My family has an usual hobby of collecting body parts. Mum kept the extra teeth she had removed and in an ill-advised move, gave them to me as playthings (I was 5).
I thought they were really unusual shells, I would plant them in the garden like creamy skyscrapers. Their jagged tops mimicked the stereotypical scalloped edges of clouds and were a perfect match for meeting with the sky and solving the puzzle. They have been lost to the soil (not sands) of time, because they are resting in peace with my shell collection, buried below the camellia leaves. I think that my shell garden was trying to live up to Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary’s reputation.
Grandma kept her gallstones in a jar, with a dream of making them into earrings. She never had pierced ears, so it made sense that she saw the clip-on earring aesthetic in calculi. They seem more like carved wooden beads than something that could come out of the body, it’s like Jenny Holzer’s shock at the range of colours in her mother’s dying body.
I inherited Grandma’s gallstones a few years ago, as well as her glove collection, a hairbrush, nail kit, scarves and of course a huge sense of loss. I miss her a lot and I still surprise myself when I think of telling her something and then I remember. I had a wonderful conversation with Blaide today that I could make the gallstone earring project, and if I wore them then I could symbolically have my Grandma at my elopement (the “old” in something old, new, borrowed and blue).
I am harvesting and collecting quite different body parts of my own, but that’s a story for another day. In the meantime, ABC Open has an interesting project, “My Crazy Passion”. So far there are videos featuring people who collect/obsess about tractors, cacti and crochet. No body collectors yet.