Friday, June 19, 2009

Growing up in the fifties I learned crochet from my grandmother, sewing from my mother, and knitting from a neighbor.

In the sixties I got my degree in psychology and education, married, worked as counselor and disability specialist for social security. I did macrame, hairpin lace and broomstick lace on my noon breaks.

In the seventies, I put my husband through dental school and we took classes in weaving, spinning, and dyeing. He built several looms and spinning wheels for me. We moved to a very small town in rural South Dakota where we raised two kids and had angora rabbits for 4-H projects. I pulled hats out of rabbits, gave piano lessons, collected antiques at farm sales, demonstrated pioneer crafts and continued to sew.

In the eighties, I returned to full time work as an activity coordinator in a 71 bed nursing home. I became a certified master gardener in order to provide a more natural environment for my residents and to involve them in projects that they had enjoyed at home. I used my music, art, counseling, and crafting as if I had been preparing for this job my entire life.

Through the nineties I learned batik and silk painting and studied garment construction with hand wovens. I took drawing lessons and saw my kids off to college. My brother and his wife, Judy, retired from the Air Force and moved close to us. Judy has enjoyed a long career as a potter and visual artist and she needed a studio to pursue her interests.

In 1999 we bought a hundred year old brick building on main street and opened the Art and Antique Gallery as an empty nest project. She was the art. I was the antique. We gutted, restored, painted, and polished and our building is now on the National Register of Historic Places. We had a gallery and a studio. Judy also taught classes and did custom framing and matting. We mentored several youngsters and provided a meeting place for area artists. My mom asked us to build her an apartment in the second floor above the studio. She moved in several years ago and we love having her as an integral part of our lives and our business. At 85 she still enjoys quilting and visiting our studio.

With the millennium, I read "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron and started journaling. I wrote a "bucket list" and traveled to Italy, Greece, France, and England. My brother and I studied lampworking and put a bead bench in the studio where we made soft glass and borosilicate beads in several styles. I began designing jewelry and studying textile techniques in sterling wire. In 2007 I happened to visit the International Quilt Show in Houston and spent 5 days haunting the aisles of vendors and exhibits. The journal quilting project was a revelation of biblical proportions to me. Here was a foremat which could encompass all my interests.

As I look to the future, I am accumulating electronic equipment (a Bernina Artista with embroidery module, a laptop, and a printer/scanner) I have another studio for these tools in my family room at home. My shared studio with Judy has become more of a painting, framing, classroom, library and lampwork studio. I have furnished another room on the second floor next to my mom's apartment for my fabric, thread and my antique sewing equipment collection.

The collections of my life have become an educational vehicle. Now I use my trunks and suitcases to present programs to small groups. Topics can vary from aprons to underwear, vintage needwork and lace, Lewis & Clark, trade beads, feed sacks, hats, shoes, jewelry, pioneer crafts, post cards, building restoration, silk dyeing techniques, sewing and fiber arts, to name just a few.

With the advent of hi speed internet, I am able to network with other artists who share my interests and I continue to learn something new everyday. I view my work at the nursing home as a religious calling. It includes helping people who are like family with end-of-life issues and providing a stimulating social environment for them. I get to use my art to bring pleasure to others. It is a beautiful life.


  1. Awesome! It has definitely been an interesting life, huh?

  2. Hi Catherine, Thanks for stopping by and subscribing to my blog. I am following yours also. Keep in touch. Love, Carol