A little bit of life, love, and artisan jewelry but mostly the

Home of the Confused Muse..

Where you will find the meadering thoughts of an actively artistic brain - as well as my latest creations, events, soapboxes, dramas, crisis, blessings, and life in general.

This is also the home of "ChrissyMarie Jewelry and Accessories", named for my daughter! Twenty-Five Percent of all sales from this line are donated to B.I.T.S. aka "Better in the Saddle", a local non-profit Equine Assisted Therapy Program ....because we KNOW horses help make miracles!


November 17, 2007

Buying Handmade for the Holiday Season

I made a pledge to buy handmade items for Christmas gifts this year. Why? Because I make handcrafted jewelry, my friends make handcrafted items, and I like the idea that we're keeping the artisan lifestyle alive here in the good old USA.

I don't think it really occurred to me just how far we'd wandered from our roots until I started talking to friends my age about things our mothers made when we were growing up. My mother, God bless her little heart, was the answer to a financially challenged household. My dad was a farmer and sold fertilizer. He was smart but not well educated. He made a good honest living and I was proud of him...still am as a matter of fact. But having said that, we weren't rich by any stretch of the imagination and Mom "made do" with what we had.

She was well known in the area for her skills as a seamstress. She made most of my clothes and all of my formals for school dances, etc....these are in hot demand now as Vintage gowns! She sewed for "working mothers" making them suits and dresses to wear to the office. But sewing wasn't all she did..

My Mom was well known for her skills in the kitchen too! She made the best pie crusts in three counties...at least. They were perfect, flakey, confections that just melted in your mouth but somehow managed to stay perfectly dry under a fruit pie filling or my favorite...coconut creme!

She did it all. She cooked, sewed, embroidered, knitted, crocheted, gardened, canned, you name it - she could do it and she did it well.

So while this might sound like a tribute to my parents, it's more about the attitude of the times and what she and my dad chose to pass down to us, the future buyers of America. I don't know many women who can make a really great homemade pie crust anymore. Most pies are "store bought" and the closest thing we get to homemade pie is the crust that you buy in a box, slap into a pie pan, pour in a can of pie filling, and bake in the oven. That's home baked but that's not homemade. My mom called it "scratch" cooking. I guess I never had the proper itch because I don't cook from "scratch" now. I still used her recipes though and I hope to pass them down to my kids.

I was looking at a dress pattern she used about 30 years ago for one of my formal events. It was an incredibly expensive pattern for those days - she paid close to $15.00 just for the pattern. Funny thing is, she completely redesigned the front of the dress for me. She could have made her own patterns and she did sometimes, she just used the "store bought" ones to save a little time. Her creativity just wouldn't allow her to "color inside the lines" even when she had a great pattern.

The talent she shared with me and so many others has not been forgotten. I hesitate to use her latest embroidered tea towels because I know they will likely be her last set. Yet, even though I seldom dry my dishes at all, I want my daughter to see the handiwork and appreciate it for what it is.

I'm tired of going to big department stores and buying what's cheap, disposable, and easily replaced. I want things in my life that mean something. I don't want to see my kids lose the ability to handcraft the things they love.

My husband is a talented and patient man...most of the time. He's smart and creative and he puts up with me...most of the time. He's taking the space in my basement that was formerly used as my son's bedroom and my laundry area and making a space for me to work, a studio of my own. He uses his hands (and power tools) and his brain to figure out what will work the best for me in a limited amount of space.
There will be handmade shelves on the walls, wonderful task lighting, and fresh paint.

I mentioned in a previous post that I have Fibromyalgia. I also have what my doctor calls an "Insulted Brain" from two previous craniotomies, Bacterial Meningitis, and a wicked Staph infection. I'm incredibly blessed to be alive at all. Having fingers and toes is a real bonus and that is not a joke! What I did lose was my organizational skills and I've lost some ability to remember both old and new information. I have become a scattered mind in a middle-aged body...that's kind of scarey for me.

Bless his kind heart, he is so much better at understanding what I need and how it needs to be made than I am. He knows that I need lots of storage space - but visible storage. If I can't see it, I can't remember I have it, and I won't use it.
Today he built shelves for me - open, contemporary shelves. Handmade. He thinks about the perfect drawer pulls that won't stress my hands and the ease with which my chair will roll across the floor. He integrates his skill with my weakness and is creating a place for me.

He is a craftsman. Like my mother, he has a vision of what he wants to do and he creates it. I envy that ability! What makes me even more proud? He is teaching our son to be a craftman in his own home. My son talks about building bookshelves ... not buying them. He does his own home repair whenever possible and his idea of a great visit from Mom and Dad? Taking time off from work so he and Dad can work on the house and he can learn new skills.

Pass it down. Not just the furniture and the "stuff", but the skills it takes to create them and the mindset that feeds creativity.

Later, I'll post photos of the progress we're making in my studio. I can hardly wait to get started crafting in that space. My space. Hmmm, sounds like some high tech internet thing doesn't it? LOL!

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