November 30, 2021
EP. 241 — How Sharp Is The History Of Scissors? with Teresa Collenette
This week’s episode is a cut above the rest, as we explore the history and cultural significance of scissors. Join Jonathan and design historian Teresa Collenette as they talk ancient spring scissors, Victorian-era chatelaines, Jonathan’s go-to hair shears, and Teresa’s incredible collection of more than 100 pairs of scissors.
Teresa Collenette is a design historian, curator and collector. Teresa has curated several exhibitions with the Fashion and Textile Museum, including The Secret Life of Scissors in 2018 and Beautiful People: The Boutique in 1960s Counterculture, which is up now!
You can follow her on Instagram @thehouseofscissors.
Want to learn more about scissors? Check out these resources:
Handmade scissors in Sheffield at Ernest Wright
Scissors being made at Ernest Wright
Scissors maker William Whiteley & Sons, Sheffield
The Secret Life of Scissors exhibition in The New York Times
Find out what today’s guest and former guests are up to by following us on Instagram and Twitter @CuriousWithJVN.
Transcripts for each episode are available at JonathanVanNess.com.
Check out Getting Curious merch at PodSwag.com.
Listen to more music from Quiñ by heading over to TheQuinCat.com.
Jonathan is on Instagram and Twitter @JVN and @Jonathan.Vanness on Facebook.
241 — How Sharp Is The History Of Scissors? with Teresa Collenette
Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness & Teresa Collenette
JVN [00:00:00] Welcome to Getting Curious. I’m Jonathan Van Ness and every week I sit down for a gorgeous conversation with a brilliant expert to learn all about something that makes me curious. On today’s episode, I’m joined by Teresa Collenette, where I ask her: How sharp is the history of scissors? Oh, my God, I’m so excited, I can’t stand it. Welcome to Getting Curious, this is Jonathan Van Ness and today we are learning everything about scissors. Welcome Teresa Collenette, who is a design historian specializing in the history of scissors. She is a graduate of the Royal College of Art Victoria and Albert Museum History of Design Master’s Program. She has worked on various fashion and textile museum exhibitions, including the 2018 show The Secret Life of Scissors. Theresa, welcome.
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:00:45] Thank you. I’m so happy to be here. I mean, it’s so exciting, and I’m talking to a hairdresser, somebody who uses scissors professionally.
JVN [00:00:52] I’ve been using so many scissors in my professional life, which, you know, we call shears. And I was, like, “I need to know more about these.” And also to everyone. You just have to know if you haven’t seen on social, Teresa has a very modern shag. I love it so much. And also there’s art behind you in your house or your office is gorgeous. I just have to say so when, and this is a personal question before we even get into the history of scissors. When did you realize that you are obsessed with scissors and that you wanted to become a literal scissor historian?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:01:27] Well, it snuck up on me a little bit. It’s, like, I didn’t go looking for scissors. It’s like they came looking for me. Because when I started my Masters course, I was really interested in doing something about textiles because I’d worked previously. I’ve been working, like, retail. I worked for Liberty of London, you know, really famous for textiles. I love prints. I love color, etc., fashion. And then when I started my course, we were asked to write or look around the museum and find our favorite objects and write about it. So off I go down to-, I had an idea I wanted to look at this 18th-century, century fabric designer called Anna Maria Garthwaite, who made these beautiful floral prints out of silk. Absolutely stunning.
This is when everything changed. So I saw this little picture, not that big, made of cut paperwork, which turns out was a big hobby in the 18th century. So it was this beautiful picture. It was almost moving. It was a picture of a country house with a garden and an orchard. There’s this big house. There was a carriage going along in front of the house. And people working the garden. There were some dogs running around and it was all made out of paper. So next thing, I have to find out how they do this. So luckily, in the V&A, they have a wonderful library. So I go into the library, onto the catalog, look up “cut paperwork” and Anna Maria Garthwaite in this picture. And also in that search, I had the opportunity to look at the scissors they used to do this hobby, which were absolutely tiny, like the size of a key. So, I pick up the scissors and I’m thinking, “Gosh, these are tiny, how do they work?” And it suddenly comes to me. It’s so obvious. Scissors obviously act as an extension of your hand, and in many cases they give you more options to give you a larger movement.
But in this case, these scissors restricted you. So you were only able to do these tiny, delicate little cuts, right, so that you can make these very fragile pictures. And the picture was alive, the paper, the same delicate, it was floating. So the bits, the shapes she’s cut out, these tiny scissors were floating on this parchment backgrounds, and it was almost like an animated film. The trees almost seemed to move. So that, the bug took me then and it was, like, “Look at more scissors.” This is really interesting. And then I think scissors is like a rabbit hole, once you start actually seeing them for what they are. You just want to know more. Because normally in life, I know my household, at least, with, like, four kids and husband, whatever everybody, everybody’s saying, like, you know, “Where are the scissors?”
And usually it’s that, where, where are the scissors? And they seem to be hiding. They’re usually in a drawer, you have to go through lots of rubbish, and then eventually these scissors appear. So it was this interesting idea of scissors, the idea that they’re dormant and then they come alive when they’re in the hand of the user. And this idea of how closely connected, the intimate bond with a human being. So you know that, Jonathan, with cutting hair as soon as you’ve got your scissors, you know you’re able to do all these wonderful things to be really creative. And that’s the power the scissors give you. And also, it’s, like, democratic. Anybody can use them I mean, that gives everybody a power, you know, if they want to use it to do so many different creative things.
JVN [00:04:52] Ah! And also, I just realized, Theresa, that I think that’s why I wondered about the history of them, because my husband and I could never find our scissors! Like, in the kitchen. And we had all these scissors and then, like, every time I looked down there, like, it’s usually my fault because I’d take them to the garden. Instead of using that fierce, like, pruner, like, cut the vegetables off. I would, like, just get impatient and not want to go to the garage. So I would usually just go get scissors, so it’s usually my fault. But whatever. Sidebar. So, OK, can you, like, define a scissor for us?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:05:23] OK, so taking it back to basics, and actually, I’ve got a pair of scissors here, so I can, if you can see those, I can explain exactly what they are. I mean, obviously, they are a cutting tool. They have two arms, which are these, which ends in blades. They have finger holes so that you can manipulate them as it were. And what’s crazy about them? It’s a science. The system, if you really want to get scientific, that they operate like a lever in the fulcrum, this is where it all goes a bit technological. And this point where the two arms of the scissors joined together. So like the cross-blade here, that point there is the pivot point, that’s, like, the fulcrum. And then you operate the levers with your hands. So you’re operating this technology without even knowing it because you’re just using the scissors because they, you know, they make you do it. Your hands are in the right place. They help you to make that movement. So a crazy technology. And I love the fact that, you know, throughout history, with all the improvements in technology, nobody’s ever thought of better idea for a pair of scissors. Let’s be honest and like, you know, famous people like David Hockney, the artist famously said, “You know, with all the high tech going on, sometimes you just need a pair of scissors.” You can do pretty much anything.
