When I was little and stayed home sick, there were some very specific things I liked to do. I liked to get out all my mother’s issues of 100 Idées (my all-time favorite magazine) and I would leaf through them, dreaming of building tree houses, embroidering blouses, hosting tea parties, and mailing letters with envelopes painted to match the stamps. After reading the magazines, I would organize them; stacking them first by month, then chronologically. Neatly.
I would move on to her sewing box, which was a brown Tupperware container with a removable divided tray. She had a pincushion with a band of elastic so she could wear in on her wrist while sewing. It became threadbare from use and she replaced the fabric on top with a scrap from a skirt she made for herself, and passed on to me a couple of years ago:
I liked to take her glass-headed pins and stick them into the cushion, placing them where the pinheads matched the colors in the fabric as closely as possible. A mosaic on the surface. Then I categorized her buttons: by size, by color, by number of holes… those that were loners, and those that came in multiples.
We have a home movie of me, age 6, sewing beads onto fabric. Thirty years later my whole life is built around making things from beads, yarn and cloth, which makes me wonder why I ever bothered questioning my life path at all? Maybe it just takes a while to accept the six-year-old’s passions.
I think it’s time I reread Daybook by Anne Truitt. I think I remember her quoting the sculptor David Smith saying that it takes fifteen years to make an artist. It seems to me that it’s taken that long to get over my schooling, and to give in to who I am. A long beginning.