Monday, October 12, 2009

The beginning

This illustration is by my cousin's 9-year-old son, Niklaus.

The description on the back reads: "There is a missle being shot at the Dragon and a guy that has a sheild That is blocking fire. And He has a sord."

Note missile trajectory!

I am a little sad that the ink is bleeding through from the back, and fading at the same time.

I think for Nik's birthday I am going to put together a little art kit. When I was his age, the most exciting gifts I received were art supplies. They always seemed so expensive, and I guarded them fiercely from my little brother. My best friend, Anne, and I were always so competitive about our crayons and the like. If one of us got the new set of scented crayons or color-changing markers, it was a tragedy for the other. At the time, it meant the girl with the newer art supplies had better, more loving parents. Usually, it was Anne's parents who won. She and I would always share with one another, however, but seldom with our classmates. They didn't understand why it was a crime to break crayons, and that they must peel back the paper evenly, and take care not to get the light-colored markers all muddy from coloring over the darker inks. It was a matter of respecting our treasures, and few could be trusted.

(Left: myself, Anne and Bev at Cool Cottons in Portland.)

I was so lucky to have parents who nurtured my creative side. Anne's mother, Bev, was also instrumental: she held crafting parties for Anne's birthday, and taught our 3rd grade class to sew. My family moved from Portland to Nashville the summer after 3rd grade, and Anne and I kept in touch by mail. A couple years later, my family visited Portland and Bev signed Anne and I up for sewing lessons. We made some really ridiculous drawstring bags, and elastic-waist shorts, and probably a scrunchie or two. Bev took us to her father's beach house in Seaside, Oregon (which for a long time had an autographed picture of Huey Lewis & the News in the bathroom), and we sewed all weekend. I think that's when I got hooked.

When I was 18, I moved back to Portland for a little while. Bev had been a quilter for as long as I remembered, so naturally it was her guidance I sought when I decided to learn to quilt. I don't know why I wanted to--it just struck me, suddenly, as wonderful. I made my first quilt (below) and the love of sewing was new again.

My mom had always sewn a little, and when I moved back to Nashville I taught her how to quilt. Really, I pestered her until she caved and accompanied me to buy fabric... my mom can be stubborn! Her first quilt (below) was gorgeous, and she too fell in love with the process.

And this brings me back to the original subject: encouraging creativity in youngsters. If someone hadn't taught me to sew, would I have arrived here on my own? Maybe. I sure went through a lot of different mediums before I settled on textiles--nothing else felt quite right. I hope Nik holds onto his creative voice, and I hope I can help him find the right tools to make it heard.


  1. Lovely posting :). My mother sewed EVERYTHING (except quilts), including all my school clothes, when I was growing up, and I was sort of interested in sewing, but very interested in embroidery and needlework. I loved the history and -- I don't know -- femininity of it. I didn't start quilting till after my children were born. My daughter has always been very artistic -- but not that interested in sewing or quilting. She was always impressed with my friend who had a walk-in closet full of paints and markers and craft paper and every kind of craft supply imaginable except fabric. In high school she started working with glass -- fusible glass primarily. It was very sweet for me this summer when one day I came home from work and she had made a cute apron with a free pattern she was given when she accompanied me to Cool Cottons one day. She wanted more fabric, and I was so excited that she was sewing, I let her raid my stash. She made another apron and started a third before she went back to college. No matter how she finds her creative voice (whether it leads to more sewing or not), I'm so glad she has always felt free and encouraged to make that voice heard. It is so important. Anyway -- thanks for a nice read.

  2. I love all of this support of creative kids! I'm an elementary-after school-art teacher at 3 schools, and the kids are amazing! I'm grateful for parents who support their young artists! I have a great time with them.

    (I now have grand-girls, and one new grand-boy! Both the older girls received art kits from me this year for their birthdays.)


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