JVN [00:06:45] Haven’t they gotten, like, a little fiercer? Or are they still literally the same?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:06:49] So going back from these cross-bladed babies here, more originally, some that were made earlier there is, there’s this sort. They’re, like, the original, they’re called spring scissors or also called shears. But shears, you’re right, can also refer to this scissor when they’re big and have long blades. These are spring scissors, and they operate in a slightly different way. So the pivot point, if you like, is actually at the end. So they operate in there. That’s the fulcrum, and then these are the levers. But I mean, back in the day, going back to you were asking, you think about hairdressing and, you know, Egyptians, Romans, they would have actually been cutting your hair with these.
JVN [00:07:33] Really?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:07:35] Yeah. Can you imagine? There were probably some pretty bad haircuts, I don’t know.
JVN [00:07:39] Because I guess you don’t have videos. Could you have just held it like this, though?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:07:43] You could have done that. Like, with a knife. I think, originally, they probably had to, if they were going to cut their hair, it would be with a knife, and then you would graduate to this. I mean, obviously these were used for shearing sheep and things, you know, and obviously you can get smaller ones, maybe a hairdresser would have had slightly smaller ones, because they do look, you know, fairly, you know, scary coming towards your head, I would’ve thought.
JVN [00:08:06] Yeah. So, wait, do we know when, like, the first scissors? Like, when’s our first evidence of scissors?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:08:11] Okay, okay. So now this is the thing about scissors is everything about them is ambiguous, there’s a mystery about them. They’re mysterious objects, which I love. And the same could be said about how they came to be. Now there’s a urban myth for some reason, and I heard it literally the other day when I was listening to the radio doing something when they said, “Oh, Leonardo da Vinci, he invented scissors.” And give the guy a break. He did do a lot of cool stuff, but he didn’t invent scissors, OK? And you know, it’s easy to know that because you can see the museum, they were scissors before then. So there’s a lot of, you know, you look on the internet, you look at stuff and there’s also some dates flying around, but definitely in ancient Egypt, they did have scissors. So we know for sure, for sure, for sure, because 1000 BC, for sure, there were scissors, but they would have been these ones. OK, the cross-bladed ones like this were more, I think, safely we can say in Roman times, first century AD, it was the Romans who really had the idea of putting that screw in the middle.
The other definite bit of proof of a date that we can totally rely on is third century. We know that there was scissors found in Switzerland, on an archeological site. We know that because a very famous Egyptologist called Flinders Petrie, he was famous for his cataloging and his accuracy. He found them and he logged them. So we know that date is true. But I think it’s interesting. So I was looking on the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, looking at their scissors. And they had a really lovely pair. Again, they were like the spring scissors, like, these ones decorated with Egyptian things, and actually really cool because on the blaze, they have a cat one size and a dog the other. And when you do that, the cat and dog sort of kiss. So it’s cute like that.
JVN [00:10:05] Ah! That’s so cool!
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:10:09] I know, how cool is that?
JVN [00:10:09] We’re obsessed. And not to get off track, but can I just say, and I don’t want to make any of our other guests that I’ve ever had jelly? I don’t know if I’ve ever had so much fun in the first, like, 12 minutes of an episode of Getting Curious ever. This is so much fun.
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:10:25] Scissors are so much fun! And what I actually love it, like, people know me and they say this, “Oh is this a bit of humor? This is quite dry.” But when people start listening to stuff about scissors, it is interesting because we all know scissors. We all use scissors. We’re not talking about something that we don’t really know about when we haven’t had any experience of. When I had my little show about scissors in the museum. I think it’s like a cabinet of curiosity, just a whole lot of stuff in cases. And it fascinated me how people walking around. They were just talking to each other. It , you know, there were memories of scissors, people giving them scissors. Everybody has all those interesting little stories because it’s so familiar to us. And I think that’s quite fascinating.
JVN [00:11:13] OK, so just to recap: in the Egyptian times, which was like, you know, Before Common Era, we’re talking, like, before zero. So that’s, like, three thousand years of scissors, it’s so fierce I can’t stand it. But you had mentioned, you said Leonardo da Vinci, right? You’re like, “Leave the poor guy alone. He’s done a lot of stuff,” you did. He, like, did he have any part in popularizing them or like, who like, was there someone who is really like, like the Beyoncé of scissors? Did someone, like, really popularized them?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:11:43] Oh my god. No. I’m trying to-, not going back that far, I’m going to get like a more recent time when people are, like, for example, I mean, this is much more recent, but you know, Vidal Sassoon is obviously famous because he was a great hairdresser. So you think of him with his scissors immediately. But going back, I can’t think there was, like, one particular person, I think because they were used by people in all sorts of different levels. So no, not going back that far. But there are various characters that become sort of known for their scissors. And I have another one, actually. OK, let me show you this guy, because I’ve got interesting pictures. This is going forward a bit. So this can you see that?
JVN [00:12:22] Yes. Will you describe it to our listeners? What are we looking at right now?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:12:26] Okay. So this is a portrait that’s made into an icon of style by the artist. Actually, she’s American Christina Miller, and it’s an image of a guy called Pierre Toussaint right now. He was originally a slave from Haiti, and he came to New York because his owners brought him to New York. And once he was in New York, he took up the trades of hairdressing, cutting hair. And because his, I mean, this is so all his owner’s husband died, and he had to keep the widow, like, make money to help her out as well. So he became a hairdresser, became really well known. He was, like, he was a celebrity. So this is in 18 something he was born in about 1786, or something. Anyway, he became really famous. Lots of rich people made lots of money. And then he was a great guy. He also helps lots of people. He helped with orphanages. He helps sick people. Was a time of cholera, and he went across the barriers to help people out.
