Thursday, April 23, 2020

Gifts from the Art(ists)

I've really been enjoying the collections various friends have shared on Facebook and Instagram during this pandemic, especially because each item is accompanied by a story. It's like visiting a personalized world library of art, toys, records, books, plants, pets, and more. So I thought I'd share ten things in my home that were either made for me or given to me by artists and crafters who are dear friends.

Ten because I can count that high on my fingers.

And sadly, some items I would've included are still boxed up somewhere deep in the garage, so they couldn't be included here.

In no particular order...

Item 1: 

It seems appropriate to start with a mask made by my friend M., who is a wonderful seamstress who regularly sews pillows and other items to give to care facilities. Her masks are little works of art. In a mask, you might not be able to flash a smile, but you can still flash some style.

Item 2:


These cheerful friends were designed and felted by my friend Eliel, whom I met
in my first year of college. Her menagerie of felted creatures is so vast,
they occupy a kingdom of their own. To describe Eliel, I can only return
the blessing she once bestowed on me, an adaptation from Charlotte's Web:
"It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Eliel is both.”
You can see some of her Felties on her website here.

Item 3:

You can never have too many potholders! Well--actually, you CAN have too many useless potholders, but my friend Lauri's potholders last forever. Not only that, but they're made entirely from repurposed materials. That is, socks! Lonely, forsaken socks that have lost a mate or otherwise been consigned to the dustbin of discarded textiles. The socks are carefully selected (for fabric content and of course general lack of grossness), thoroughly cleaned, cut up, and woven on looms into potholders that wear like iron. Check them out on Instagram here.

Item 4:

This little lady was given to me at my wedding shower. She was made by Irene,
sister of my mom's childhood friend, Leona Kaczmarek. She has perched demurely on our dresser for 30 years, stepping out on only one occasion, and that was two years ago when she attended my daughter's wedding and kept watch over the guest book.

Item 5:

This elegant horse was drawn by Alecia Barry Underhill, who illustrated my book
For Horse-Crazy Girls Only. It's a portrait of The Tetrarch, a freakishly fast horse who ran in the early 1900s, silencing the critics who initially laughed at his ungainly polka-dotted appearance. Visit Alecia's website to admire and purchase her beautiful artwork here

Item 6:


Once upon a time, I was lucky enough to be in a craft group made up of friends who met monthly in Seattle. The winds of change blew us in all directions, but the stunning scarf made by my friend Ruth remains here in the Northwest, reminding me of the lovely teatimes we shared. Ruth still makes beautiful felted pieces--you can read about them here  and visit her Etsy shop here.

Item 7:

This lovely bread board incorporates several kinds of wood and is oiled with Walrus Oil.
(Nope, not from walruses!) It was crafted by my friend Rick, who's not only a woodworker
but also the husband of my dear friend Elizabeth and the Expert Reviewer for a book I wrote
about the ocean. Check out Rick's work here, where you can also DM him because he likes to
make stuff and says that sometimes "you can acquire it." 

Item 8:

Sparkly! My friend Jayde created a beaded necklace with this unicorn, but I actually
obtained him to hang from my office bulletin board near a window, where he can twinkle in the
sunlight. Twinkling being something that unicorns excel at. Years ago, Jayde and I co-authored
a book about collectible German toys. Now she's busy wrapping wire and electroforming as she makes jewelry, which you can see and buy online here

Item 9:

My mom made this wreath for me about 25 years ago, filling it with the autumn colors I love. (She also made white and pink wreaths as decorations for our wedding.) Mom liked painting and using oil pastels, but she really enjoyed putting together flower arrangements and making beautiful Easter baskets and wreaths. I think she would've enjoyed being a florist and creating gift baskets. When she was in high school, she made pins and earrings out of shells and sold them to classmates. (My dad was an engineer and also a skilled craftsman who built wonderful things out of wood, but I don't have anything of his handy to photograph right now.)

Item 10:

My daughter draws wonderfully, and we have bins of her drawings of horses in my office closet, but I've chosen to share a little something she made when she was probably about 7 years old: a button string. We were reading the "Little House on the Prairie" series, and we'd just gotten to a story about Laura and her older sister tying assorted buttons to bits of yarn to make playthings for their baby sister. When my mom fell ill and went into hospital for several weeks, my daughter sorted out buttons in my sewing basket to make a button string for Grandma and one for me, too.

BONUS ITEM:

What is this?
Your guess is as good as ours.
It was made by my daughter when she was about 5.
Basically, it's part of an old sock with a piece of felt and several hair scrunchies sewn to it.
What does it do?
What is it for?
Does it have a hidden meaning?
A purpose?
Look upon it and ask, why!?!
We do.
Even its creator does.
That is, when she can stop laughing long enough to draw a breath and speak.