Since childhood I have had a creative streak. Something I think I may have gotten from my father and if he were alive today I’d ask him when he saw it in me. For sure I raised eyebrows when I asked Santa for an Erector Set! I was a girl and that was a boy’s toy but no one denied me my request and Santa delivered. You could make lots of things and the possibilities were endless in my 7 year old brain. Next came the ” Monthly Kits ” I begged to get a subscription for my Birthday. Dad came through and shortly after my Birthday the first kit arrived. It was a piece of black velvet and some paints. I sat at the kitchen table and painted pansy’s on the velvet. Dad next to me ” reading ” his newspaper. When I had finished he admired my work and said he loved it. A short time later I went back to my Barbie doll and moved on. Days later I found it in his car attached to the visor.
Fast forward a few decades and there I was internally missing something. There was another me somewhere and I felt a compelling urge to find her. I took ceramics classes and felt uninspired, I took a drawing class and felt quite inferior, I tried needle stuff like embroidery – still nothing. One day while wandering a craft store I happened upon some rubber stamps, paper and embossing powders. Picking up the basics I went home and tried my hand at that. Okay, it was cool. I played for a few weeks and then two of my sisters mentioned a local store and suggested I go check it out. I did and was instantly attracted to all they had to offer. I took classes, all kinds of classes on technique, pencil, backgrounds, watercolors, postage stamps and books. Books. Handmade Books. Binding styles. Folding styles. I was on it and there was no going back. In the years following I have created many handmade books, tried many different binding styles and paid attention to the person inside. A large hitch around 2003 – 2005 – my life as I knew it shattered into a million pieces. Fragments of which are still gone. I was forced like a tornado into a completely different world. At first I was in denial, then I was kicking and screaming and lastly I broke. I was empty, in a deep depression, unable to function and unable to make a single decision or complete a thought. It was to say the least my darkest hour. Then fate, God, my father above, the universe – someone stepped in and I was hired as a packing/shipping/account manager for and artist couple I knew from my old neighborhood. Cheryl and Don breathed a bit of life back in to me. They took me in to their world of art and in to their hearts. I could breathe just a tiny bit but it was a step forward. Shortly after I found myself laughing one day with Don. I actually cracked a joke and he actually laughed. It was a moment. When I wasn’t there hiding from the world, I was in an apt someone had offered me to stay in hiding from the world. There was room for a studio and all of my supplies were there. I puttered and played, tested and tried. Cheryl asked me to bring in what I was working on, she was genuinely interested to see my work. Sheepishly and apologetically I entered her domaine with my piece. Waiting to hear the inevitable ” that’s nice ” comment, I was shocked and amazed at what actually was said. ” Oh my God! That is so beautiful! ” Sure I hadn’t heard her right I must have had a stupid look on my face because she put her hand on my shoulder and said ” I mean it “. It was then that Cheryl took me under her soft, big, warm and loving wings. She made suggestions of how to move from ” craft ” to “art”, gave me things around the studio she used in her work. She’d come back from Art Show’s and bring me all kinds of goodies from other artist’s she knew. Cheryl knew I had an affinity for handmade paper from around the world, Japan, Thailand and especially Italy. She shared some of the most beautiful Marbled Paper from friends of hers that had traveled to Italy to learn the ancient techniques from the Masters. Her hands were always reaching towards me with some kind of goodie. Every now and then it was a $20 bill with the words ” I know you need this.”
As time went on and it came closer to my having to leave them my heart sank deep. I couldn’t figure out how I was going to leave that security that love and step out yet again into the unknown. Without them.
But I did and here I am years later, alive, mostly well, living and breathing. I love my job working with animals and the people I work with. It’s a part of me that must be. It is what I am and what I do, painful, heartwrenching, joyful and rewarding. At the end of my work day I honestly feel I’ve made a difference.
The Other Me is also alive and well. My time with Don & Cheryl defined my future. This week I find out where my Starbook II entry landed in the local Library’s contest of Art of the Book. I am so happy with my entry but doubt that it will get any kind of recognition. That’s okay, I made it, I did it. https://mountaingypsy.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/7-days-of-crazy/
As I sit here finishing this post I want to say that I owe much to Don and especially Cheryl, who put her arm around me and whispered “run”. She knew the Other Me better than I did and to her I will forever be grateful.