Now this guy is currently on the way to becoming a saint, because he did so many good works, right? He was just a good guy, and he educated immigrants. He did, just, reached out to everybody and eventually the, his owner, the one remaining the lady. She died. So he was a free guy, but she actually gave him his freedom before she died. The dedicated his life to good works. He got married and did all sorts of things. So in 1996, someone say Pope John Paul, the second started the process you need to make somebody a saint, and his body actually was exhumed. He’s buried in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He’s the only layman, non-religious person to be buried there because he also, before the current St. Patrick’s Cathedral, there was another one on a different site, and he raised a lot of money for that. So he devoted his life to good works. But here, you see, it’s just him holding his scissors and they’re open in a cross-like shape, so they symbolized a across. So he was definitely a celebrity back in the day, and an early celebrity known for his scissors.
JVN [00:14:46] So those spring scissors, those are made of, like, stone? Metal? Like, how have the materials evolved, of scissors?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:14:57] Okay. So because I mean, the long and the short of it is scissors evolved, man, you know, from the cave, onwards. Either way, something, “Oh, I need to cut something.” In the Stone Age, they’d use a piece of stone, you know, to cut a piece of, try to get a bit of meat. They’re starving, desperate to get some meat, they’re using a stone. And then, of course, they have Bronze Age, Iron Age. So people start using. They realized quickly enough metal is going to work. So they use various metals. I mean, these ones, I think are just iron ones, and so they’re quite rusty. But of course, as time goes on, the world of metals evolves, and you get all sorts of different things. So steel, you get cast steel, you know, different kinds of steel. Eventually, you know, you end up with carbon steel, which nowadays is used for scissors.
So, like, the steel gets better and better because of various processes. For example, in Britain, you know, we had the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries. So where, you know, steam power, all these bad things now, you know, with pollution and thinking of COP26 and all that we’re worried about with the climate, that’s what it started with, Industrial Revolution. But people have got better and better at producing different metals. So these ones here, I’ve got these, these are really new ones. So they’re made out of really-high grade steel. And then they plated in gold plating or something to make them more attractive. But yeah, definitely with and you see that with hairdressing. It is particularly, like, in the olden days, the first hairdressing scissors aren’t that sort of amazing, but as you know, now, you know, Japan, lots of countries, Germany, made this really amazing carbon steel that just yesterday, they’re really precious.
JVN [00:16:42] Yes, I had those! Yes, because I’m so picky about my shears. Like, I have texture shears, thinning shears, sliding shears. It’s, like, shears for every different thing, and they all have, like, slightly different, like, tips or slightly different, like, gradient and things or, like, one of this side will be, like, teeth, like, these, like, these, like, little teeth and, like, different shaped teeth, it creates a different texture. Obsessed. And I, I guess, you know, they always say, like, don’t say hate but I hate using shears that aren’t my shears, because they feel different in your hands and they’re just, like, different. And they don’t make the same effect that, like, you’re used to because they really are like an extension of your hand and, like, your brain, you get used to using them. So when was the first time, and where if you can tell us, when do they, like, first get, like, mass produced, like? And was that, like, before there was factories? Like, did we, like, who was the first Kleenex of scissors?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:17:39] OK, so sort of mass production, you have to start looking at the mid-19th century. And this again, is, of course, as I was saying, like the modes of making steel to improve, there are different ways of doing it and with the invention of cast steel. So I see a big moment is said, well, this is an English history, almost. And I think 1761, in Sheffield, which is a place that’s very famous for making scissors. A guy called Robert Hinchliffe, he invented cast steel, if you like. And this meant it was much quicker to make scissors. You could make more of them. You can make them quickly and rather than hand-forging. Because originally it was, you know, take a lump of metal, start chipping away to create this, this shape. So but even so nowadays, that’s the other one of the many interesting things about scissors. The amount of stages in the production that they’re about over a hundred different steps in making scissors. I mean, it’s mind blowing, even with modern technology.
JVN [00:18:44] Is that just because it’s, like, they have to be, like, slanted at just the right angle and like, put together on that little, like, fulcrum word or whatever you said. Otherwise they won’t work?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:18:52] Exactly. And also the best scissors, I mean, to be really, really good scissors, they need to be hand-finished. At the end, you need somebody intervening. And if you’ve ever watched, I was watching a video about the making of JAGUAR scissors, which are a German company, and it was all, like very mechanized and even robots. But when it came to the end, you saw a human had to get involved because it all comes down to the feel of the blades. You know how they look. And exactly, like you say, the most important aspects of creating a good pair of scissors is there has to be a tension between the blades. You know, the blades have to be slightly twisted to face inwards. And so you’re going it’s easier when you show you, when I show you. So with that pivot point there, but they’re meeting, then there’s a slight gap and they twisted inwards and then they have to join together perfectly at the end to be able to cut, so it’s quite a complicated process.
JVN [00:19:53] For hairdressers, we know that we need our shears sharpened when it starts to, like, push the hair, like, when it doesn’t do like a nice, crisp, like, the hair will, like, push out of the base of the scissor. Or the other thing that’ll happen is that it’ll, like, bend the hair instead of cutting the hair, like, bends it and they’re like, “Oh, honey, these shears are, like, past dull. Like, I needed to get them sharpened, like, a month ago.” So I guess I’ve never really experienced that with like home scissors, though like scissors that I would like cut, like, you know, a piece of paper with or like nails. I’ve never really had those get dull at home. Is that because I don’t use them very much or something?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:20:29] Maybe, I don’t know. But I mean, there’s definitely, and a dressmaker will tell you, dressmakers get really annoyed if you pick up, you know, a pair of scissors to cut paper and use dressmaking ones, that will ruin a pair of dressmaking scissors.
JVN [00:20:41] If you use my hair cutting shears to cut paper. That makes sense. That was rude of me to not understand that sooner.
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:20:49] So I think whatever you’re using them for. I mean, the truth is, a pair of general household scissors, you know, they don’t tend to work that well for long. You know, you find yourself cutting a piece of Sellotape, and it’s not quite working. They seem to have a shorter life, probably because you’re doing lots of different things. So I think the moral of the story is you need, you know, a pair for cutting paper, a pair for cutting fabric, you know, that’s the best way forward. And the other thing is, you know, it’s much better to buy one pair of really good scissors than buy lots of cheap, mass-produced ones. At the end of the day, they’ll last longer. They’ll do a better job. So like everything, you get what you pay for, I guess.
JVN [00:21:30] So because scissors that we know for sure have at least a three thousand year old history, it’s, like, a long, long, long time. When did they become, like, household essentials for, like, everyone? Or were they always because even, like, all the fierce cave people were, like, “Give me a pair of scissors, because then I can get my, like, meat easier or something.”
