simple stuff: clips & clamps.

April 5, 2017

simple stuff: clips and clamps | reading my tea leaves
Simple Stuff: A new series devoted to talking about the stuff that might prove useful or helpful or otherwise necessary while making a home in a small apartment or anywhere. Its aim is to provide a bit of inspiration for simplifying your space sustainably and stylishly. Its contention is that what’s useful can be beautiful, and that you might already have everything you need.

In small apartments or anywhere, tiny tools for wrangling can be awfully helpful. Whether it’s a clothespin clamping together a bag of half-gone dried pasta, or a bulldog clip used for hanging up a poster, clips and clamps of various kinds can be an organized person’s friend.

And yet, not all clips or clamps are created equal. Lots are, in a word, ugly. They find their way into our homes, bearing the names of dentists or relators or other well-meaning swag-loving folk. They break easily and they create tiny eyesores in the meantime. Or, for shame, they might not have made their way into your home at all. You might not have a handy clip to rely on for clamping shut the remaining flour that won’t fit into your flour jar, or to seal off the bag of coffee that a friend brought you from their trip to Costa Rica (nice friend!). When you want to hang a print without getting it framed, you might realize that a clip or two is what you need.

As always, there might well be a slew of these things already in operation around your house. Go find them. Gather what you have, sort through it, and put what you love to good use.simple stuff: clips and clamps | reading my tea leaves

What you might already have:

Clothespins: Whether or not you hang your clothes to dry on a line, you might have a few of these classic wooden and metal spring clothespins kicking around your house. Use them! Sure, for hanging clothes on a line to dry (lucky ducks), but also to build forts with your kiddos, close up the potato chip bag, clip the receipt to the pair of pants you’re returning, etc., etc. etc.

Stainless Steel Clothespins: Sturdier than their wood and spring cousins, I really love the set of three Pincinox clothespins I got a few years ago. I’ve used them for everything from holding together mail to pulling back curtains. (Mine were a gift from Flotsam & Fork.)simple stuff: clips and clamps | reading my tea leaves

Bulldog Clips: Humble bulldog clips, also known as binder clips, are available at most old-school stationary stores for mere cents per clip and they’re a personal favorite of mine. They’re dirt cheap, they never break, and they’re nice to look at.simple stuff: clips and clamps | reading my tea leaves
Even better, they’re equally terrific for clamping things shut or for hanging things up and they come in all kinds of helpful sizes, like the extra large three-inch clamp above. (We even have a few magnetic bulldog clips on our fridge for holding things like emergency numbers for the sitter or other things that are helpful to have out in the open.) 
simple stuff: clips and clamps | reading my tea leavesWhat you might decide you’d like:

Everyday Clips: These painted clips are made in Italy and pack an extra colorful punch around the house. I love the cheery yellow and the soft gray. 

Stainless Steel Clips: For a slightly more slender profile, these stainless steel clips could be used for anything from hanging laundry to displaying prints to clamping shut the bag of popcorn you somehow manage not to finish in one sitting.
simple stuff: clips and clamps | reading my tea leaves

Jaw Clips: Danish Company, Hay, makes some of the sturdiest (and prettiest) jaw clips out there and Schoolhouse Electric comes through on making them available for US customers. I have two of the similar, but somewhat-less-precious stainless steel jaw clips pictured above. 

Wire Binder Clips: For those of us who enjoy things that are truly dainty, wire binder clips with rose gold and bronze finishes might be the preferred look. I’ve seen these popping up everywhere lately from place settings, to restaurant menus, to clothing shops. I’m not sure how sturdy they are after prolonged use, but I do think a few in a row would make for a lovely wall display.

What you might hunt for:

Most fun of all is hunting for vintage binder clips. My years working in archives meant that I’d sometimes come across some real vintage beauties, but they’re also the kinds of things you might find by the fistful in antique stalls at flea markets. Keep your eyes peeled. (And if you’re not someone who enjoys the hunt, these black binder clips boast a pretty good vintage vibe and this Etsy shop has vintage clips in abundance.)

What about you guys? Favorite clips or clamps in your lives?

For the curious: The tacks used above are classic t-pins, the very prettiest kind of thumbtack out there. The “burn after reading” card is from the always funny, Hat+Wig+Glove Company.Various bits of ephemera, including those lounging Brooklyn ladies, from  the “family archive”. I found the very delicious granola and canvas napkin at local shop Regular Visitors. The windowpane and chambray napkins are from The Everyday Co. The navy plaid dishtowel is by Fog Linen. The coat rack is by Iris Hantverk

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  • Reply Nan April 5, 2017 at 10:08 am

    Love your series! Is this a new studio space? Congratulations!!!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 5, 2017 at 10:12 am

      Thank you!! Yes! Giving a new studio space a trial run! So far, so amazing!

  • Reply Kim April 5, 2017 at 10:30 am

    SO excited for this new series! What a perfect idea.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 5, 2017 at 10:32 am

      So glad!

  • Reply Sarah E April 5, 2017 at 10:32 am

    This week, I just used binder clips plus mini-s-rings (leftovers from dog accoutrements), along with extra ikea kitchen rail hooks to hang a curtain in front of the mirror wall directly across from our toilet. Since I was hanging it from just three cup hooks in the ceiling, buying a while pack of drapery hooks seemed excessive.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 5, 2017 at 10:32 am

      Go girl! Sounds perfect.

  • Reply Annie April 5, 2017 at 11:02 am

    Nice callout to a simple object, loved it!

  • Reply Christina April 5, 2017 at 11:25 am

    Hi Erin! Thanks for the reminder – have several mismatched (ugly) plastic clips that don’t last very long, and have been meaning to replace.

