Wednesday, October 20, 2010

relda jane

I've previously written about my great-grandmothers Relda and Velda and how they serve as inspiration for my artisan goods. Now I'd like to introduce you to someone incredibly dear to me, my siblings, and my daughters. This person is none other than my mom, Relda Jane. She is the reason I consider myself an artist.

Doesn't "Janie" look adorable in these photographs? Perhaps I'm a little biased, but this little girl from Colby, Kansas is an exceptional painter, potter and all-around artist who has shown me (and now my daughters) the joy of being lost in the creative process. She has also taught me the value of craftsmanship.

Some of my happiest childhood memories are watching my mom paint in the kitchen late at night. There stood the easel in the middle of the kitchen and there my mom "dancing" with her brushes. She looked so radiant! She seemed invincible when she was painting or drawing or sculpting or baking. I'm thrilled she's joining me in the sketchbook project and hope to share some of her more recent work here very soon.

Growing up, we didn't have much money for new toys or the latest fashions, but that never stopped mom from showing us just how beautiful handmade could be. Like the time when she transformed a lining from an old coat into merry little bear ornaments. It was magical to watch her! Those bears have become one of the family's most-coveted heirlooms.

The family included a very proud father, a doting mother, three boys, and three girls. Fuzzy bodies. Whimsical embroidered expressions. Matching outfits. And they all came to life by my mom's hands.

Each Christmas my brother, sister, and I would fight over who got to hang the ornaments on the tree. It became a tradition to "talk" to the bears and shift them around the tree on the days leading up to Christmas -- I'm not entirely sure why. We repeated this "ritual" well into our teens and adult years. We all have such fond memories of the holidays because of these bears and mom's ingenuity. Thank you mom!

I wanted to share this particular story because it serves as the inspiration for the "Boxwood with Berries" ornaments I'll be making and selling very very soon in my Etsy shop. I have a stash of eco textiles that I really should use up and wouldn't it be grand if, once I send these ornaments out into the world, they bring a similar joy to children as mom's bears did to me?

Here's a sneak peek at what's in store. Thanks for stopping by and watch for my shop's Grand Opening announcement.

A few things about my eco ornaments:
  • Just as my mother did, I will handcraft each ornament and do so in small batches to ensure a high level of craftsmanship.
  • The inks I will use to stamp my "Boxwood with Berries" wreath block print will be non-toxic.
  • I will stuff each with earth-friendly kapok fibers to give them shape and sew in a loop of hemp twine for hanging.
  • To achieve the weathered look I'm going for, I will intentionally leave the fabric edges naturally frayed after cutting.


  1. Mandy, I am loving reading these family stories! What a fun tradition!

    Where do you find the environmentally friendly components, such as the fibers, fabric and inks?

  2. Mandy,
    What beautiful photos of mom. Love seeing the bear family all over and reliving such joyous memories. love sis, Denise