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Generations of Crafters

Generations of Crafters | General InfoMy maternal grandmother was a quilter (piecing and quilting all by hand). My maternal grandfather was a skilled craftsman but not in the modern sense. You see, my grandparents were born and raised in a time when reuse was the name of the game. Everything was used; everything was reused. The fabric from my grandmother’s quilts came from old clothing. The wood for my grandfather’s projects was from old construction. They were born, raised, and lived their entire lives on the Tennessee country-side. My grandfather was a tobacco farm sharecropper. He never owned his own farm. My grandmother grew, canned, and preserved much of the family food. There is so much I learned from them about treading lightly on the earth. They did it for survival – as a natural part of life. We still have and use several quilts made by my grandmother. I believe that quilts (even handmade) should be used. In years to come, my daughter won’t have my grandmother’s quilts to treasure, but she will have the memories of sleeping under those quilts. That’s what my grandmother would have wanted. I also love to quilt, though it is hard for me to find enough time to do large projects. I am not a great quilter, but I can piece and seam-quilt. Appliqué and fancy quilt stitching is not my forte. The most precious memory I have of my maternal grandparents is watching them at bedtime. They would both lay next to each other in their tall poster bed. Grandfather would cut pieces from cloth scraps, and grandmother would piece them together for her next quilt.

Moving up a generation, my mother learned to sew from her mother. She isn’t a quilter, but she is a seamstress. She sewed clothes for my sister and me for as long as we would allow. She also sewed lots of Halloween costumes, curtains, pillows, other household items throughout our childhood. When I began to show an interest in sewing as a pre-teen, my mother encouraged and helped me along. I took first place in a kids’ sewing contest at a local fabric store – a very proud moment. I don’t sew clothes anymore, but I have sewn a few Halloween costumes, curtains, pillows, and quilts. Fabric is one of my favorite materials with which to craft. I guess it’s the texture and variety of patterns and colors that I like.

My father was a talented wood craftsman, photographer, and writer. I think he learned woodworking mostly in woodshop class during a time when boys took woodshop and girls took home-making. Yikes! In my middle school, I was lucky enough to have both. It is a shame these classes have now been eliminated from most public schools, not to mention many other extracurricular opportunities. Woodworking was a hobby and stress-reliever for my dad. His first love was photography. He was a career military officer and photo-journalist in the Army. When he retired he started a commercial photography business. He is no longer on this Earth, but he lived long enough to see his two girls meet his three grand-children. Samantha, my daughter, is the youngest. My sister has one girl and one boy. Samantha is very close to her cousins. They are like sister and brother to her.

My sister and I have continued our family’s crafting tradition. We have each given our childhood experiences a unique spin, making our creations personal to us and meaningful to our children. My sister is a gifted scrapbooker. Now, I’m not just talking about someone who likes to put photos and stickers on a page. She truly has the eye for creating amazing pages and albums. I also like to scrapbook, but I don’t have near the talent she does. I hope my daughter will forgive me when she is old enough to compare her scrapbooks with her cousins!

Every member of my family was a teacher. My mom was a librarian at my elementary school, my dad taught college courses in photojournalism, my sister was a special education teacher and is now the technology specialist for her school district, and I still am a middle school science teacher. Education and crafting are truly in my blood, and I love to infuse crafting into my science classroom. Kids (even big ones) love crafts, and they learn by seeing, feeling, and doing. Crafting creates memories long after the glue has dried. In years to come, my students may not remember the parts of a living cell, but they will remember the brilliance of its organization because they created a Shrinky Dink cell model key chain for their backpacks. Even more important, they will remember the fun they had with their classmates and teacher.

I need to tell you about one more person in my life that has truly influenced the creation of Mini Me Crafts. I am a life-time Girl Scout. From Brownies to Seniors, I grew into a young woman wearing a Girl Scout uniform. The people, experiences, and awards all shaped who I became. As a Cadette and Senior Girl Scout, my leader, Ms. Criswell, had the uncanny ability to let us grow and develop into young women at our own pace in our own way. Her gentle, accepting guidance was something that I was only able to appreciate as an adult looking back on my time with her and our troop. She hated camping! Yes, hated it! On the one and only camping trip she went on with us, she screamed at the top of her lungs when she saw a roach in her tent. We all had a good laugh at her expense, but she was a good sport. From then on, we stayed in homes and cheap hotels when we went on trips with her.

Now, Ms. C was a serious crafter. She cross-stitched when this type of needlepoint was very popular. At every meeting, we would sit around her big dining room table, and she would always have a craft for us to work on while we talked troop business. As a teenager, I hated crafts, and it was the troop joke that I hated crafts and was in a “crafting” troop. Besides selling Girl Scout cookies, our troop raised money for our trips and events by hosting a huge arts ‘n’ crafts fair at the local mall. We had a booth to sell our troop crafts, but the big money came from renting booth space to other crafters.

When her “girls” were grown and scattered, she opened a Cross Stitch shop in my hometown. And, yes, I have thanked her for her influence. She now knows that her patience paid off, at least for me. In some ways, I feel like I am following in her footsteps.
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