Wednesday, August 31, 2011
The coolest thing for me was going into her scrapbook room. Oh my goodness, there were always so many fun things to play with, and feel, and look at. Sparkles and beautiful papers, multicolored inks and intricate stamps, die-cuts and markers and stickers galore. I always wanted to grab whatever I could get my hands on and create my own beautiful pages, but the supplies were off limits until I was around eight.
We had just gotten back from Mexico, and instead of watching my mom create the memory book of our vacation, she allowed me to help. I was able to decorate certain pages with my own combinations of stickers, and I was allowed to do all of the writing about our trip (which of course makes the pages look pretty messy to my eyes today). However, I love looking at that book and seeing the combination of my work and my mother's work together. :)
Glass. The slick silver sheen running smooth between two small hands. The first memory I have of my great-grandfather, a man who is going to be 97 in November, was handling these panes in the garage of his home in Hot Springs. He had a glass working shop, where he created various mirrors, magnets, clocks, pieces of artwork crafted entirely out of mirrors.
Before my great-grandfather’s macular degeneration got the best of him, I would spend days I wasn’t in school at his house (as a single parent, my mom was often working these holidays and summers). A majority of the time at his house would be spent in the garage/shop. At first, all I was allowed to do was help hand him glass and watch in doe-eyed eagerness as he worked.
He would sand the edges of rough glass, silver it, and then it would become a work of art. It was too hot or too cold, depending on the weather, and it often smelled: a bit dirty from being outside, a bit stale, and a distinct odor that as I grew older I came to associate with “science happens” as he silvered pieces of glass. I remember helping him chip the edges of finished mirrors into a scalloped pattern. Huge circles or small magnets, he would set me in his lap, my youthful smooth against his weathered farmer’s hands, and we would chip the edges of the glass.
As I grew older and got generally steadier, he would let me chip the glass myself. Sometimes we would spend afternoons drawing on the refrigerator magnets (flowers, Bible verses, funny sayings) with vibrant paint pens or assembling clocks or mirrored mosaics, or even once a glittering lamp. My favorite mirror working activities involved etching, though, which added a completely different smell to the mix. We could etch chemically, which often had a pungent odor, or by hand with a Dremel tool that had a loud sharp sound.
Unfortunately, my great-grandfather no longer has the ability to do the mirror work he used too. The shop, however, sits in the unused half of the garage, collecting dust and serving to spark memories of these hot summer days and cold winter afternoons I spent crafting with him.
This might not be much of a craft, but one year in elementary school--it must have been second or third grade--we made Christmas ornaments. It's a pretty simple concept, really (kind of embarrassingly simple to be posting on a knitting blog; but hey, it's a fond memory, so shut up): take a crayon, glue some googly eyes and a puff of cotton on it, then stick some glitter on there and you've got a little crayon-Santa staring at you wide-eyed as you hang it on the tree with some gold thread as if you're sentencing it to death.
My crayon-Santa is purple. It's always been my favorite color. It made a pretty crappy Santa--everyone else chose red or maybe green--but I didn't care. Actually, I didn't care about the thing much when I first made it. Everyone had to do it, so it lost its appeal.
The real reason it means a lot to me is that my parents kept it. It still gets hung on the tree every year, even though the makeshift beard is falling off. I don't know how the eyes are still attached; we must have had industrial-strength glue in our classroom. But the point is, it's still stored in the garage with all of my grandmother's Russian ornaments, the wooden cabins and the metal etchings, the little figures my mother painted when she was a little girl. How the hell my purple Santa thing is cool enough to be associated with those is beyond me. And that makes me feel pretty special, honestly.
My parents do their best to keep all the little crafts we made, whether they're poorly-spelled Valentine's Day cards and letters to Santa, pandas made out of paper plates for Earth Day, or glitter-coated sheets of construction paper we gave them for Mother's or Father's Day. We like to take them out and laugh at them, but I suspect that for my parents it's more than a laugh. It's a fond memory of a time when we were still (mostly) sweet and innocent. And now we're all out of the house (again, mostly) and only see each other for holidays. Maybe that's why they treasure the holiday items we made so long ago the most: they knew it'd be our favorite time of year for another reason than presents someday.