    May I make a suggestion? I used your Amazon links above, but perhaps in the future you could use the “” version. You basically take ANY Amazon link, add “smile.” before it, and a portion (albeit a small one), will go to the charity of your choice – there’s a range in there, including the ACLU, mine is for the ASPCA.

    Just a thought, since your voice goes out to many, and many don’t even know that this feature exists!

    Thanks for sharing, hope the family is well. Faye in particular always makes me smile 🙂

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 5, 2017 at 1:05 pm

      Hi Christina, yes, familiar with Amazon smile! For now, Amazon affiliates are one of the ways that I earn an income and keep this blog afloat without a paywall. I have an ambivalent relationship with Amazon myself and always hope that folks will support businesses in their communities, but for now I also rely on the small amount that I earn through affiliate income.

  • Reply Christina April 5, 2017 at 11:31 am

    I loved this post- such great clipping inspiration. I love stocking up on these steel clips at our local practical goods store, Yore in Colorado:

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 5, 2017 at 1:01 pm


  • Reply Kim April 5, 2017 at 11:51 am

    I’m just so amused by this. I think it’s that yellow Everyday clip. Need to find me one of those.

  • Reply Sasha April 5, 2017 at 11:55 am

    Finding joy in small things truly leads to more happiness! Those binder clips are just so handy for everything. And I love my bamboo clothes pins for hanging drying mittens, postcards, washed plastic bags, closing a chip bag, keeping a stack of odd papers tidy. I’d be lost without.

    Can’t wait for the next installment! Thank you!

  • Reply Lisa April 5, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    First time commenting, but long time reader here 🙂 Love this post, just curious what type of fabric is wrapped around the bulletin board? Would love to hear if you purchased or made the board yourself!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 5, 2017 at 1:00 pm

      Will look into the details! Made by a friend!

  • Reply Elizabeth April 5, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Ah, the Erin we know and love! Ive long wondered where you find your beloved bulldog clips 🙂 thank you!

  • Reply Rebecca April 5, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    When we moved into a house that had room for a clothesline, I treated myself to a set of these handmade clothespins. They are a joy to use, and are so much stronger than the imported variety.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 5, 2017 at 1:00 pm

      Awesome! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Camila April 5, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    Oh Erin! You always find the best stuff. Thanks for sharing ❤️

  • Reply Laura April 5, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    Love this series! Could you tell us more about the pretty bulletin board in your photos? Did you purchase it, or was it a DIY?

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 5, 2017 at 12:58 pm

      It’s a DIY in the new studio where I’m working! Will try to get more details!

      • Reply Melissa April 20, 2017 at 11:31 am

        Any word on the details?

  • Reply Mimi April 5, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    Hi Erin, practicing archivist over here and I can certainly relate to finding some vintage beauties in my work!
    I’m wondering if you might ever talk more about your career in archives and your transition out of doing that? I love your blog and book and have always been curious about what those decisions looked like for you. Thanks <3

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 5, 2017 at 2:11 pm

      Oh man! I think for me it was mostly accidental! I found that I really enjoyed writing my blog and *definitely* preferred working for myself and so it all kind of evolved over time! (Maybe less interesting from an object perspective, but my absolute favorite archive finds were straight pins stuck into pages instead of staples!)

  • Reply Žaneta April 5, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    I love clips thanks for inspiration. Also, it’s nice to see the Czech language on that flower postcard! It immediately caught my eyes so I thought it would be nice to leave a comment here for you just to let you know about your Czech reader 🙂

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 5, 2017 at 3:39 pm

      Found that beauty in Prague! Thanks for saying hi!

    • Reply Lenka April 5, 2017 at 4:57 pm

      Hi Erin, I was just about to write more or less the same note as Žaneta did:) That Květomluva/Flower-speech postcard was a nice surprise!

  • Reply Anna April 5, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    I love your random collection of clips to display pretty or meaningful things! I could imagine keeping an old fashioned clip or even clipboard in the kitchen to jot down grocery items I need to restock or by the door or my desk for mail…

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 5, 2017 at 4:04 pm

      Yes! Lovely!

  • Reply Kari April 5, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    This is my very favourite kind of post! Looking forward to the rest of the series.

  • Reply Arden Moore April 5, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    Oh wow this is so pretty <3

  • Reply Blue April 6, 2017 at 8:29 am

    Very cute stuff! I must admit those big t-pins just remind me of doing dissections in high school biology class. I’ve never seen them used anywhere else!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 6, 2017 at 11:11 am

      Ha! Funny!

  • Reply Mefi April 6, 2017 at 9:47 am

    You make clips look so beautifully sexy. I am sold. 🙂

  • Reply Mary Kate April 6, 2017 at 9:59 am

    I’m always turned off by giveaways (many of them by writers that I love) where you can win something cool and then some “swag”. Several times I’ve simply not entered (even though I would love the free book). I think, I don’t want bumper stickers and pins and plastic bracelets and whatever other crap you’re going to send me, but I know I’ll feel bad just tossing it in the trash, so I’ll end up just keeping it in a drawer somewhere to take up space. So then I just don’t enter. Does anyone really want that stuff? Why?!? Sorry for the slightly off-topic rant, but the word “swag” makes me want to run so far in the other direction!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 6, 2017 at 11:11 am

      Ha! I feel you. A double-edged sword those gifts 😉

  • Reply Antoinette April 6, 2017 at 10:01 pm

    Hey! Where did you get that peg rail from? Thanks!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 7, 2017 at 9:17 am

      It’s in the studio where I’m working. Linked in the post!

  • Reply Rachel Wilkerson April 8, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    I have the Kikkerland wire binder clips you linked to in gold and I get SO many compliments on them! Loving the brass jaw clips, BTW.

  • Reply Cussot April 9, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    Lee Valley Tools also sells attractive stainless steel clothespins: Lifetime Clothespins

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