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:21:51] OK, so interestingly, even once the cross-blade ones have been created, people tend to use, so if we’re talking about like medieval times, so, like, I don’t know, like, 10th century or whatever people carried on using these because they were easier to manufacture it, it’s really quick. They were cheaper and then they just discarded them. Now, but then when you get to the 19th century again, it’s to do with the mass consumption, mass production. I think households had more scissors. Scissors became more of a thing, and you start getting all these very specific scissors for different jobs. This is when it really took off. So, for example, I’ve got a few here, probably.
JVN [00:22:35] God, your haircut’s good!
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:22:37] Thank you, thank you! Coming from you, I really take that as a compliment. So, for example, these are 19th century. Those are actually garden, flower cutting ones.
JVN [00:22:48] They’re very ornate, so that you guys can imagine.
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:22:53] Yeah, they’re very ornate. And this is what it’s all about. If you were 19th century, they’re appealing at this point, say, in Victorian times in England. They’re appealing to the woman of the house, if you like. They’re becoming quite gendered object in the way, like, men’s scissors. Often they think, like, tailors’ scissors are very sort of plain, but then household scissors, things like these ones or things that are going to be on show are much more intricate. So these ones, those are for cutting a candle. So back in the day, in Victorian times and you wanted to cut the wick of the candle, you’d use those. And they have little feet so they can stand on the table. So you want people to know. It shows how rich you are because you’ve got a pair of those and you’ve also got a pair. So she’s these, like, okay, so I’ve got the flowery scissors. So those were these are ones, you can see the flower on them. So they’re quite ornate.
JVN [00:23:48] Oh, why are the blades so thick?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:23:53] Well, I guess if you’re trying to cut a stem of something. [CROSSTALK] It’s stronger, isn’t it. It’s stronger, stronger levers? I think.
JVN [00:24:00] Wow, ok, those are so cool.
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:24:02] Okay, actually, we’re going back a bit now, because I suddenly remember these, but this was also the 19th century. Now this is something a lady of the house. It became a real fashion. Okay, so these little scissors with silver handles, dunno if you can see.
JVN [00:24:18] It’s like the thing that we use for iPhones.
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:24:21] Yeah, it’s like you’ve put it on your belt so you could clasp. But women could also add different things. So, say they’re carrying a handbag around. You put all, you know, put it, put your lipstick on, you put everything on here. But people got so carried away. They used to be, there used to be funny cartoons in old magazines about, you know, how many things women carry it on her on her chatelain. So the word “chatelain” originally is a French word, and it means the mistress of the castle, the mistress of the House. So yeah, so that was a big fashion and very visible and also a scissors often have a real sort of symbolism about them and sort of wearing a chatelain, this is like the shape of your belt.
It was highlighting a woman, how industrious she was, she knew how to keep the house, she could mend the clothes, you know, all these good qualities. And quite often, women would pose for portrait, and they would have that highly visible because it’s showing that, you know, they’re a good wife, could be a woman around the house. So very symbolic. And then there was this a weird one, actually. They were always thinking up new types of scissors. Say what I’m saying. Can you see that? So it’s like a bird? Yes. And, his eye, I love this is the pivot points. That’s the now. So this one, do you think this was for? Do you want to guess? That’s a chicken. For people who can’t see, it’s a chicken, and his eyes are at the central point.
JVN [00:25:49] Is it for cutting a chicken neck or something?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:25:52] No, it’s for slicing your boiled egg in the morning. Maybe the maid would bring it out to you.
JVN [00:25:58] Wow, I went to such a dark spot. Yeah, I was, like, “Is it to cut the chicken’s head off?”
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:26:05] No, there’s nothing, we’re not going to talk about ugly things here. No. So I know this was, the maid would probably put that on the table for you with your morning breakfast. So it’s a bit of a funny thing. They also made, I mean, strictly speaking, would you call that a scissor? I guess it is, because it does slice something off. You could get interesting decorated scissors for cutting the top of a cigar, for example. So lots of different purposes. Oh, I’ve got another candle one. Now, interestingly, though, I like the pretty shiny ones. There’s something really gorgeous about, I find, about the really plain ones. I mean, this is probably hand-made, hand-forged. It’s very rough, but I like it. There’s something very tactile about it. I don’t know.
JVN [00:26:49] Oh it’s so cool. So they became, they became more of a household essential, like, as the mass production thing was going on. So, like, 1800s, is that fair to say?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:27:02] So yes, it was just starting from sort of early sort of 1800s to so there’s the mid-, during the mid-19th century to 1850, and many cities were very there were loads of different types up until sort of, you know, the early 20th century and there was a lot of decoration going on. Then they became a bit plainer. But the decorations, though they were being, sort of mass produced, they weren’t totally finished. There is still room for some hand embellishment, so there was half and half. So you still got the hand decoration going on. Going back a bit, I’ve just suddenly remembered all these things coming to your head. So back in the 1600s, for example, and 1700s, there was a lot of decoration scissors, but it was all done by hand with files very, very close. And even like Marie Antoinette was, remember her, in France, she before the guillotine. She loved scissors, and she was very proud of a pair of English scissors she had from Sheffield, out of beautiful steel and beautifully decorated.
And you get a lot of really crazy decorations with scissors, made in the form of a harlequin, juggling, and it became almost like a competition to see what you can produce. And in 1851, in England, there was this big huge exhibition, The Great Exhibition of 1851, and it became a showcase for the British industry and all these scissor makers, especially in Sheffield and other places, they produced these wonderful cities with most intricate designs. And they created scissors, especially for Queen Victoria that took a sort of six weeks to make, you know, and had to be used about 170 different files to create the pattern. So it became a bit of a showcase. And if you ever get to go to Sheffield, which is the home of scissors in England, very much so, there’s a wonderful museum of like, an industrial museum, but it has a lot of ceremonial scissors and just crazy designs, so well worth the look.
JVN [00:29:07] OK, that sounds amazing. So then I think about, like, Edward Scissorhands and, like, you know, like, you know, the barber that kills people with scissors. Like, when was the first time in history that, like, scissors, like, got associated with, like, “I’ll and stab you right in your neck!” and more, like, murder or, like, horror stuff?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:29:26] Well, you know, I think, you know, for the minute they’re around how convenient everybody had probably had a pair around the house. I’m sure a lot of murders were going on. But in my research, which was when I was writing my dissertation, I was more 19th century. But looking through old newspapers like in Sheffield, there were quite a few murders where people on the scissor trades or whatever, they would sort of, you know, stab somebody because they had a pair of scissors. Obviously very conveniently, but there’s a famous character in Sheffield, and he was 19th century, called Joseph Myers, and there’s even a ballad about him, The Ballad of Joseph Myers, and it’s sort of, you know: “Take pity on me. This terrible thing happened, and I’m so sorry.” So, it was a big court case at the time.
