Sometimes it pays to be a packrat. It's my belief that most artists are so. We collect objects; things of color, texture, form, pattern; things that interest us. We're like that New Zealand Weka bird that lives in a burrow. The farmers there know if tools or any other shiny thing is missing, they search for one of the nests and start digging. "There's that spanner I've been looking for!"
Right now, I have a small box of hummingbird feathers on my kitchen counter. They are breathtakingly light and beautiful. A hummingbird collided with one of our windows and died. I picked him up and had a really good look at him. It's rare that you get this chance. I know right away he was dead and not just unconscious because his long, delicate, feathery tongue was sticking out of his beautiful black beak. His feathers were iridescent whispers.
I have compartmental boxes of shells from every beach I've been on. I've moved my favorite rocks around for years. I have a selection of fibers like raffia and cane, bamboo and branches. Beads I have collected and made myself as well as antique buttons are stored in tins.
I hoard colored cords and threads sorted into groups ready to be used as are colored pencils, water and acrylic paints and exotic paper. Surface clay pigment finishes and metal foils are in a filing cabinet in my studio along with drift wood, cane handles and corks large and small. Even odd and interesting bits of plastic designed to be thrown away I find interesting, ambiguously anonymous and possibly useful one day. "Would this look good on a ray gun?" A broken glass Christmas ornament worked really well on "Ecto Extracter".
In closets, in baskets and drawers, in boxes and bags; these things are "archived" and all over my house and studio. This is my lexicon - or maybe I should say adverbs? to art.