I’m mesmerised by jessreeves12‘s IG and her kingdom of kitschy cute ceramic animals, kewpie dolls & plastic fantastic figurines, let’s find out more!!!
Hey Jess! Just how did this crazy-ass collection come about?
I think it is fair to say I have been a collector my whole life! My Grandma collects anything and everything and so I suppose it’s in my genes to be seeking objects out, arranging and rearranging them, bringing order and meaning to what other people often (inaccurately) describe as ‘junk’.
My current collection started during the third year of my Textiles degree when I used ‘collecting kitsch’ as the theme for my final collection and dissertation. I bought two ceramic cats from eBay to draw for the project and that was it – I was hooked! That was a little over two years ago and I now have around 300 pieces in my collection of creepy-cute and super-kitsch items and many more than this have passed through my hands during this time.
I started by just collecting 1960s Siamese cats. Then I started collecting deer. And then lambs. And then bunnies. Now if it’s kind of cute and kind of creepy, with big kawaii eyes or a little bow tie, or if it has a certain kitsch quality I’ll snap it up! I find it really difficult to describe what my collection is and what makes me want to collect a certain item. People usually try and guess what I’ll buy on a thrifting trip but no one else quite gets what I’m looking for – except possibly my boyfriend who invariably is the one I drag to bootfairs at 7am on a Sunday looking for the perfect addition.
Can you take us through your fave pieces and tell us their stories and why you love them.
I don’t normally like to buy from the US because of the expensive and (in my personal experience) unreliable shipping to the UK so it makes these Edward Mobley 60s squeak toys very hard to find – but I kind of like the thrill of the chase! I found three of these beauties on eBay UK and one I bought from a lovely lady by the name of Shevie who owns the Fine and Dandy Vintage Emporium in Cornwall. I absolutely love these large scale squeakies and desperately want more!
I have 12 vintage kewpie dolls and I collect them because they embody exactly what I love; creepy-cute, plastic-fantastic vintage! They mean so much to me my boyfriend and I got matching kewpie tattoos!
I love these because they are so perfectly cute and kitsch and as a lifelong Disney-obsessive I had to have them! They can command very high prices but I bought a pair fairy cheaply on eBay because one had a broken leg. I found the other about a year later at flea market – I got it for a good price after showing the seller my Bambi deer tattoo!
Pair of Cat Moneybanks
I found the green one on Etsy – I didn’t have anything green in my collection and I do like variety! I was so excited to find the flowery one a few months later – I just love to find ‘matching’ items and reunite them in my collection!
The bigger deer was my first squeak toy, bought again from Fine and Dandy, and is so kawaii! I am a sucker for anything pastel coloured and look at those big eyes – and it squeaks! It was a no brainer, I snapped her up immediately. I found the pink baby a year or so later and was over the moon to have reunited this pair in my collection.
The brown and black cat in the middle of the picture is one of the first two cats I bought for my project and I have since found another seven of these cuties! I love that they are all in the same pose in different colour combinations and a big thanks to my Nan who has helped find two of these while rummaging in charity shops on my behalf.
These strange looking dogs were found by my boss at work in a box of random samples and she correctly guessed that I would love them! I can’t really put my figure on what it is about these that I love but I really do.
Miss Priss Salt and Pepper Shakers
Perhaps the most ‘valuable’ pieces in my collection in terms of money. There is a whole Miss Priss tea service set that I hope to eventually gather together – I’m in this for the long haul!
You’ve recently sold some pieces, was it difficult to let go?
It is certainly difficult in some ways – the hoarder inside me just wants to keep everything and anything! – but as time passes what I find myself collecting changes and things that used to fit perfectly no longer look right amongst everything else. When I first started I mainly collected china animals but this has evolved over time and now I mainly find myself buying vintage toys and plastic pieces. This means I have to sell some of the earlier items that no longer feel right to make room for more pieces that fit the new direction of my collection.
Where do you go to hunt for new additions to your collection?
I am a self-confessed eBay addict – I probably search eBay at least three times a day for new treasure which is possibly a little unhealthy! But persistence is key and I have found some absolute gems over the last couple of years. My favourite way of finding new pieces is definitely bootfairs and flea markets – nothing can beat that feeling of rummaging through someone else’s stuff at 7.30am on a Sunday and stumbling across something amazing for 50p! I have also found pieces on Etsy, at antique markets and in charity shops.
Has your collection inspired any other part of your life?
My collection inspires most things I do! My tattoos, my home décor, the way I dress, my hobbies, my drawing and crafting – it all comes from the things I collect! I just want to live in a pastel coloured, kitschy paradise surrounded by ceramic animals and vintage squeak toys.
What next for the collection? Is there anything you’re looking for specifically?
In January I made myself a treasure hunt for 2014 of things I specifically wanted to add to my collection over the course of the year – and I think I’ve nearly found everything already! Although something I haven’t ever seen and would love to find are vintage figurines of the centaurettes from Fantasia – I’m not even sure they exist but I will keep looking! Apart from this very specific addition I hope to find more Edward Mobley pieces, more vintage squeak toys, more Miss Priss, more kewpies, more cats, more deer – just more everything.
For me collecting isn’t just a hobby it is a way of life.
Your can follow Jess and her world of creepy cute here it’ll be sure to brighten up your day, I can guarantee it!