Surrounding yourself with beauty

by Alison Rasmussen


My husband sent me a link to an interesting article on Boing Boing this morning, which discusses the art of living simply, balanced with green living, materialism and art.  It got me thinking about the relationship I have with clutter and my doll habit.
Twelve years ago, I could move all my personal belongings (minus a bed, futon and desk) in my Mazda RX7.  True, at the time, I was only 23 years old and a new college graduate.  I hadn't started crafting at that time--not scrapbooking, not quilting or sewing, and certainly not doll collecting.  I had books, papers, my Mac, my clothes and shoes.  I didn't hang onto possessions because I didn't particularly value who I was at that point in my life.  I didn't have much self-confidence or a sense of self-worth, which is not to say that the only reason we hang onto possessions is because we value ourselves.  I threw things away so I didn't have to remember the past.
If I compare that person to who I am today, the owner of many expensive, hard-to-find and beautiful dolls, whose sole purpose is to be beautiful and add pleasure to the beholder, I see a sharp contrast.  I still go through my clothes twice per year and get rid of everything that doesn't fit or that I don't wear.  I still try to live simply.  But I now have the confidence to believe that I can and ought to adorn my house--my life and my family's lives--with some beauty and art, just for the sake of beauty.  Seeing my dolls, rearranging them, redressing them or letting my daughters play with them, gives me a sense of freedom and pleasure.  My dolls add a dimension to my life that can't be counted as clutter or "stuff."  
Though my goals over the past years may have been to pare down--as our culture seems to advise--to cut the clutter, to live simply--I also want to pursue art for the sake of beauty.  And dolls--collecting these three dimensional sculptures--give me a small taste of this in my daily life.  I have three main collections: a historical line of dolls, fashion dolls with an avant-garde theme, and a fairy tale line of dolls.  I hope to pass the joy of art and daily appreciation of beauty along to my family, as well.