My Top 3 Hobbies and why I love them (30 Days of blogging prompts 23)

According to Webster, a hobby is : a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.  So what are my pursuites outside of the regular day-to-day that I engage in as a form of relaxation?

1. Collecting postcards.  I have been collecting postcards since I was in my teens.  I had known of postcards since I was a young child, but I never really started collecting until I got a postcard from a friend in highschool who had moved to California in 1985.  Totally unconnected, I started with the International Young Service (IYS) which has now closed its doors.  The IYS was an international student penfriend service which matched young people from around the world for a minimal fee.  This was before the onslaught of the internet, when snailmail was the best way to reach someone overseas.

I signed up for some penfriends and my penfriends from Hong Kong (Clara Mok) and the Netherlands (Jolanda Spronck) sent me tons of postcards not only from their countries but from their travels in particular.

Over the years, my collection has grown and it even made it here to the US before I did.  A heavy shoebox full of them made it to New York after the traditional pamanhikan and I carried the rest when I moved here.  I collected postcards and swapped through organized groups after getting here, but after Angelo’s birth in 2004, my collection only grew when I purchased postcards during our travels.

I would buy postcards from places we visited, mail it back addressed to Angelo, chronicling our trip along the way.  I always travelled with address labels ready and stamps in hand.  That way, I only needed to look for a post office.  When the places we visited had an abundance of postcards, I would sometimes send back 20 postcards.  I regret that I didn’t do this for Manila until the last 3 or 4 of around 8 trips in the last 10 years.  But it’s something I do regularly now.  In fact that particular facet of my collection is over 200 postcards strong now.

I started collecting postcards because it gave me a window to worlds I thought I would never get to see.  So I collected from everywhere, hoping to have a taste of the different cultures.  When I started to grow my collection here in the US, I started focusing more on lighthouses and maps.  These two continue to be my primary collecting interests.  Then I started to find vintage Philippine and New York postcards.  Another additional item to collect.  And when I fell in love with Paris during my two trips there in 2005 and 2006, that became a collecting interest, too. 

2. Collecting Starbucks mugs.  This is a collecting interest that started when I moved here to New York in 2000.  My first Starbucks mug was a purchase on sale after Valentines 2001.  It wasn’t a city mug — but a valentine themed mug which I treasure to this day as the mug that started me collecting.

Starbucks Valentine ClearI haven’t purchased a mug in a while but I do get city and country mugs.  I’m covered as far as the Philippines is concerned except that I don’t have the latest Cebu (although my brother has already gotten one for me), and I think there is now a Tagaytay mug.  Friends who know I collect mugs have brought me some from the most unlikely places like Prague.  I’ve lost track of the collection because I have some that I have yet to wrap in plastic and put up on te space between the ceiling and my kitchen cupboard. 

To date, a conservative estimate of the collection puts it at 150.  Many of them are in the attic but that’s something I hope to take care of before the year ends.  I will re-wrap those that are still up on the kitchen space and then add everything.  I have a catalogue of some of the mugs on my flickr account.  I have had offers for some of the unique ones.  $200 for a holiday mug…!  Unfortunately I only had one of that mug, and even at that price, it wasn’t worth parting with.  It even made it all the more worth keeping.

I like collecting starbucks, not just any mug, because it has a certain quality to it — even if I’m not addicted to the coffee but I do like certain “flavors”.  (People who have shunned starbucks for the taste fail to see that they have different offerings.)  I don’t really want to get just any mug either because even the dollar store has hundreds to offer.  I’d run out of space and what would be the point in that?  Like my postcard collection, I enjoy seeing the collection grow, although I don’t go crazy buying from overseas just to add new ones.  Neither have I really traded mugs although that would be something I’d consider.  The cost is just too prohibitive, and I’ve had a special Osaka mug sent to me which arrived all broken up.  (My friend forgot that that priority mail box will be tossed around on its way here.) 

While not all my mugs are from my travels or the hubby’s trips, each mug has a “story” to tell, so they are always more than just mugs to me.

3. Jewelry making.  Some people will think that pulling pieces together is as easy as getting a string of gemstones or pearls and then working with them with wires or string.  My creative process is a little slower than that when I’m trying to figure out a piece.  Sometimes even when I’ve figured it out (like my promised necklace for Lou), it takes me time to call a piece good enough to send or sell.  Like most artists, I am my harshest critic.  “Good enough” is never good enough.  It should be better than that.

I find a certain fulfillment in completing a piece, wearing my own creations and when I get to sell one, there is a sense of reward not only monetarily, but compliment-wise.  I used to be shy telling people I made  a piece, but now I acknowledge the compliment with that admission coupled with some pride.  Not boasting, mind you, but when I’m walking outside and someone says something about the polymer clay necklace I’m wearing, I stop and smile and say thank you.

I like to be able to wear pieces I know I won’t spy elsewhere.  There are pieces I’ve seen sold by the department stores or my favorite clothing shops, but when I go to scrutinize them, I find the materials are all acrylic.  I like plastic when it is not pretending to be the real thing — like some acrylic beads I purchased dirt cheap at a clearance sale which makes no pretensions to being glass crystals or pearls.  But when I see a piece that shimmers but does not have sparkle of glass or crystal, I get turned off.  Maybe it’s just my crafter’s eye.  I hold the piece and jingle it in the palm of my hand and then I know if it’s glass or acrylic.

In a world where the way I dress is dictated by the business norm, my accessories are one thing where I can show some individuality without risking raising some eyebrows.  So I like wearing my polymer clay chain necklace which others have mistaken for a special kind of wooden carved chain.  (Mango wood?  No.. it’s polymer clay in copper).  My rose quartz cross pendant has received compliments but I am thinking the swarovski crystal version will do better.  (Although I haven’t worn the latter so I haven’t had the chance to “test” it.)

Work in progress: Cross pendant with Rose Quarz and Swarovski Crystals
Jewelry crafting is the hobby that affords me the chance to continue to learn new things.  It’s not just acquiring an object to call my own, but I like the way the hobby has pushed me to continue to research things and improve on my skills.  Sometimes I worry that my eyesight is going when I can no longer thread a needle as easily — but I charge that to age.  (Time to get the eyes measured and evaluated for glasses, I guess.)  Creating something from raw materials and seeing a finished piece and wearing that piece over and over again is reward enough.


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