Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Heirloom Ornaments

This article  was scheduled to be published in FOLK Magazine Christmas 2013.  I have no idea what the publication status is and have cut ties with the magazine.  I came across this ornament as I was taking down my tree over the weekend, and I felt the need to share my Grandmother's story even though Christmas 2013 is now behind us.
If we are lucky as adults, we have ornaments from our childhood to pass on to our children.  If we are extra lucky, we have at least one ornament from our parents’ childhood to covet as our own.  It is in these small holiday tokens that live legacies of love and triumph.
My grandmother loved color.  Pink and teal particularly.  Style gurus of 1950’s homemakers had nothing on her.  She raised my mother in a Cape Cod style house my Grandfather built high on a hill overlooking the Shetucket River in Eastern Connecticut.  Her kitchen was done in teal tile, she served simple meals on bright Fiesta dishes, and baked the finest ├ęclairs in New England.   A silver tinsel tree was her signature Christmas centerpiece and upon it were hung the sweetest pink ornaments Woolworths offered.  Mingled in were blown glass ornaments my Great Grandparents brought with them from Czechoslovakia.  And in my Grandmother’s driveway a mammoth 1955 turquoise Buick was the envy of the neighborhood.   She would have to learn to drive it after my Grandfather’s sudden death when my Mom was only ten. Though years of transitioning from a homemaking queen to a single parent would bring difficulty, financial strife and resilience, that silver tree was finely decorated every Christmas as a testament to my Grandmother’s, and my Mother’s, strength to thrive.
Every December, I unwrap an ornament that once hung on my Grandmother’s tree.  I have only one.  I hold it to the sun as the light shines through the mercury glass and shadows tiny hand-painted blue flowers.  I snuck it away from my Mother’s collection one Christmas when I was home from college.  These were the precious bulbs stored in a tattered box with edges secured so many times the box was pretty much tape and dust.  Inside, the vintage ornaments looked like creamy curved marzipan treats peeking through time-thinned tissue paper.  My Grandmother passed away when I was a high school sophomore, before I had a chance to appreciate the lessons she often shared.  This ornament is feather light, delicate, ornate in its simplicity.  Just like my Grandmother.  Four feet ten inches and maybe 90 pounds after a hearty meal.  My Grandmother went to work in the Ponemah velvet mills after my Grandfather died.  She never complained.  Never cried where anyone could see.  Never gave the impression that a woman needed a man for anything.  Always preached love.  Always practiced determination. Always shone with bright color when most other women would have faded to black.
Over the years I have collected vintage ornaments to simulate my Grandmother’s collection, to hold dear the memories my Mother guards with old boxes in cedar chests. To share in the silent strengths that hang in the remains of love snuffed out too early. Pink ornaments now cover my own silver tinsel  tree. And as my daughter joins me in decorating, I share stories of my Grandmother, my Mother, and the Grandfather I never knew in hopes their legacies will fuel generations yet to come. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014 Vision

2014 is my year of vision. The year of open eyes, big dreams and making the ideas of 2013 the reality of 2014.  It is the year of not backing down just because I am new to the game. In 2014, I will be fearless.
In 2013, my word was listen.  I paid attention to other artists' and writers' experiences.  I listened to how they grew their businesses and saw parallels to my own journey.  At the start of 2013, I was overwhelmed with stunted growth, dead ends, and a story that seemed doomed to remain unwritten.  I stopped forcing creativity and let the universe guide me.  Everything I needed was within reach, I just needed the patience to hear the vital cues.  By October 2013, I was in high gear and ended the year not tired, but renewed.
One of the biggest shifts over the past year has been shedding my identity as a primitive folk artist and morphing into a softer, whimsical up-cycler.  I adore prims, but the genre became my cage.  I felt I had to create a certain way, with a defined look that was at odds with my creative vision. It was as if the universe was nudging change by dropping old cashmere sweaters in my lap at every turn and whispering, "Go ahead... a few cheerful softies wouldn't hurt!"  And so I listened. And how my heart sang! The first time I saw a child light up at my creation, I was a believer.  It was time to grow with the change.
And so I greet 2014 with a fond hello, a firm handshake and a confident look in the eye.  The journey ahead will require continued hard work and tireless hours, but oh the places we will go!
LOVE  &  2014!