My First Creation
Cutting a wee door and wee windows out of an empty cigarette package is the first craft activity I remember. The little house was built for either the Viceroy or the Chesterfield family. I was sitting on the living room floor at the feet of my mother, who was supervising my use of the scissors. She said I was three years old.
That was the beginning of a long list of craft projects that I have worked on in my nearly sixty-eight years. My cousin Barbara, who lived next door, and I used to hand sew doll clothes. We were pre-Barbyites. Our 18 inch dolls, Susie and Clarissa, were fun to sew for, and had quite the extensive wardrobes. A neighbor, who owned a Boston bulldog, taught me to crochet. That project was a small purse about the size of an index card, and it was made of shiny, navy blue cord-like material. I don’t recall crocheting again until, as a young mother, I made two granny square afghans. They were done in popular colors of the 1960’s, cream, gold, avocado, and orange. Gifts to my mother and mother-in-law, they have returned to me.
Another neighbor introduced me and some other girls who lived on our block to sewing. And I was fortunate to live half a block away from the local high school where summer classes were offered in sewing. When I picked out the fabric for a peasant blouse and matching dirndl skirt, my mother gave me some good advice. She suggested that the white background I had selected would soon be boring and that the same fabric with the yellow background would please me longer. She was right. I’ve reused her suggestion many times over the years.
|I see that swanky Lake Drive has been mistakenly substituted|
for Larkin St. for some of us. This album clip is from the local
Shorewood , WI paper, perhaps summer of 1950.
While raising five above average children (We live in the vicinity of Lake Wobegon.) I fit in a little knitting, a little weaving, some batik, puppet making, and quite a bit of sewing. Do you remember Aunt Lydia's Rug yarn? That is what I used to weave the pillows pictured below. Spinning was not yet in my repertoire. And the choice of yarn was not as plentiful as today.
As the nest grew empty I took courses in ceramic, graphic arts, and painting. When my children started filling their own nests, I started quilting baby blankets and then “big bed” quilts. I took classes at the University of Minnesota’s Split Rock Arts Program, embroidery from Ilse Aviks, and shibori from Ana Lisa Hedstrom. I spent a number of glorious weeks on Washington Island at the tip of Wisconsin’s Door County attending classes at Sievers School of Fiber Arts. They included dyeing with Mary Curran, where my mind was opened to the wonderful possibility and mystery of color; tapestry weaving with Sarah Swett, where I learned the intricacies of painting with yarn; and felting and dyeing with Chad Hagen, where I first fell in love with dyeing wool. Stephanie Robertson took the terror out of the silk screen process with her casual, free approach. But the class I took repeatedly was Mary Jo Scandin’s Batik. OOOOOOH, Batik!
A couple of years ago I looked around at all my supplies, materials, and notebooks, and decided, instead of being an art supply collector, it was really time to call myself a fiber artist. I have tried many media, but have become master of none. I have decided that is okay. That's why the subtitle of this blog is “enthusiasms of a deliberate dilettante.” Mr. Webster defines a dilettante as--a person who pursues an art or science merely for amusement; a dabbler. That may sound like a negative to some, but I say that I relish the opportunities that have presented themselves as I have dabbled, not to mention the wonderful, talented, understanding, and sharing individuals I have met along my path.
And I hope to meet you there soon.