Friday, May 20, 2016

On Being a Maker, Part 1: Heritage

Earlier this year, Kate from the A Playful Day podcast asked the question, "What does making mean to YOU? " (Here's a link to the specific episode where she posed the question.  It's worth a listen.)

I've been rock-tumbling my answer ever since, and of course it's complicated.  I realized that being a maker means a lot of things to me.  I make because I grew up in a household of makers. I make because I value beauty, and I make because I feel called to do so.

So, here's the first in what will be a three part series on my making journey.

Making is Heritage.

I grew up in a family of makers.  Both of my parents were artists and creators - my mother sewed and painted, my father was a photographer, a farmer, and a horticulturist.   I grew up in a house with a well stocked pantry, full of delights such as my grandmother's famous bread and butter pickles.  We made things.  We made for practicality, for frugality, for joy, for art, and for beauty.  The best things were made for all of these reasons.

My sisters and I all learned the love of crafting and making at an early age.  Lucy was a seamstress, and loved to try her hands at any other craft that caught her fancy.  Abby sews and takes gorgeous photographs.  When she was in high school she took a pottery class and made incredible things.

We were pretty broke (we were very broke.  We owned a family farm in the seventies.  It was dire.) so we didn't have a lot of the toys and things that the "other kids" had.  When I was about six or seven, Abby and Lucy made this incredibly elaborate Barbie doll house out of cardboard boxes, wallpaper samples, and scrap lumber.  They sewed my dolls intricate and adorable outfits (this was during the period that Abby taught herself how to sew with Mom's Bernina.  That adventure was not without incident).   I ended up with the best, most incredible set up for my dolls,  Being the baby was not without its advantages.

We make, it's what we do.

My parents and grandparents are no longer living -- but when I look around my home, evidence of their making is everywhere.

My mother toll painted the bucket on the right sometime in the 1970s.  My father took both of the photographs in the frame to the left.  Neither are particularly special in and of themselves... except they absolutely are.  That's my mom and my grandma caught in everyday, domestic tasks.  Making a household.  Years and miles apart from each other, but in the exact same pose.

This is the rocking chair I sit in while I'm knitting and back-seat driving Carl's video games.  It was built by my paternal great-grandfather.

I am lucky enough to own several pieces of Abby's pottery.  She made these in the 11th grade, y'all. When she was sixteen.

Are you starting to see what I mean?  I didn't even have to go hunting for any of these things -- they are just a part of my daily life.  (Well, I did have to grab the pitcher and plate out of my china cabinet... but that hardly counts.)

I can look around my living room and count seven or eight things that were made by my family, and several more that were made by me.

Making is heritage - and it's a heritage that I am proud to have passed on to my children.   Rhiannon and Morgan are both knitters, and both artists.  Morgan is also a musician (which is a kind of making that I know naught of, but she gets that from her father.)   Rowan has started baking.  His pretzels are a thing of beauty and wonderment.

Morgan is not amused by my picture taking shenanigans.  She's just trying to cast on here, okay?

So, in summary:  I make because I was taught that's what you do.  I make to honor my family, and to teach my children about making.

At least, that's part of my answer.
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