Five Favorite Things: Amy Strickland

Amy Strickland’s friends call her house The Funhouse, and if this were a court of law, here’s our case. In her bedroom she has three plastic half balloons on the wall and a track of working carnival lights that were once used as a sales tool but are now used as wall decor. In the master bath, there’s a gigantic oval sign with a vanilla ice cream cone in the middle. (There was a chocolate cone, too, but she gave it to a friend. Strickland is super generous because a) she has tons of stuff and b) by giving things away she gets to keep that comfy “collector” status, with “hoarder” juuust out of reach.) Final piece of evidence to support our case? In the backyard there are parts of vintage signs including an “A,” statues, gnomes, toadstools and the entire contents of a king-sized feather duvet that one of her dogs recently destroyed. Wait, how is that fun? Well, Practical Patty, the dogs like it so it’s fun. Plus what pet owner laughs instead of losing their shit when personal belongings get destroyed? Not many. But Amy Strickland isn’t like most people.

She grew up in Lubbock, has the Olan Mills picture to prove it and she’s always loved antiques. She’s a digger who will spend hours and hours at a flea market combing through everything once, then twice and then a third time just in case. She has missed meals, annoyed friends and discovered some of the best finds of her life that way. One stroll through her Oak Cliff bungalow and it’s easy to see that all that patience has paid off. She has hundreds and hundreds of interesting and unusual figurines, knickknacks, terrariums, wall hangings, taxidermied animals, pictures, lamps and more. If you want to know her secrets, keep reading. If you want to own her things, join the Oak Cliff Garage Sale Group on Facebook. She’s always selling something.

Growing up in West Texas, Strickland went around to flea markets, swap meets and vintage stores with her mom. They’ve both collected things for as long as either can remember. The only difference is, her mom likes cute while Strickland skews a little more macabre. Her mourning ring collection is on permanent display in the master bathroom and they are seriously her most favorite things. Most were made in the 1920s with a material called bakelite that contains formaldehyde. The picture inside was obviously of the deceased, but in prison, men would melt down the rings, replace the photo with one of themselves, give it to their special lady on the outside and call it a Sweetheart Ring. 

Strickland calls her second favorite thing her “regular jewelry,” but it’s really anything but. She kind of has a thing for turquoise, not that it’s obvious at all. She finds most of her turquoise at estate sales and the occasional online auction. When she’s in the mood for modern, she heads to Elements and picks up something by Pamela Love or MANIAMANIA.

Strickland cannot resist buying items that are one-of-a-kind. When she was shopping in Canton, she came across this little scene in a glass case. A crusty, old country guy was working the booth and when Strickland asked what it was and he replied, “A cricket giving another cricket a haircut,” she bought it on the spot. That's about as one-of-a-kind as it gets. Over the years friends have expressed their love of it and Strickland gives them a super Southern, “I don’t fucking think so. Hell no.”

Strickland has a people family and a dog family. Every member of the dog family has a name or two and their very own face pillow from Pillowmob. There’s Maggie, BooBoo, Cookie and Larry Bearison, Chairman of the Teddy Bear Committee. How on Earth did he get such an adorable name? He kept chewing the faces off teddy bears. Adorably, of course. Occasionally he breaks free from the yard and returns with a Church’s Chicken Bone. Thug life.

As for her people family, she keeps them on display with a custom illustration from Lorna Leedy of Fancy Pony Land called “People at Your Funeral.” It’s typically given as a gift, but Strickland gifted it to herself so she could make sure her funeral was stocked with her real family – Mother, Sister, Cousin, Aunt, MeMa, Pawpaw, Andy Warhol, Dolly Parton, Daryl Dixon and Robert Smith.

The Mantle (yes it’s a proper noun) is like a rotating display case: New items come and go, and over the holidays it explodes in vintage Santas and red and white everything. There are, however, a few key pieces that aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. The bear head and not-pictured paws don’t look like it, but they’re real. Shot and stuffed by Pawpaw Steele. When they started deteriorating, Strickland salvaged what she could and now it’s just a head and some hands. As for the vintage mannequin heads? It pays to get to know your shop owners. When one of Strickland’s favorites in Lubbock was closing down, they asked if she wanted the heads because they knew she’d always loved them. Another comes from a costume shop that had been around since the 1940s and closed down in the early 2000s. Strickland drove to Galveston to pick up that one. The moral of the story? Go to any lengths, because when you’re persistent, you get the best shit.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Nikki Lott
Contact: Nikki Lott