Things Revisited

Where to start?

I have put off writing this blog entry for a variety of reasons.  Not simply being busy or overwhelmed, well, maybe overwhelmed.  The topic I was going to write about was “things revisited”.


In progress

The idea that the skills and experiences we learned as children can serve us well as adults.  For instance, remember when they had Home Economics class in school?  The class that taught you a bit about how to cook and sew.


Lillie, Mixed-media

I was stubborn and rebellious in my 8th grade class taught by Mrs. Bain.  (It’s funny, you always remember the really good or bad teachers by name.  Mrs. Bain was a bit of both).  She was into precision and I just couldn’t deliver.  I thought the skills she was teaching were equivalent to algebra, something I would never really use in life. She taught us how to make a ridiculous salad that was supposed to look like a candle for Christmas with a banana, pineapple and maraschino cherry.  Who lives like that?

But, the sewing thing got my attention.   Maybe it was the idea of making a two dimensional thing into a three dimensional thing, trans formative and creative.  My seams were uneven, my zipper puckered, and yet she taught me how to hem pants, sew on buttons, and make an apron and a skirt.

I have continued sewing throughout my life, in both traditional and non-traditional ways.  I have made art dolls, aprons, my children’s clothes, and once when I was very poor and couldn’t afford curtains I ironed brown paper bags open and sewed them into cafe curtains.  They looked so nice people were envious. (smile)

Over the summer, I usually ask my drawing students if they want to learn something new since we usually have more in-depth studio time.  Some of my drawing students this year asked me to teach them how to sew.  These sewing classes have kept me sane and I’m having so much fun!  My daughter was never interested in sewing, so in a way this is kind of revisiting this craft. It also helps to find kids between the ages of 11-14 who are creative and into discovering new things.  And so, we sew.  Flannel pajama pants, pillowcases, banjo straps and catnip toys.

That’s what the topic was going to be about, and then

The sudden, unexpected reality that my husband is having a serious health crisis that will require surgery.  Our lives are blown apart. We are terrified and shocked as we wait for a surgical date.  We clean, paint, bike, and repair around the house to keep busy. We read and pray and do anything we can to distract us from our fear.  And we wait.

We are caught in limbo, not knowing exactly when surgery will take place or what the recovery will be like.  We can’t make plans or commit to anything because we just don’t know.  Yet, life goes on.  We get up, get dressed, put one foot in front of the other and muddle through our lives, numb.

So I’ve put off writing this because I couldn’t figure out what to say.  I guess I could just not even mention it but for some reason, to me that doesn’t seem honest and I will tell you why.

I teach a child that has severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  Really, seriously. I  talked to the parent and asked her how I could help her child.  She said that the psychiatrist told her that whenever she makes a mistake to bring it to the attention of her child and show him, “see, even grownups make mistakes.”  The Dr. explained that our culture has become so “edited to perfection” that kids don’t have positive role models that show life is sometimes a struggle and unpredictable.  We need role models to show the reality of humanity.  That there is joy, but also despair. That we get frightened, that we struggle, that we persevere.  And so, this blog entry will perhaps share my humanity.

I’m glad I have my Faith. Much like sewing, it has been something I had early exposure to and struggled with.  At times feeling much like sewing; bumpy and uneven, messy.  My Faith today is hardly recognizable to the religion I was exposed to in my youth.

A few years ago, I learned about sword making.  I learned how the metal is heated and tempered repeatedly making it stronger each time. Tempered, what a great word. As defined by Webster, brought to the desired hardness or strength by heating and cooling. I feel that way about my faith these days.  It’s strong from years of questioning, searching and studying. Tempered.  In sword making, realigning particles on a molecular level.

Does this make any sense?  This idea that things we are exposed to as children can revisit us as adults and make us stronger, more skilled? More marketable?  More creative?  Can it make me more as brave as Malala?

So, this is my blog post.  This entire, wandering miasma.  I can’t put a happy bow on it or tie it up pretty.  It is what it is.  However this idea of “skills revisited” intrigues me.  Before I sat down to write this, I had a dozen examples in my brain and obviously, that file has been deleted.

I’m sure as I continue to work in my studio getting ready for Christmas shows that I will start writing them down.  In the studio, I am busy painting large wooden Father Christmas sculptures, snowmen.  And, with my friend and student Lisa, we are busy firing the kiln with plates, trays, candle holders and more.  You can see more pictures on my Facebook page and email for show information if you are interested.Thanks for listening, prayers welcomed.