About Me

I am a 30-something working mother, artist and performer. I have been a professional puppeteer, a massage therapist, real estate asst, a high school French teacher...I'm always a dreamer, a maker, a do-er, a finisher of projects. I love Terry Pratchett, Jim Henson, the Muppets, David Bowie, Cary Grant, Carl Haiasan, 80s horror films, the 1st and 4th Pirates of the Carribean films, anything Hallowe'en-y, cats and Mello Yello.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My mother the muse...and fine example

Carol Ryall
I would like to inaugurate my blog on crafting and creative mania with the first crafty person I ever knew, my mother.  I cannot remember a time when she wasn’t making something and I think that is a formative aspect of my life. I find that a lot of my fonder memories of growing up were doing things together, making things.  All kinds of things.
We colored in my coloring books.  I recall that in her basement ‘studio’ she had a drafting board to draw on and I distinctly remember her stenciling phase.  A particular duck pattern is lodged in my memory from that era.   Mom taught me to do cross stitch and thus introduced me to needlework, which I would do off and on for the rest of my life thus far.  She encouraged me to play with creative outlets.  I recall some experiments in latch hook that no doubt left little 2 inch-long bits of yarn in the carpet for years to come.  She was…very patient.  She went all out for my first wedding with copper pipes and streamers and made beautiful ribbon trees to line the aisle.  I also have several of her photographs on my office walls from her photography phase.  She is something of a dabbler. 
As I sit here trying to consciously summon up these memories, I find that they come in waves.  She has an amazing nativity set that she cast and painted herself that I have always loved.  I still think it’s the prettiest one I’ve ever seen.   My youngest now has a lamp that my mom made for me when I was 4ish.  I remember decorating for almost every holiday.  At Easter we dyed eggs and decoupaged Styrofoam eggs with white glue and clear glitter for an Easter tree she had made.  I vaguely recall a ghost she made one Halloween out of a birdcage, a sheet and a jack o’lantern.  It was great.  And I vividly recall a great Halloween costume that Mom made for me – one of her few attempts at sewing clothing.   Probably her crowning Christmas creation is an insane piece of work that covers the front door that she did in the ‘60s – a 6 foot tall piece of green felt covered with tinsel in the shape of a Christmas tree!  She hand-glued the tinsel in little bunches until the whole tree outline was covered.  And it has lights and little red ornaments sewn in.  I have this piece now, which I handle ever so carefully!  I periodically think about refurbishing it…and then I decide that this idea is crazier than a hatful of spoons and move on to something else. 
I just realized that I could go on like this for a long while.  I think she’s amazing, but you know…she’s my mom.  I am just a touch biased. So let me now introduce you to my first mentor and inspiration, Carol Beth Adcock Ryall. 
Here is an excerpt from her website, Earth Available Realty
“I was born in Hickory, NC. We moved to Greenville, SC when I was two and then to Florence, SC when I was nine. I graduated from McClenaghan High School in Florence and attended Winthrop College in Rock Hill. I moved to Columbia in 1969 and have been here ever since.”
As you might gather if you bothered to follow that link, she is also gainfully self-employed as a Buyer’s Agent in real estate.  Take the hint, peek at the link.  I’ll wait. 
Welcome back.  Cute site, no?  What I have done here was ask a series of riveting questions and hope that my person of interest would answer them in a fashion that proves to be fascinating.  As you can tell, Mom is also my guinea pig…
When did you first discover or notice your creative spark? “ I loved to color as a little girl. Me too!  My favorite aunt, Bunny, aka Leesa, taught me how to blend the crayon colors and I went wild from there.  I had really nice coloring books with pictures with a lot of details to color and shade.  I haven’t seen what I would call a decent coloring book in years.  They all look like they are designed for 3 year olds and nobody beyond that age would be interested in coloring.  I think that’s a shame. The next thing I remember doing was drawing evening gowns for my paper dolls.”  I will also add in here that my endlessly delightful great-aunt Leesa is known for crocheting for days at a time and I think her afghans are something everyone in the family must have one of.  Or two.  Leesa also taught me to short-sheet a bed so I could ‘get’ Mom one evening. Tee hee!
 What forms of creativity have you explored?  My parents were not “crafty” and didn’t really encourage that side of my personality.  Whenever I mentioned wanting to grow up to be a “something” – clothes designer, interior decorator, architect – their standard answer was, “You have to be talented to succeed in that field.  You need to be a secretary.”   Um, harsh much?  It was only after I was grown and married that I had somebody say to me that something I had created was good.  But I have over the years dabbled in stenciling, sewing, crocheting and knitting, some paper crafts, some painting on glass,  ceramics, and I can’t even remember what all else.  Let’s not forget the cross stitch.  I don’t recall how old I was, but Mom designed cross-stitch patterns for a while and I thought that was so cool.  The family tree that she designed is still in my possession and one of my favorite pieces.  I think she called that endeavor Heart of Gold Designs.   
 What are you working on now?  The latest thing I have been doing is painting on wine bottles.  After we get moved, I want to develop that a little further and do some other types of decorating with the bottles. I am also crocheting afghans for all five of my grandchildren.
How do you fit it in with real life? I don’t very well - It has taken me a long time to feel free to do the things I want to do and not feel guilty, or like I am wasting time and I still have to work on that a lot.  I am always so impressed that while I spend a lot of time thinking about things I want to do, you just sit down and do them.  I hope that means I was able to nurture that part of your personality.  I totally understand that feeling that I’m wasting time, or feeling that someone else thinks I’m wasting time.  I love that I’m actively encouraged nowadays! 
 Is there a market for your creations or is it just for fun?  Or both?   I was hoping there would be a market for the wine bottles but I have not found it yet. We have jointly vended at local festivals and events at our zoo.  People loved the look of her work, but it did not move very well. 
What is your dream creation?  What is your dream for the future?   I have had a line of garden furniture in mind for several years, but I need to team up with a woodworker to get it done.  My dream would be to have a permanent spot to work that didn’t have to be cleaned or cleared up until I was done with a project.   Oh yeah, I think that is every crafter’s dream!  
I am happy to report that we continue the tradition.  My eldest daughter seems to be picking up knitting and/or crocheting – though not from me.  That is one of the few things I can’t seem to do.  My youngest is learning how to embroider and loves to paint.  We are a line of makers, creators, dreamers of designs and patterns, images of realization that traverse the generations.

Mom and me on her wedding day. 

1 comment:

  1. Such a wonderful thing to have a creative mother who can teach you and inspire and support you. That is a very blessed thing to have. I wish my mom was like that. Alaundra from sb