My Life in T-shirt Pictures

Some call it hoarding.  I call it collecting.  Perhaps it is in my DNA.  When my mother moved from her home a few years ago, she had boxes piled with every greeting card she had ever received.  You just never know when you are going to need a used “Get Well” note from 1976.

My husband is a minimalist.  If I leave a magazine on the counter for longer than ten seconds, I am likely to see him holding it over the garbage can, asking as an afterthought “Are you through with this?”  My love of colorful clutter and his need clean space do not always mix.

We compromise by melding collection with function.  My favorite version of this our living room wall decor.  My record collection is the one set I refuse to part with.  I framed nine album covers that told the story of our courtship, and hung them above the shelve that houses the albums.  Cheap, easy, cool artwork.  (If you are curious about the story in album covers, I’ve posted it at the end of the essay.)


One collection seemingly everybody has is a t-shirt collection.  The sentimental value attached to concert tees, race shirts and baby onesies makes them impossible to part with.

I am part of a craft group called the Phoenix United Crafters’ Society or PHUCS(although I must admit I have slipped off the radar.)  We set up a blog awhile back to post tutorials, but have not kept it up to date.  However, one of the members did post great instructions for turning concerts shirts into pillows.

Of course, I am a gung-ho, craft now measure later kind of gal.  When I began sewing my own pillow, I simply grabbed, cut, and stitched- which left me with some logos not exactly centered and pieces that didn’t precisely match up.  At the time, this annoyed the crap out of me (don’t you hate when you are foiled by your own unbridled enthusiasm?)  The pillow case became a scrap bag stuffed on the bottom shelf of my craft closet.

This week, I began putting together the decorations for Kellen’s third birthday party.  He wants a drum birthday.  I hounded the bakery staff at Safeway until they finally relented and gave me a dozens empty buckets to fashion into drums.

Then I attended the Spark Festival, and was overwhelmed with inspiration from the Made Garden.

I decided to make a few different vignettes for sound production, with one being a quiet spot to play and vocalize.  Yes, as much as I like to pretend that I don’t go over the top for birthdays, I might as well rent five bouncy houses and hire a monkey to serve the cake.

Part of the vocal vignette requires me to make strands that can be pulled.  I made the strands from yarn and scraps of fabric.  The scraps were of course pulled from the t-shirt scrap bag.

I looked at it with new eyes.  I didn’t see the haphazard centering or off kilter seams.  I remembered my sons wearing the “Happy Camper” shirt.  I remembered all the times I saw my brother’s band play, and how I got the last green Malakai tee.  I missed my friend Brenna who sent shirt with the image of a bird and cat listening to records.  I wanted to plunge my face into my favorite Itchy and Scratchy tee- seeing it felt like reliving a piece of my youth.


That’s why you make these types of projects.  That’s why my home looks like a thrift store instead of a polished, muted space.  Every object has a story, every knick knack a memory waiting to remind me of the best moments of my life and put a smile on my face.




Ok, I doubt this of interest to most people who don’t know me, but if you are a lover of vinyl, I think this is a really cool way to tell a story from your life- in this case, my courtship with my husband.

Starting on the upper left.  My husband started attending college on a tuba scholarship (who knew that was possible?)  He became an engineer and did most of the “right” things.  I spent those years partying, making art and music and being a general hippie, thus the Zappa record.  We came together and it was West Side Story- he would sing me “Maria” in a very off pitch but charming way.  The very middle record shows our opposite nature and how it attracted us- with two different but equally great types of “boots” on each side further reflecting this.  We are both lovers of sci-fi, and had an ongoing debate as to which was better, Star Trek or Star Wars. Princess Leia and Captain Kirk were the figures on top of our wedding cake.  We then honeymooned in Hawaii.  A year later we began our life in the strange new planet of Arizona.




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2 Responses to My Life in T-shirt Pictures

  1. Gus Sanchez says:

    I have way too many t-shirts myself, but some of these are cooler than the ones I own. Love the vinyl collection, too.

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