I grew up in northern British Columbia Canada. Mom was a working widow so we didn’t go to the lake or hiking much. Mom called me a house plant as I was always indoors. My siblings were all boys and much older, as long as I kept it safe I was pretty much allowed to keep myself entertained.
I remember having a big sandbox, and a little set of baking dishes. Mom had some extra appliances in the garage she was trying to sell I guess. Mom went to show them to potential buyers and I had used them to make mud cakes, they were decorated all pretty with clover and rocks in pretty designs. I had put them in the oven to let them “bake”. She didn’t get me hell, just told me not to use them anymore. I remember telling her I didn’t touch the knobs, I promise.
I liked ironing because my mom let me use her big girl ironing board. I would iron towels and put them all over the house to make things pretty. I loved to colour, do paint by numbers, and Spirograph. I baked cakes at six; except for taking them in and out of the oven. Mom bought me fancy sprinkles to decorate with. I entered a baking contest at my school and was disqualified because no one my age could bake like that. WE DIDN’T CHEAT, to this day I remember being teary and confused, thank god for my Mom.
Once I was eleven our little neighbourhood got a craft store. Boooyah….how I loved that store. Besides paint by number, plastic canvas, and rug hooking, I took up 3D foam art. I covered the fridge, washer, dryer, and anything metal with my oh so wonderful foam art magnets. I went on to doing the same with felt and made poinsettias, snowmen, trees, and reindeer. My Mom was patient with my home made treasures. She left me in charge of decorating and didn’t even wince at the 8 foot high candy cane I made out of painted wrapping paper rolls and red ribbon, special right for the front door entrance.
I was expected to do house chores, but in exchange I was allowed to do a lot of décor stuff. We had ironed embroidered cloths, sugar starched doilies, and artificial pane windows made with black tape and spray on snow and eventually painted window art.
I was an auntie by 9 years old, so now I had helpers. Using colouring books as guides, I found out I could do window art on cold days. At -40 fahrenheit paint freezes instantly on the interior of windows, it doesn’t run and works pretty well. Whoda thunk.
I went to catholic elementary school, one of the sisters made a draped nativity scene using rags and white glue. I was onto the next I have to do. I made a Jesus, Mary and Joseph nativity scene that was about 14 inches high. My Mom loved that piece, I wish I had pictures; it graced an honoured spot in our home for years. I still have that old pattern book.
In my teens I did some sewing, I made all my friends macrame friendship bracelets, hanging pots for family, and embroidery.
I was very ill during all my pregnancies, spent months in the hospital on bed rest. I wasn’t allowed to do puzzles because they were “too stressful” the doc said. That’s when I taught myself to crochet. My Mom knit, but I wasn’t patient enough to try and pick up those inevitable dropped stitches.
My brother Jim is a carpenter, when my eldest son was born; we designed a cradle with hearts cut in the head and foot and square slats on the side. I refused to use dowels so he lovingly cut each piece with tiny little wood spacers. My job was sanding sanding and bringing his coffee to the shop. Herman will say I do pretty much the same now.
As the boys grew I started to do cake decorating, my brother Ralph is a baker so I had inside assistance and coaching. I made icing roses, borders etc., but our favorite was a dinosaur cake and 3D train with chocolate covered oreo wheels, and licorice string tracks. I won a gingerbread contest making the northpole with a toyshop that lit up displaying tiny toys on shelves inside, and a Santa’s cottage complete with stained glass windows made from crushed lifesavers. After the contest I donated it to the boys school, they had a raffle each child got a ticket for having their homework done. The class with the most tickets got to eat the gingerbread.
By this time I was a working single Mom always figuring out how to make a dollar look like a hundred. I made costumes out of thrift store finds, and got very good at makeup using eyelash glue instead of agar to add werewolf hair, and skull faces. The boys were bats, dinosaurs, a spider made from a bodysuit with leotard arms. I bought all kinds of old furniture and took up furniture refinishing.
I spent a whole winter turning four mismatched chairs into stained coloured works of art. Rembrandt had nothing on me I swear. I saved these self proclaimed treasures until I had four finished.
I put out the chairs so excited at the big unveiling. Because of the size of my six foot munchkins, the chair joints were well glued. Unfortunately I hadn’t counted on the age of the wood; my chairs lasted about a month. They wood seams didn’t give out but the aged wood certainly did. I replaced them all with basic green plastic picnic chairs for the remainder of their years at home. They matched at least. So did the Mason jar glasses we used for glassware.
In spite of their size and rough and tumble lifestyle my sons did crafts as well. We spent Saturday’s making pom pom and nut animals for the Christmas tree. They made plastic craft coasters for presents, macramé and even embroidery.
After 25 years solo I now have a good man, a beautiful craft room, access to all kinds of supplies and the time to pursue interests. I feel blessed at being able to this, it took a long time. Crafting and décor have been my companions my entire life, they comfort me when sad, excite me when complete, entertain and interest me year around.