Huge in all the papers. It was on the front page for newspaper, and sadly, this guy was a bit of a drunk. But when he was drunk, he was a really nasty drunk, and he’d already attacked his wife a couple of times, but she hadn’t pursued it. I mean, it’s a really sad story, so it’s really about bad domestic violence. And then eventually, in a drunken a state, he does stab his wife using a pair of scissors. And part of the proof for the case was one of the maids has seen him that morning using a pair of scissors to get a nail out of his boot, and he’d been messing around with the scissors and when they may be preparing them for his future crime. But anyway, that’s a pretty bad story.
JVN [00:30:48] And so did they convict him. And did he go to jail?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:30:50] Oh, yeah, no. He was gallows, you know? Boom. Yeah, done for. It’s a very sad tale.
JVN [00:30:56] Is it fair to say that scissors are associated with horror or is that not fair to say?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:31:03] Well, I think it’s I think it’s fair to say, as I was saying, everything about scissors is ambiguous and double edged. You know, scissors, well, they have two edges. They’re creative, but they are also destructive. I mean, they have the other side to them, you’re cutting, you’re severing things. So somebody who wrote a book about sewing equipment, I can’t remember her name, Sylvia Graves, I’m going to say, she called scissors “the villain of the work basket” because they sever things, you know, so they have that edge. And if you have a look, say up at the top of my house, I have, like, lots of big scissors hanging on the wall. And if I go up there, it like in the dark night time they throw these amazing shadows. So this is just scary. So is that feeling if they have that dark side.
And then, you know, going back to classical times of Roman and Greek times and you think of the three old fates. So these were women. They were like old hags. And one of them had her spinning, though, you know, one of them was cutting the thread of life. So that’s Atropos. She cuts the threads of life. So one woman is spinning the threads of life. Another one was measuring it. And Atropos, the third one, so daughters of Zeus, the god, they would cut the threads of life. So when they decide to do that, you know, your life is over. So they have that sort of extra again, sort of layer of mythical. They seem to struggle the real, the mythical world, as it were. And, you know, also in folklore, you know, witches and things, you know, scissors are anti- magic and witches.
JVN [00:32:37] Oh, they are?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:32:38] Oh yeah. If you have a pair of scissors outside the front door, you know, a witch wouldn’t dare come in. If you sort of hide them behind the cushion, you know, she’ll feel very uncomfortable and leave straightway. You know, it wards off evil.
JVN [00:32:49] I didn’t know that.
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:32:51] Oh, there’s loads, and also actually, if anybody ever gives you a pair of scissors, now pay attention here. You mustn’t just accept them. You have to give them a small coin back. In England, you may give a penny, because if you don’t, that will cut your friendships, sever your friendship. So there’s an awful lot of mystery and magic about scissors.
JVN [00:33:16] What other kind of, like, folklore fairy tales are, like, around scissors?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:33:22] OK, well, I mean, some of these are obvious, but if you look at Grimm’s fairy tales, so they were written in the 19th century, but they were based on stories that go back centuries and centuries. So people, you know, if you didn’t have the internet, they didn’t have TV, they sat around, you know, talking, you know, telling these tales, you know, by candlelight. And a lot of these tales go back centuries. A lot of them are based around sewing, because often, it’s women telling the story. So it’s about their daily chores, so it’s a lot about sewing, and scissors, obviously come in, come into it. So, for example, Little Red Riding Hood, which is quite a common story, right? And that goes back centuries before that to France, to a guy called Charles Perrault who wrote the original tale.
And it’s about the wolf is a seducer in the court and Little Red Riding Hood is this innocent girl. Then there are other versions where Little Red Riding Hood, she’s a seamstress, okay? And she’s going through the forest, and she has to choose. Will she follow the path of pins or the path of needles? But anyway, in Grimm’s tale, in that version, when she’s being gobbled up by the wolf, you know who she thinks is her grandmother. The Huntsman comes to her rescue. Now the Huntsman, interestingly enough, he has a musket, a gun, and a pair of scissors. And instead of shooting the wolf, he cuts open the stomach of the wolf, and Little Red Riding Hood can then get out to the wolf.
So that’s quite interesting, because again, you know, the gun seems like the real sort of masculine thing. The scissors seem the more feminine thing he has about his person, but it’s the scissors he uses. So in some theories, there’s a lot of theory behind all this, that maybe it’s like a birthing process, like, Little Red Riding Hood. She stopped being a little girl. She’s becoming a woman. There’s all these layers of meaning you can attach. I know. But then thinking again, what we’re saying about murder. So, you know, Hitchcock famously said, you know, “Having a murder without a pair of gleaming scissors is like asparagus with a hollandaise sauce,” like, he says the best way to kill somebody is with a pair of scissors. And I don’t know, have you ever seen Dial M for Murder? That is the best scene ever with scissors. It’s amazing.
JVN [00:35:43] No!
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:35:44] OK, so, this is in 1954, Grace Kelly, beautiful, ice blond. She’s at home and this guy gets into the house and meanwhile, on the phone and it’s her boyfriend and whatever, played by, I think, Ray Milland, and he’s saying, “Hello, hello.” And she’s not saying anything, and this guy goes to attack her and she reaches behind him to a desk, gets this pair of scissors and just sticks it in his back. So, and he falls to the floor.
JVN [00:36:12] Yes, Grace Kelly!
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:36:15] Exactly. But apparently there is a version that came out that was like 3-D. So you could go to the cinema and it’s like the scissors are coming out of the screen, that’s s fairly dramatic.
JVN [00:36:25] And then what about, like, punk? Like, is there any associations with, like, scissors and like punk, like, a punkish culture?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:36:33] Oh, definitely. Because I mean, if you think about it, there’s something slightly menacing about scissors, which punks like, you know, again, because they have that sense of danger, but also because the punk aesthetic was all about a, mass consumerism. It was a totally different aesthetic. It was about doing it yourself and just changing the status quo. So you’d slash your clothes, you cut up things and even, like, with magazines and things of that time. So this was like in the 70s, there was a lot of cut and paste where they cut out, where they stick it together, it’s former magazine and even like album covers, there was an artist called Jamie Reid and he famously made an album cover, well, various ones, one for the Sex Pistols, which said, you know, “Never mind the bollocks.” If you can say that.
