I've never had an issue with remembering who I've got in my herd, so that's not a problem.  The main purpose of this is to share my collection online.

In the meantime, I've switched from cleaning and photographing G1s to G3s for awhile.  This is for two reasons.  First, I have more G3 ponies that don't come with accessories (in the case of G3s, I'm not photographing them with their brushes), so there isn't the added step of trying to locate said accessories.
Second, the majority of my G3s were bought new, meaning I was the one to unbox them and put them on the shelf.  This also means that, in some cases, they've never been cleaned since.  They don't have the "dirt" issues that 2nd hand ponies can have, but they do have a pretty thick layer of dust accumulating.  Time to get rid of that.
The G3s also don't get quite as much attention as my G1s.  I figured it was time to give them some love.

Hope you enjoy the ride as much as I do.

Elf

Friday, September 5, 2014

Living with a Collection - Taking Up Space Part 1

How do you live with a collection, particularly when you're not the collector?  If you are a collector, have you even thought about that question before?  It's an important one.

A collection doesn't necessarily have to be large, or take up a lot of space, but the reality for a lot of collectors is that the collection is a noticeable presence in our homes and lives.  It takes up space, often a good deal of space.  How do you negotiate that space with the other people who share your space (or with yourself, for that matter)?
When I began collecting MLP as an adult, I was a university student sharing an apartment with 3 friends.  I also had a very small budget for collecting.  These elements helped me to limit my collecting because the ponies I got had to both fit on a shelf in my bedroom and also into my budget.  This behaviour probably coloured my collecting patterns later too, because when I moved into my own apartment, I still wanted to keep the Ponies confined to a certain area (in this case, shelves in my bedroom).  I didn't want the Ponies to be everywhere in the house.  It wasn't that I was ashamed of them or didn't want just anyone to see them, but I didn't want them taking over, either.
Later, when Roomy and I began to live together, the location of the collection was a topic of conversation.  Roomy also didn't want them all over the house, and I wanted to make sure they were protected from her cats (who had not lived with them all their lives, as my cats had).  We each agreed to certain things to ensure that we could both live with my collection - because although it was my collection, we both had to live with it.

It was important to both of us that we come to this agreement.  The last thing I wanted was for my collection to become the elephant in the room, so to speak, or in any way strain our relationship.  Roomy wanted to respect my love of the collection, but that didn't necessarily mean she wanted to look at it every day.  We compromised on that, and later we worked out how to share the Geek Cave when Roomy became a serious collector, as well.
So how do you come to a consensus?  In our case, we discussed the question before we moved in together, and made sure to be clear with our wants/needs so that everyone was on the same page.  "I don't want the cats touching my collection."  "Ok, then, the collection has to go behind a closed door."  "Fine, but I'd like your help getting the shelving set up, otherwise I'll be in there forever by myself."  And so on.  And when something didn't quite work out, we resolved the problem together.  The result is two happy people with two happy collections all able to live with each other.

Elf

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Being Creative

So last weekend we got the new workspace set up.  And then I promptly spent 7 hours working on custom ponies and another 5 hours working on the computer (colouring a couple drawings, updating my collection photobucket, and generally bumming around the internet).  It was awesome.

Then came Monday, and I had to go back to my day job.

I don't hate my job, and it does have some creative aspects to it, but it's not art-related.  Normally this isn't so much of a problem, but this past week, all I could think about was the perfectly set-up workspace that was at home and the fact that I wasn't there, creating.

The fact that I couldn't spend the entire week enjoying my new workspace doesn't mean that I couldn't spend any time creating art.  At work I doodle all the time, when I'm on the phone, waiting for documents to load (our system is notoriously slow), and sometimes on my lunch break.  My office walls have many of my work sketches pinned up, and my colleagues have commented on them several times.  They don't generally amount to much, but it's a way to pass the time and still be creative.

Sometimes I'll also make lists when I'm at work.  Lists of customs I plan to make, lists of baits I need, lists of supplies I want to look for, and lists of ideas to be fleshed out later.

Many of my colleagues also know I collect MLP (the 11 McD ponies, Pinkie Pie plush, and screen saver may have given me away).  They'll ask about my collection, about my customs, and quite often we'll get into some good chats.  Talking about the customs I'm currently working on helps me to flesh out ideas even when I'm unable to be actually working on them.

All this to say that not a day goes by when I'm not doing something creative.  It may not go any further than a quick doodle that eventually ends up in the recycling bin, but like any exercise, you've got to flex your muscles or risk loosing ground with your skills.  And then you're ready to run that artistic marathon when you get the chance on the next weekend.

Elf

Saturday, August 23, 2014

New workspace!

After 7 years of working on two tv trays to create custom ponies, finally, FINALLY...
A NEW WORKSPACE!  :D

I'm so happy.  *sniff*

I still have the cabinet to keep supplies in, but I now also have a giant table on which to work (with a plastic table protector to keep the paint off).  I also have space for my little display case that I can keep WIPs in, rather than having to pack everything up at the end of a session.  Also, the table is significantly higher than two tv trays, so I can paint and sculpt tiny details to my heart's content without completely destroying my back bending over.

In addition, Roomy has a new computer desk and filing system for writing/editing on.  We both have white boards up in our spaces for brainstorming and bookshelves for storing reference materials.  We also have a brand-spanking new printer/scanner/copier (so beautiful!).

Soon we'll have posters and art up too, to inspire us.

I spent 7 hours working on customs today in this space, and I'm ready to go back.

Elf

Friday, August 15, 2014

This will STILL be the year I catalogue my collection!

Did you think I had given up on cataloging my collection again?  No, the process was just slowed down by Fair preparation.  I'm still determined to eventually get everything photographed, listed, and organized.
To that end, I've spent some time today photographing some of my merchandise, and a few of the ponies who were ready for their photo shoot.  I've also cleaned the ponies I bought at this year's Fair (which is more than can be said for the poor ponies I bought at last year's Fair), so they'll be ready for their close up once their hair dries.
I very much doubt that I'll be done this project before 2014 leaves us, but I'm still further along than I've been with the project in the past.  Realistically, I won't have time to work on this project each weekend, but when I do, I'll be cleaning a few ponies at a time.  While I wait for these to dry, I'll be able to photograph the previously-cleaned ponies.
The more difficult aspect is the actual catalogue.  I don't currently have a functional laptop, and carrying ponies up and down from the top of the house to the desktop computer in the basement is not practical.  Ideally, I'd have a laptop with me in the Geek Cave, where I could access my excel file, update the pony's condition, and check if I own any of the accessories that go with her before I take my photograph.  In the meantime, I may just have to go back to pen and paper to record everything.
Ah, a collector's work is never done.  ;)

Elf