Anatomy of an Organizer Commission; or, Why You Should Never Go Thrifting with Your Mind in the Gutter

So I have this commission.  It’s kind of the mother of all commissions, actually, or maybe the dirty Uncle with the weird checked pants.  A woman hired me to create a book organizer for her sister, who is a romance writer, and she asked that all of the book titles be racy.  “The filthier,” she assured me, “the better.”

Hot dog!

In case you’re unfamiliar with my book organizers, I remove the pages from vintage hardcover books, which can then be used to sort mail and papers, and I add a fun component for storing pens, scissors, paper clips, etc.  When finished, they look a little something like this:


Civil War Organizer - Feature Shot


Civil War Organizer - Books in Fore


For this commission, I was psyched to go shopping for books with unwittingly racy titles, which I figured would be sort of like having my own Beavis & Butthead show while I wandered through aisles of old books.  Huh-huh.  He said ‘The Merrie Olde Ass.’

As it turns out, it really has been like having Beavis & Butthead with me, and over the last six weeks, we three have hit several local establishments, searching for – and sometimes even finding – the perfect books.  My favorite moment of the whole process happened just last weekend, when I found  a book called We Came RejoicingHuh-huh.  He said “We.”

Once I had all of the books picked out – which took longer than I expected, I admit – I arrived at the one true puzzler.  What could I use for the storage component that would be practical but also filthy?  I figured I’d just shop my way to a solution, browsing flea markets until the perfect thing leaped out at me.

Except then it didn’t.  The tin with the suggestive name cost $65.  The provocative woman was made of glass, which I can’t drill.  I had just started to stress about it when my husband asked (in his calm and helpful way), “Can’t you just have a tall phallic object with two little round bowls or something at the base?”  Dang, that man is smart!  Why is he so smart all the time?!

So.  Dear Diary: Today, I went penis shopping.  Better still, I went to my very, very favorite place to go, the Midland Arts & Antiques Market, where I want to buy every third thing I see.  I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I had to keep repeating the word penis in my head while I was wandering around, just to keep myself focused.  Because otherwise . . . look at these little Foosball dudes!  OMGSOCUTE!

Foosball Dudes


Wait, no.  No, no.  Stop planning assemblage art pieces with Foosball dudes.  PENIS.  Phallus.  Little round bowls.  The filthier, the better.  Once I had my head in the game, things started leaping out at me, alright, and suddenly, I was having the weirdest, most hilariously disturbing shopping trip of all time.

First, there was the five-foot-tall canvas called Phalic Woman.  One L.  She basically looked like this, except taller and done in acrylics.

Phalic Woman


Sexy.  Then there was this (according to the tag) “Adorable French Country Print” featuring an illustration of a little girl face down in the mud with a bonnet, a shirt, and um . . . no pants.  And I have serious questions about the duck craning his neck in the direction of her bare bottom.  I don’t even think you had to be penis shopping to find that one bizarre, since later, I saw two men holding the same print in absolute horror.

Me: Is that not the weirdest thing?!

Man: It’s . . . I’m . . . I just . . .

Me: I wanted to take a picture with my phone, but I left it at home.

Man: I don’t think I want that on my phone!


I did finally hit the jackpot with a very tall, very phallic (with both Ls) rusty beer can and a pair of maracas, which leads me to this series of work-in-progress photos, taken mostly by my son.  Let me assure you, however, that he had NO idea what he was photographing, other than his mother doing what she usually does: Cutting up books and taking apart objects.  Also, there were no ducks anywhere.  I swear.





Cut Books


Maracas 1

Maracas - Pulling Top Plug


Loosening Handle

Handle Removed

Rocks Pouring Out

Handful of Rocks


The organizer is still in the very earliest stages of construction.   I’m probably going to alter the maracas before I start bolting things down.  Come on back next week for  the final reveal!






    the book titles are hilarious.

    I still think you need handcuffs. Maybe at the base of the maracas!

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