Even as a child I had a love of buttons, lengths of ribbon and lace, cotton reels and anything else I could find in Mum's sewing box. These little collections of notions were perfect for sorting and arranging. My favorites were the tiny little plastic novelty buttons - clowns, boats, ducks…. I thought they were truly precious.
I find that I have a lot of memories stemming from the "smell" of sewing. Mum has an incredibly heavy machine (by today's standards) that smelt quite strongly of sewing machine oil. It has a box of cams that goes with it. The cams fit into the machine to create what seemed to be a huge variety of stitches. Again, wonderfully smelly and perfect for sorting and arranging.
The cams below are vaguely similar to the ones in our "toy collection"
I loved giving the old Singer a good pedalling too, while breathing in the perfume of its timber drawers. Its funny how sensory memories can take you instantly back to your childhood. On a side note, I'm just wondering if anyone else used to lose their Singer pedalling rhythm and get their foot jammed. Ouch!
This little spool was given to me by the ladies at Bustles and Bows, in Surrey Hills, Victoria, to use in my project photography. How nice of them to go out the back to find it for me.
At the age of 8, I entered an Easter drawing competion in the local newspaper. I received what I thought was a pretty strange prize for a child. There were 3 or 4 edged, printed pieces of linen and a rainbow of threads to "colour in" the design. I remember giving it a go, but not what the end result was. Nevertheless, it is the earliest recollection I have of creating with a needle and thread.
Mum and Grandma were always knitting or sewing, even macrameing at some point (well it was the 80's), and I guess I gave it all a bit of a whirl. Thinking back, there were painted beads, knitting nancies made with a spool and four nails, pom-pom making, crochet, leather gum leaf necklaces, an intricate gingerbread house, lots of fimo…. but that's another story.
There were a few years of textiles at school, which led to alot of clothing construction attempts. But it was when living in Germany on exchange, that I first discovered Danish flower thread and cross-stitch on linen. All those muted colours… I was in love. I cross-stitched Christmas presents for everyone that year, complete with drawn thread borders and mitred corners.
My German host-mother, Sigrun, breathed creativity. She taught art therapy at a special needs school, but also lived an abundantly creative existence at home. I experienced craft like I had never seen. Familiar materials were being used in ways I wasn't expecting. Various colours of tissue paper were twisted and shaped,, before being sandwiched and glued between two sheets of very stiff transparent paper. This "stained glass" was then framed in bright card and displayed in front of a candle. As the candle flickered, the light shone through the paper, revealing a nativity scene from what had looked to me like screwed up paper. These creations were sold at one of the many German Christmas markets. She also hand-pressed little clay tiles, each with an impression of a leaf or something else from the garden. These were used to tile the shower! Huge, dark clay vases were made from rolled out slabs, left all torn and uneven at the top to represent the broken soil, from which the flowers would emerge. Christmas tree decorations were sculpted too. Most impressive, was when I watched her construct an enormous wreath from pine branches, to be hung from the rafters and set with four huge white candles for advent.
I guess you could say, like many other needlework addicts, I had no choice. I was immersed in craft, right from the start. There is no escape. I have resisted for brief periods in my life, but the ideas and the desire to play just keep on and on.…
Seriously, I'm really looking forward to seeing how my stockpile of ideas materialise. My aim is to combine different styles and simple techniques, in an effort to use normal products in a fresh way. In the next days, I'll share some photos of my first "One Day In May" design.