Friday, November 10, 2006

the crafty gene :: a serial post

What, did Target just distribute an enormous overstock of brand-new fake-o Vans to thrift stores across the nation?

Because I, too, found a brand-new pair at Goodwill. (Actually, there were several. At the East Ohio Street Goodwill, if any locals want in on this.) These are a couple sizes bigger than Iris wears right now, so I have some time to consider how to embellish them.

Between overcast skies and the end of daylight savings time, which means it’s dark by the time I get home from work, it has been difficult taking pictures lately. Here’s a belated look at another thrifted shirt I appliquéd for Iris. I love this little fox. I can say that because I did not draw him myself, but copied him shamelessly from Gymboree. Yes, I know he needs a trim.

This little project brings me back to Helen, a subject I’ve been wanting to return to since I posted about her last month. I think I'll spread this here post out over a couple of days... I can feel it spinning out loooong.

I think one reason I'm so attached to Helen – that's Helen plural, both my sewing machine and what I know of her namesake – is that she reminds me of my grandmother.

My grandmother had a young family during the Depression and learned to make everything. One of the great regrets of my life is that my 13-year-old self did not appreciate the high school dance dresses she'd made for my mother in the 50s. When Grammy was shedding belongings before moving back to Pennsylvania, she offered the dresses to me if I wanted them. They fit me like the proverbial glove. But I was a typical teenager and did not appreciate the painfully out-of-fashion New Look silhouettes (this was the 80s, dropped waists were in), polka-dotted taffetas (Laura Ashley florals were all the rage), and knee-length circle skirts (I wore my skirts either very short or very long, and skinny). So to Goodwill they went. Maybe that's why I'm addicted to Goodwill now. I'm always looking for some other family's castoff treasure.

My mother says the crafty gene skipped a generation – hers. Me, I've made things all my life. When I was 10, my parents gave me their old kitchen table (chrome and formica! another vintage treasure consigned to the dustbin of family history) for a craft table, and I spent hours sitting there making dollhouse furniture out of odds and ends. I remember particularly a fireplace with pebbles glued on for “fieldstones” and a popsicle stick sled I painted Radio Flyer red. Dressers with working drawers made of matchboxes. Lamps made of golf tees with toothpaste-tube caps for shades. Our neighbors learned to give me first dibs on all manner of bits and scraps before throwing them away.

To be continued.


Anonymous Sarah said...

More inspiration for you:

I'll give you the same advise I gave Meg. If you're going to blanket stitch (or do any kind of stitching, really) onto these babies, make sure you have a thimble handy. I didn't (small fingers carried it off somewhere and I still have yet to find it) and my fingertips hurt for days afterwards. Days, I tell you. Notice that when I did Astrid's shoes the stitching only amounted to sewing a button on. Previous experience taught me something.

Looking forward to reading more about the Helens and more about you.

8:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your fox untrimmed - he looks 'whiskery' ( a very good thing in a fox).

Looking forward to the next installment of your tale...

3:19 AM  

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