Question: What should I do with my vintage dishes?
I will post a more realistic, practical answer to this question shortly… but here is my dream answer:
A giant plexiglass box…
I have a lot of dreams and goals for this unusual (and often surprising, sometimes outright shocking) work that I do.
One of those goals is to someday have a “Museum” of household products that contain high amounts of Lead (and/or Mercury, Cadmium, Arsenic, etc.). This space would be a literal physical brick and mortar location where I can display all of the objects I have collected over the years that are high in hidden Lead and/or other neurotoxic heavy metals. Children and adults will be able to come to the museum and see many of the common examples that are sources of the – mostly normally invisible – unintended negative impacts of the industrial revolution on our indoor environment and our health and wellbeing – examples of recognizable, yet often highly-toxic everyday items found in our homes.
At this museum we will also offer XRF testing to the public (on a drop-in or send-in-your-package basis) and it will serve as #LeadSafeMama HQ of a sorts (for interviews, filming of related videos, classes on environmental toxicity and keeping a healthy home, and more!)
In the meantime….
Prior to finding a brick and mortar location for this museum (and prior to finding funding for the project), I do intend to continue the conversations I have been having for the past several years with representatives at art museums and science museums around the country about the creation and deployment of a traveling museum exhibit of a smaller selection of these pieces, that will travel from one museum to another, showing prime examples of vintage Americana — with each piece accompanied by a card listing the full XRF readings of that piece, and highlighting the levels of toxic heavy metals for each item. It will be an installation exhibit that is at once both science and art – a commentary on our culture and our history, as well as a bit of a retrospective on product design (from a toxicant standpoint.)
I expect this traveling exhibit will be ready for deployment sooner rather than later (refrain: “once my legal battles are over”), and will be accompanied by my book “I Make Women Cry & Throw Out Their Shit”* as a companion piece (as soon as the book is done!).
Back to the “Brick & Mortar Store”/Museum idea…. (a giant plexiglass box…!)
At the #LeadSafeMama HQ location I intend to have a GIANT Plexiglass (or similar clear material) box created. This box will be dust proof (so dust from inside cannot get out) and will likely be on wheels and a platform (so it can be more easily moved once it is full.) The box will have a hole in the top (or possibly on the side) – see image below!
Visitors who come to the space can bring their china to be tested. If it tests positive for Lead with the XRF instrument they may choose to donate one piece to the museum for display (if it is not a design we already have an example of). Then, if they like, we will then pay them $5 for each piece of their vintage china that they throw in the box and smash to bits (I will have a budget for this each year and get a sponsor to cover it, as I expect it will be a bit of an attraction!) So bring me your 20 piece vintage china set and you will be paid $100 to smash it to bits by throwing it in the box! Go to Good Will and spend $20 on a 20-piece set of vintage china and we will pay you $100 to destroy it! [One china-smashing visit per person! ;-)]
We will set it up so that if you want to violently throw and smash your dishes (for “fun” – to get out your anger — at the Lead industry perhaps? regulatory capture? or your mother-in-law, etc.?) that you can have them rapidly launched into the box, where any remaining shards will be pulverized! It will be a “piggy bank” of sorts, filled with broken leaded china – and will remain on display until it is completely filled up.
If this ends up happening, and we generate a box full of smashed vintage china, this box will then become it’s own installation art exhibit of course, but we will also look at ideas for what, if anything, “harmlessly constructive” could possibly be done with the material. I am not yet quite sure what the final disposition of the broken dishes will be – but collecting and breaking all of those dishes will serve both as a symbol of their toxicity AND will get them out of the chain of being a perpetual possible exposure source to humans (so people will no longer be eating food off them, and so they will not be tempted to hand them off to Goodwill or similar!)
The thinking is that this will also be such an unusual/”bizarre” idea that it may also generate some national and international news coverage for the concern.
All of this is just “ideas” at this moment, but I wanted to write it all down to share it with you (and also so I can reference it when the time comes! ;-))
If you have any resources that you think might be helpful in making any part of this dream a reality (the traveling museum exhibit, the brick and mortar museum / store space, the completion of my book*!) … please let me know.
Thank you for reading.
The stick figure is supposed to represent a full-sized human
to show you how big I want this box to be!