They all cut out, you know, cut and paste. So it was a very important part. And even like, you know, Vivienne Westwood, she’s a designer at this time, and there, you know, two fingers up at the establishment. So this is, like, post the 60s, when everybody was really optimistic, and suddenly it’s the 70s. And in England, definitely, you know, the economy is in a really bad state. People are getting really sort of fed up with everything, and the punks come with this small sort of different stance and, anti-what went before. And this is beginning, this new revolution, if you like, and this is a really important part of that. And there’s a great picture of Johnny Rotten, who is, like, the lead singer of the Sex Pistols, and it’s before he was about to go on stage in Amsterdam. And he’s just sitting and he’s got his hands on a pair of scissors. He’s just cleaning his nails with a pair of scissors. And there’s a menace about, it’s interesting, that he’s doing that.
But also with scissors and any tool like a hammer or said that there’s something about them that if they’re lying around, you want to pick them up and touch them, maybe because you’re recognizing that there’s something very personal about it. So it’s quite interesting. You’ve attracted towards them. You want to touch them. And I think what I love about old scissors and even, like, sort of these old tailoring ones, is that because they do get touched a lot, I love the way the handles over time erode, and you know somebody else held them. And it’s like when you pick them up and hold them, you’re connected. There’s a history. Somebody’s personal story. So I think the nicest thing is when somebody gives you a pair of their scissors. This has happened to me a few times and it’s, like, but it’s such a great thing to give you because you feel it’s something quite personal that giving it to you. It’s sort of, you know, it’s got a bit of them in it. You feel connected, so I really like that.
JVN [00:39:13] Oh, I love that. What, I mean, is there any, like, other, like, cultural or, like, religious or, like, life and death moments that have, like, a strong association with shears?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:39:26] These are, like, eighteen hundreds, they’re really pretty. So, I’ll show you those. So you can see, this is a bird, so it could be a stork, or it could be a heron, which is very Middle Eastern. And I used to say that before scissors were very early on created in sort of, like, Middle Eastern places like Turkey and Persia. So these are tiny, as you can see. So we’ve got a store or a heron standing on a turtle, which is a symbol of fertility. And when I put it, I don’t know if you could see, there’s a little baby inside. I mean, it’s difficult to see. [CROSSTALK] But if you look, so again, the eye is the pivot point here, and then the beak are the blades, but the blades aren’t sharp, they’re slightly flattened and dull at the ends.
So, these are really meant to be, they remind you, of midwifery scissors. So these are scissors. I mean, I don’t know if these were really used for that or they were a gift memorizing this idea. But how a midwife these were a clamp for the umbilical cord. And in olden days, midwifes, while they were waiting for the women’s give birth, they would have their sewing basket, they’d be doing the sewing and the scissors would go from the basket to, you know, the use them for both things. So that’s how this came about. So the idea of a, you know, a stork who delivers a baby or a heron who’s famous for longevity and full fidelity because they only have one mate. So these became very sort of popular animated gifts. I say never given, you know, to a woman who was having a baby or whatever. So they’re very symbolic. So that’s like the beginning of life.
JVN [00:41:03] How many scissors do you have in your collection, do you think?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:41:07] I haven’t counted them lately. Hundreds. I really, I don’t know, they’re everywhere in my house. I see. So when you come in my front door, my actually, my front door knocker is a pair of scissors. So it’s, like, a pair of Sheffield scissors. So if you can imagine, and they’ve blunted the ends, so you know, it’s a perfect door knocker. But when you come in, the main wall upstairs is just, like, covered in scissors that are hanging up. And once, actually, ages ago, you said a policeman came into our house because we live in Notting Hill. Have you heard of the Notting Hill Carnival? So if it’s not impossible, there’s a stage outside our door. It gets quite lively. And the policemen came in to say, “Oh, how are you doing? Everything alright?” And then his eyes saw the wall scissors, and I think my husband actually said, “Yeah, I know how my wife’s going to kill me. I just don’t know which pair.” And the policeman was, like, “Whoa…”
JVN [00:41:58] It’s, like, “Bye, you guys, you’ll be fine.”
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:42:00] Yeah, “I think I don’t need to worry about you.” Anyway, I digress. So these ones, could you see these ones?
JVN [00:42:06] Yeah, they have a cross in the middle.
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:42:10] Yeah, exactly. So these were a gift for people becoming a nun or a monk, and they would be given a pair of these, they’re religious themed, as you can see. So for a nun maybe to be used for embroidery, but also for a monk, they might be used to do his first haircut. So you know, when he was given his monk’s tonsure, as they call it, that would have been, those would have been used for that.
JVN [00:42:33] OK, so it actually leads us into a great segue for this question. So what do we know about the history of scissors and hair care? Like, I mean, Vidal Sassoon, I watched this amazing documentary about him, and previous to him, I mean, like, our grandmothers and our great grandmothers and, like, everyone before the 60s was getting their hair more set. Like, you would go to the salon or you would, like, have your hair styled, coiffed, and it would be, like, you know, a big powdery style, or a big gel style or, like, you’re not, like, washing your own hair at home. It would be, like, set, you would wear hats or whatever. And Vidal Sassoon , like, invented the haircut. he really started making, like, a lot of the different shapes and a lot of the different styles, because even when women did cut their hair off, they were still a lot of times, like, going to a salon or like having someone else style their hair. And it also really was like teaching people how to do their own hair like at home and, you know, rocking these new styles. So, but, was there other, like, hair trends or other, like, hair cutting scissors, like, who? What do we know about that?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:43:33] OK. Well, it seems like for quite a long time hair scissors were fairly simple. So you get I mean, here’s a pair of early nineteen something. But I mean, they’re quite boring, aren’t they? Just a simple pair of scissors, nothing very serious.
JVN [00:43:47] No even pinky rest.
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:43:51] No, exactly. I think you’re sort of right, actually, that it’s only in the 20th century and post Vidal Sassoon, as they say, that documentary about him, I mean, it’s called “The Man Who Changed The World With A Pair Of Scissors.” I mean, literally, he did and transform women’s lives, it’s like a really good cut. And then, you could, you didn’t really have to, to have anything done to it. It was wash and go, sort of thing. So, I do feel, yeah, that was a major moment.
