Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I've Crafted Ever Since I Can Remember
I often get asked how I got into crafting. It's really crazy-- I can't pinpoint what exactly peaked my interest, but I know I've loved it ever since I can remember.
My earliest memories of crafting are from kindergarten class in Chicago when I was 5 years old back in the early 70's. I still remember making beautiful Valentine cards from paper doilies, glitter and stickers of brightly colored Cupids with my classmates. And let's not forget my first "altered art" experience which consisted of gluing pretty buttons all over a glass soda bottle and making it into a lovely vase for my mom for Mother's Day. Of course, the gift would not have been complete if it wasn't for the big fluffy tissue paper flower I made to accompany it. My mom displayed my artwork for many years. I was so proud! (By the way, that little photo to the right is of me in 1969, just before I took the leap into the crafting world.)
Fast forward to the 6th grade, still in the 70's. We had moved to Phoenix by that time. One day, while rummaging through boxes in our storage shed, I came across a box filled with all sorts of crafting goodies and kits. Apparently, my mother had belonged to a crafting club that would send her complete craft kits for $1.00 each. There were all sorts of interesting projects to be found that day. I especially remember being enchanted with a Christmas ornament kit. It featured plastic cylinder tubes, fake snow, cotton batting, mini snowmen, reindeer, trees and other figures so you could make your own little winter scene inside the tube. (Kind of like an earlier version of the captured jar fairies that are popular now.) Each night, when I was suppossed to be in bed, I'd sit up under my covers with a flashlight making my newfound creations. There was no doubt about it--I was hooked! That year, everyone in my family got a handmade gift from me for Christmas. The "OOH's" and "AAH's" I received from everyone was definite shot in the arm for me. I was onto something.
In 1979, I graduated from the 8th grade. In my home economics class, I learned to sew. I was determined that I would make my own dress to wear for the last day of school that last week. Although I started making it in class, I was unable to finish it. At the time, I did not own a sewing machine, but I had my heart set on wearing that dress. My dear mom (bless her heart) and I stayed up all hours of the night sewing that dress by hand. It was a sun dress, complete with pretty ruffled ribbon trim. Sun dresses were all the rage back then. Everyone wore them. I did get to wear my dress for the last day of school and was so proud of my efforts. And, thank goodness for my mom who gave up a full night's sleep to help me realize my dream. I don't know what I would have done without her! It sounds silly now, but it was important to me at the time.
By the mid-80's, I was married and had my first two children, Joey and Anthony. As is the case with many young families, money was tight for us. We always had enough to pay our bills and provide the necessities for the household, but that was about it. In order to help pay for the "extras" for Christmas one year, I crafted little wooden jewelry pieces at my kitchen table and sold them to my co-workers at the office. The first day I brought them to work, I sold everything. I made $375.00 from my little creations that day. That was a lot of money back then, not to mention the fact that my jewelry was selling for just $2.00-$3.00 each piece at the time. To add to my the excitement, my co-workers couldn't get enough. They wanted more of my little jewelry creations so they could give them to their loved ones for Christmas. Needless to say, that was a very busy crafting year for me. And, believe me, I was thankful. :)
In the summer of 1995, my daughter, Brianna turned 2 years old. I was a single parent by that time, as my ex-husband and I had recently divorced. I wanted to make her something special that year - something she could remember me by for years to come. I had just purchased my first sewing machine. I made her an adorable little frilly dress, along with a big stuffed doll that had the same matching outfit. It was the first time in years that I made anything on a sewing machine. I told my friend at work about my latest creations. At her request, I brought the doll into work and I got slammed with requests for special orders. It was amazing. That year, after I put the kids to bed, I stayed up late each night making doll after doll according to each person's special request. It was a very busy time for me, and I made hundreds of those dolls right up through the Christmas season.
That was definitely the year where I made crafting a regular part of my life. I am always working on something. I find that I am antsy when I am empty-handed. I always have to be doing something so I can relax. When we take family vacations which require long drives, my husband, Michael, usually does the driving. To help pass the time for long car rides, I busily work on piecing a grandmother's garden quilt. (That quilt was started about 8 years ago. One of these days, I will get it finished...it's just a matter of time.) Even on the few occasions that I am able to sit and watch television with my family, I always work on a craft project.
Crafts have definitely become a huge part of my life and I love every minute of it.
(Pictured above - Me and my little dollie creations (left to right)- sculptured baby doll, one version of hundreds of rag dolls made in 1995, and my favorite little dollie, my daughter, Brianna. Circa 1996.)