My mother was an Artist. I remember telling her that one time, and I can still clearly see her eyebrows popping up and hear her correcting me, "I am a Craftswoman, not really an Artist.". I disagreed then, and I disagree now.
When she was a young woman, after graduating from college, she took a course in Interior Design, presumably to pass the time while my father finished Law School. I also believe she felt it would assist her in her chosen career, that of making a home for my father.
I was lucky enough to inherit one of her drawings from that time, which I have placed at the top of this post. In her home she had a mirror like the one to the left of the sofa, which is also similar to one that sat in the living room of my childhood home. I love the detail of the little knick knacks on the shelf to the right of the sofa, especially the little elephant.
Before she had been married a year, she gave birth to the first of her five daughters and was very, very busy. I am the youngest of those children, and some of my earliest memories are of sitting under the work table in her "sewing room" playing with Betsy McCall paper dolls while she sewed dresses, with pinafores, for my youngest (five years my senior) sister and I.
She started making a quilt when I was very young. In some future post, I will blog about my father's artistry, starting with the quilting frame he built for her. However, she was not to finish that quilt herself. After several years in a state of incompleteness, some ladies from her church finished it for her. Much later in her life, she started, and finished, four more quilts, so that there was one for each us. I treasure mine. It is a log cabin design, with pieces made from all those little dresses she made for my sisters and me. She must have known I would want the one with the solid red backing, because there is a name tag, with my name on it, covering a presumed flaw somewhere in the middle of it.
Later she learned to knit, sweaters, socks, and a couple of Christmas stockings I still hang on my mantelpiece each Yule. However, when I was in high school, and the only one of her daughters still living at home, she began to do needlework. It became a passion. Crewel, appliqué work, pulled thread work, metal thread. She took courses, and taught courses. In a time long before the Internet, she had a mail-order library of embroidery books. At the time of her death, there were books enough to cover one entire wall of a large upstairs room that she used as her work room. I am lucky enough to own a piece of embroidery that has been my favorite since she first created it in the late 1960s.
As an assignment for a Design course she was taking, she was tasked with creating an exercise in vertical and horizontal lines. She created an embroidery painting of a garden wall with the full moon behind it. The colors are soft and romantic, and when I look at the flowers climbing that garden wall my heart sings with joy.
My mother passed away almost ten years ago, after a long and happy life that included 65 years making a home for my father. I am so grateful that she left behind a body of art work large enough for all five of her daughters to share.
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