Collecting Advice

Options for Displaying Your Collection

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The dilemma every collector faces; how to display your collection and not look like a crazy hoarder. There are many ways you can proudly display your life’s passion and you do not have to stick with just one style. Depending on what you want to display you may have several equally stylish options. Check out some of the options listed here, mix and match techniques and styles to create a display as unique as your collection.

Create a Gallery Wall

Creating a gallery wall is a great option for quite a variety of collectibles, including many items you might not immediately think of hanging. Hanging a wall collection on your own can get messy fast. Here are a few tips to make things a bit easier. First, trace the shapes of your items onto old newspaper or scrap paper and cut out the shapes. Next, work out your arrangement on the floor so you get a good idea of placement and spacing. Now take that arrangement and move it to the wall by taping the paper templates in place. Make sure to step back from the wall to look at it from various angles. Once you have the arrangement set there are a few tools you can use to make the hanging process easier. There’s this Hang & Level tool to get the placement of your nails correct. For hanging plates, there is the Disc Plate Hanger which helps the plates to lay flat against the wall.

Some collectibles that look great hung on a wall include:

  • Silver/Tin Trays

  • Washboards

  • Plates

  • Framed souvenirs

  • Paint by Numbers

  • Album Covers

  • Rug Beaters

  • Pot Holders

  • Salt Boxes

  • Cake Molds

Put Small Items in Jars

If you have a collection (or several collections) of small items like marbles, seashells, or matchbooks than you might want to consider displaying those items in a vintage style apothecary jar. To get the most out of your display, fill the jar less than ¾  of the way, since much of the beauty is in the negative space, and arrange the largest or most interesting pieces on top. To keep your display clean you can occasionally blow away dust with a hair dryer set on cool.

Create Scenes Under a Cloche

An interesting and unique way to display a collection of figurines is by creating a diorama of grouped figurines under a glass dome or cloche. Set up multiple domed groupings of various sizes and themes to keep things visually interesting. If you own more tchotchkes than you can display, rotate your “stock” as your mood sees fit, storing the extras in divided ornament boxes. Keep the glass domes clean with a microfiber glass cloth; the interior contents will be well protected from dust.

Display Small Items in a Printers Tray

Another great way to show off small objects, such as dice, matchboxes, or miniatures, is with a divided case or printer’s tray. This display technique helps colorful or varied collections look more sophisticated and cohesive while retaining their playfulness. When setting up your display let the randomness and imperfection of the collection guide you. Mix and match sizes, try splitting up pairs, place items at odd angles, and leave some blank spots. Mount the tray on the wall at eye level—before you set it up—or set it on a mantel or in a display cabinet. To keep the display clean, occasionally spray it with a can of compressed air, standing about a foot away to make sure nothing shifts.

Displaying a Glass Collection

When displaying glass the use of light is critical. Glass reflects, refracts, and filters light as no other material does. When displaying multiple pieces of glass, it is necessary to consider how the group will look as a whole rather than a selection of unrelated individual pieces. Try arranging pieces by style or color while keeping in mind to vary the sizes and shapes. You can also consider integrating glass collections with other types of items, such as fine china, wood or beach glass to add texture and visual interest. Creating an attractive display is as much about what to exclude as it is about what to include. An overcrowded display will look cluttered and the glass will not display as well as it could. 

Tips for Displaying Pyrex

When displaying vintage Pyrex there are a few things to consider. First, you will want to stack them without scratching them. You can do this in a few ways but one way described on Arrow in the Eye says, if you are stacking bowls you can place disposable plastic “Takeaway” containers inside each bowl to get a nice rise and not scratch your bowls. For bowls with lids simply place the lid upside down and stack the next bowl on top. 

When choosing how to arrange your Pyrex collection you can sort by pattern, color, and or style. This is where your creativity comes into play. Do you want a display of just turquoise and white or all the colors of the rainbow? The beauty of Pyrex is that most of the colors and patterns are complementary so It’s actually quite difficult to create an unattractive display. 

Choosing the Right Display Case

Choosing the right display case for your collection is important to ensure all items remain safe, while also displaying each piece at its best. This journey should start by examining how much space your collectibles need. A curio cabinet, credenza or bookcase may be the best choice for large items. Oddly shaped items may require a stand or rack while small items that display well on a desk or table may simply need the assistance of a display box to keep them safe. Keep the size of your collection in mind when choosing a display system, large collections will need more room to contain all items unless you plan on storing and rotating pieces. If you are actively collecting items, additional space for future additions should be a consideration.

Display cases can help set the mood for your collection. Choosing a glass display case will allow the collectibles within to become the focal point. A large, solid piece of furniture will offer protection as well as personality to a collection. If you decide on displaying your collection with a piece of furniture be careful to pick a piece that compliments the style and type of item you collect. If you collect mid-century modern pottery the cabinet style should probably be from the same time period.

Less fragile collectibles may benefit from more creative display styles. Hanging repainted or distressed crates on the wall can create a shadow box effect perfect for more rustic collectibles, like coffee tins, alarm clocks, or watering cans. Vintage luggage is another creative way to repurpose materials while enhancing the look and feel of your collection. Let your creativity help determine which type of display case adds the right personal touch.