Freelance Book Designer

Curios to frighten

SNH and I are collectors. I wouldn’t go so far as call us hoarders as we don’t have stock piles of newspapers or junk, nor do we compulsively ferret away items. However we both have the hoarder gene, and with much careful management and years of barely contained self restraint we’ve been able to keep our hoarding to a ‘collector’ level.

Obviously our collections centre around 1950s & 60s pieces, such as homewares and clothing. Specifically spotted Diana pottery, Barsony ceramics, tiki mugs and statues, Tretchikoff paintings, bakelite, canisters, bark cloth fabric, cement pots, atomic print items and other every day household items. We do have a dedicated aesthetic, however it is not purely 50s and we don’t have a diner booth in our kitchen (heaven forbid!).

We love to collect other items that are strange, industrial or generally catch our bower bird eye. Our house is furnished with Fowler perserve jars used as vases for colourful knitting needles, vintage books are arranged in colour coded stacks on which items like tiny ban-saws or bakelite 1960s Australian state map stencils are displayed. Cast off sheets of template metal sit alongside a framed wedding photo. While our bookcase holds hidden treasures and curios among our hundreds of books. And this is just our living/dinning and studio rooms.

Hidden away in my dressing room lies a collection SNH originally refused to be shown in the rest of the house. A collection so spine-chilling that most people back away slowly as I cheerfully and show off my items. This pile of goodies is my Scary Toy collection.

Nicknamed Scary Toys by SNH and myself, I have also seen them referred to as squeaky toys (because of the squeak) these beloved creatures are 60s plastic toys, made from the same soft material as night lights, whose faces (and particularly eyes) have been painted on ever so slightly off-centre. Giving them a slightly deranged and homicidal look.

While some of the toys seem quite benign on mass they manically grin and give people the hebegeebees. Although several friends have given me gifts of Scary Toys over the years, which has made me incredibly happy. I even have a scary Santa, who looks as if he doesn’t care if you’ve been naughty or nice you’re going to get a knife in the eye either way. Sadly the dogs don’t like this Xmas decoration (much to SNH’s glee) and it hasn’t come out to play for a year or so (maybe baby’s first Xmas?).

Slowly but surely SNH has warmed to my fascination with these whimsical scary toys and they have been creeping out into the rest of the house. Firstly within my studio area, then among the books on the bookcase. Now I have chosen a few of the least scary (in fact they are not scary at all) toys to keep baby company in its room.

Here is a small selection of my Scary Toy collection.

While not scary toys, these are a few of the other objects scattered throughout our house.