JVN [00:44:17] What about, like, the history of, like, scissor sharpeners? Like it, like, was there because, like, my scissors sharpener was so important to me at the salon and I always went to the same guy and I never went to anybody else and it had to be him and every other person that ever came into our salon as a shear sharpener, I always called them “the swarthy shear salesmen,” because I only trusted the one. Like, So what about, like, what are they just called, like, scissor sharpeners? Or is there like a different name for that, like, trade?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:44:44] Yeah, because I mean, going back a long time ago, you would get guys who went around like peddlers. Maybe they were peddlers as well selling buttons and haberdashery, but they would also sharpen scissors. You know, you get the scissor grinder, and he’d go round with a little carton of things. And then actually, I’ve got, well, I haven’t got it here. I’ve got a scissor sharpener from, like, the 1950s, it’s a really cool box and it’s, but it’s shaped like a loaf of bread. I don’t think it could have been very good. So, like, the slices of bread, they had one section for sharpening a knife and one for scissors, but I don’t think it did a very good job.
So you have those guys who went around when eventually, but nowadays, like, you say. You have that one person you go to or you send them somewhere, you don’t routinely see people going around, but I think nowadays maybe they don’t need sharpening as much. So and I think tailor scissors used to not have to shorten at all. And I remember reading about some tailor and like the way they used to look after their scissors and they would just run them through their hair because he had oil in their hair. And it was just like, that kept them sharp.
JVN [00:45:48] Interesting. I wonder if he ever accidentally, like, cut any chunks off of his hair, so he’s going back to where we started about, like, what drew you to studying scissors? What’s it been like to learn about their history? And if there’s other folks who are like, “You can become a historian of, like, things that I think are interesting?” Is there anything that you would like to tell, like people of any age, any gender, any whatever? Like, “I want to become a historian.” Like, what would you say to those folks?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:46:17] Oh, well, I mean, it’s been amazing. Well, it’s, like, one of those things, you know, the more you learn, the more you know there is to learn. So I think to be a historian, you know, you find something that interests you, an object or a certain period and you start reading about it and then, you know, opens your eyes. And I think the more you start reading about something and actually get immersed in it, the more you want to know about it. I mean, objects are great because you can then go and source the objects so, like, for example, with scissors. You know, every time I go anywhere, you know, you go to the flea market, there’s always a pair of scissors. You know, they’re quite easy to find. That’s why scissors are quite fun to collect, I think, because everywhere you go, you know, they’re easy to find.
And, like, my husband always laughs, because if you go away for a weekend, like, you know, any time we go to a different city abroad, not that we have during COVID, but like you go for the weekend to I don’t know, like Antwerp in Belgium or Marrakech, you know, it’s easy to find scissors and we rate weekends by how many pair of scissors did you buy like this will say, “Well, Morocco. I had about six pairs of scissors. Antwerp were five,” that, you know, and that’s how I rate my weekends. But it’s so much fun, just looking. But having an interest in anything is just good for you, isn’t it opens your eyes and it, you know, it’s just great. You can immerse yourself in it and you want to know more naturally, I think.
JVN [00:47:40] Have you had, like, tons of run-ins at, like, security at the airport where they’re like, “Why do you have so many scissors?” Or do you just like, check them or like, what do you do?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:47:49] No, but interesting, that did happen to me on the way back from Antwerp. So I was in and took my husband and he had to go off on some business thing and I was left alone. I was coming back in a train and I had all my luggage and I said, you know, 12 pairs of scissors and weirdly, a statue of St. Theresa, which I also found, about this big. I was very excited by that as well. And I could see the luggage going through the thing and the guys there just to check it. Just looking at me, “Who is this woman? What is she doing?” Yeah, that thing.
JVN [00:48:19] Yeah. Like, maybe send them. I don’t want you to get in trouble, like. So, I’m obsessed with this, seeing so much of your collection has been amazing. Do you have, like, a particular favorite in your collection that you just love the most?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:48:32] Well, I do like the bird ones I showed you, because they’re, like, little, tiny. Yeah, but then I also love the ones you can see behind me. Those really giant scissors. You see that they’re almost as big as me, and I think I bought them through eBay, and I had to go miles to go and pick them up. And they were actually a display per an advert from a shop from, I think they’re, like, 1950s or so. What’s great is they’re so incredibly heavy. But if I can manage to pick them up, they do actually cut. How great is that, how great is that?
JVN [00:49:04] I’m obsessed. Ok, so if there’s people who, like, have watched or who have listened to this and now they’re, like, obsessed with scissors. How can people, like, step up their own, like, scissors game? Like, yeah, any vendors you recommend or, like, antiques or anything?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:49:21] Well, I mean, it’s great nowadays on the internet. There are lots of, like, sort of online magazines and blogs you can read. There’s the collectors weekly, I think, in America and in England that gives you tips, you know, for sort of scissors that you can find, and the history of scissors. So that’s also great. And then obviously markets, and, like I was saying, flea markets. I mean, there are so many scissors, particularly 19th century scissors are very easy to find because they just made so many of them, it’s quite hard to find the older ones. And obviously they’re more expensive. Often they’re more intricate. Maybe they’re made of pure silver, so they’re more expensive. But you can have a lot of fun just, you know, finding just unusual ones. And sometimes you don’t even know what they’re for. It’s amazing. You can buy a pair of scissors. You started thinking, Oh, that must be for I don’t know, doing a buttonhole and it turns out they’re actually for some medical procedures. You know it’s quite complicated, working out what they’re for, sometimes I want to say these are these. Have you seen the biggest scissors? Can you see those?
JVN [00:50:23] Oh my gosh. Babies? Yeah. The hair again.
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:50:27] Yeah. But they cut. They actually cut. That’s what I love about it. So that’s cool. And then the other pair. So these are from Morocco. These are fun. They’re made out of the wood of a lemon tree. They’re really beautiful, but they actually do cut, amazingly.
JVN [00:50:46] Oh my God, those are cool. What about ways to use household scissors that we may not have used? Like, is there any like cool things that we can do with scissors, or, like, like, I just realized, like not that long ago that I could, like, cut carrots with scissors and like, I sort of, like, cutting food for like, salads and stuff.
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:51:05] No, you can! That’s a whole, I’d never thought about doing that.
JVN [00:51:07] Because I was too lazy to clean the, because I had cut, like, meat on the cutting board, and then I was too lazy to clean it like it literally was born out of, like, sheer laziness. And so then I thought and I was doing like, I don’t remember. I think it was, like, soup, but then I was too lazy to get another cutting board. So then I just like looked at the scissors and then I got the carrot and I just washed it. And then it’s like, put it over the bowl. And I was just like, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut over it, to save a dish.
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:51:32] To be honest? I think, you know, be inspired by the scissors. Go where the scissors take. You can cut, you know, I think you can use them for pretty much anything. But yeah, but like I was saying, don’t use your dressmaking scissors to do that, but you can use your general scissors or your kitchen scissors to do that. Yeah. So I think the world is your oyster. But I mean, in terms of creativity, what you can do with a pair of scissors like, you know, paper cuts, like I was saying that cutting paper and collage, you can have so much fun with that. And like kids as well, and that’s an interesting thing. I find that children are so protective of your children and don’t want them to do anything dangerous. And I’m one of the first things you do is give them a pair of scissors, which seems crazy, doesn’t it?
Because, you know, why would you do that, put a weapon into the hands of small children? But then in fact, that’s how children, that’s such a great educational thing. Because it’s using scissors that teaches you all those small motor actions. And also it teaches children patience and all sorts of good qualities because they learn that, you know, if you’re cutting out paper or doing some arty thing with paper, you know, once you make a cut, you can’t, you can’t go back. You have to pursue it, and you have to do the whole thing as it were. So it teaches kids a lot of good things that I’ve got to say, you know, as kids like when they’re at school, these scissors and as you can see, multiple holes so that the teacher and the child or the parents have a child, you can teach them how to do that. So that’s really cool.
JVN [00:53:03] Oh, those are cute. I remember in kindergarten we had to do this thing with like little kids scissors, where it was, like, it was, like, one of those, like, circles that gets smaller and smaller, and you have to follow the line to make it into, like, a paper spring. And our teacher was, like, “Don’t talk. Pay attention. And you have to like, follow the lines.” And I remember I got started and I was like, “Oh my God, I’m so good at this.” And then after, like my fourth cut, I started looking at everyone else’s and then I started, like talking to my table mates. And then I looked down and I had just cut it to shreds like I was nowhere near, like, cutting it in pieces.
And my teacher got so mad at me and I was like, “Dammit,” Mrs. What was it? Mrs Macintosh? Or No? Yeah, no. Mrs. McDonald. No Macintosh. Mrs. Taylor. Her name was Taylor. It was of those things. My kindergarten teacher, Mrs Taylor. Yeah, she was, like, “You messed it up.” And then I was like, “Can I try again?” And she was like, “No, that’s what I said. Everyone only gets one,” and I was like…
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:53:54] So thinking of children, there are lots of cool children’s books that again, because scissors are the same connected to people and the human thing, they often get anthropomorphized. They come alive. And this is a book that was written in like 1915 by a guy who’s teaching his child. So it reminds me to make people figures and teach for patience and the first image they think of, you know, running with scissors. This is scissors running, chasing after the little cut out paper people.
JVN [00:54:23] That’s so cute!
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:54:24] And then the other one I love, thinking of children is, I don’t know if you know, you know, St. Peter that story. And the guy, so, he, you know, he’s a monster because he doesn’t use scissors. He doesn’t like getting his hair cut or his nails cut. He ends up being an uncivilized creature. Right? But also this famous story of the little boy who wouldn’t stop sucking his thumb. So this is quite scary. So the red-legged Scissor Man comes and cuts off his thumb, right? But what I love about this picture, if you can see it so that you see the red-legged Scissor Man, right? With his scissors. But when you look at it closely, it’s like, is he running with scissors? Or are the scissors pulling him? You know, I mean scissors, and he cannot resist the pull of the scissors. That’s what happens to me. Look what happened!
JVN [00:55:19] Yes! Because you, like, literally turned into a literal scissor historian. Teresa Collenette. This was so much fun. I can’t even stand it. This is the part where we are wrapping up, where it’s, like, guest’s choice. Is there anything that you would just be remiss if we, if you did not share with us or tell us about scissors, also, do you have any thing coming up for you that you want to promote or is did you have any new work coming out? Where can people follow you? Where are you the most active and people are just obsessed with you and want to? Are you big on Twitter, even on Instagram? Where are you talking about scissors?
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:56:03] Yeah, yeah. I’ve got an Instagram account, which I used on and off, so that’s got quite a few pictures of scissors. It’s called @HouseofScissors. And one day I do mean to write a book. I haven’t done it yet, and that, the trouble with that is because I keep changing my mind about what book I want to do. So I started off thinking, you know, quite academic. I’ve written my dissertation. Now I want to write a book that’s all about fun and the interaction of scissors and all these crazy things that maybe it would be designed in a not like a normal book. I don’t know. Anyway, that would be my dream, maybe.
JVN [00:56:23] I am obsessed that I have so many ideas. Wait, so, and you live in Notting Hill, when my husband and I come back to, my husband’s British, and when we come into town, I really want to come see your scissors.
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:56:33] Oh, you must, I’ll show you around.
JVN [00:56:34] One of my favorite Getting Curious guests is an entomologist called Jessica Ware, and she made the mistake of giving me her cell phone number. And now, every single time I find any insect or spider in my house, like, I find myself FaceTiming her, like, I’m a little obsessed with insects now. Like, she literally calls me an honorary entomologist because, like, I’m obsessed. I feel a similar beginning obsession here. So I hope you don’t regret it, but I do need to come see your scissors.
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:57:00] I’m excited, definitely, can’t wait. Definitely.
JVN [00:57:04] Teresa, thank you so much for your time. Thank you so much for your scholarship and for everything that you’ve spent your career learning about scissors and sharing with us. We had so much fun. Thank you for coming on Getting Curious. We appreciate you.
TERESA COLLENETTE [00:57:14] I’ve loved it. It’s been great. Thank you for having me.
JVN [00:57:20] You’ve been listening to Getting Curious with me, Jonathan Van Ness. Our guest this week was Teresa Collenette.
You’ll find links to her work in the episode description of whatever you’re listening to the show on.
Our theme music is “Freak” by Quiñ – thanks to her for letting us use it. If you enjoyed our show, introduce a friend – show them how to subscribe.
Follow us on Instagram & Twitter @CuriousWithJVN. Our socials are run and curated by Middle Seat Digital.
Our editor is Andrew Carson.
Getting Curious is produced by me, Erica Getto, and Zahra Crim.
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