Thursday, 10 June 2010

Growing up with Handmade

Hi, this is Anne-Marie from ByAmor. I grew up in the seventies, the era of space hoppers, bell bottom flares and platform shoes. Handmade, homemade and home baked were the norm and special treats were Angel Delight, Smash Potato and Farola pud (but not together.)
My multi-skilled mum made our clothes, accessories, and many of our toys. The house was bursting with her work from curtains and table linen to the telephone table and shelves. Turning her hand to a wide range of crafts, from wedding cakes to woodwork, she inspired her four daughters to develop our own talents.
Newly wed in the mid 60s, she made most of her own ‘dowry wardrobe.’ She said that before getting married a girl should have a full closet of clothes so her new husband wouldn’t have to buy her any.
We weren’t Angela’s Ashes material, but long before ‘’recycled’ and ‘upcycled’ were buzz words, my mother re-purposed everything with ingenuity. Her pin cushion was a scrap of carpet underlay, rolled up and stitched together simply.
Laddered nylons never went straight to the bin. One (washed) leg would be stuffed with scraps of cloth and decorated with buttons. And voila, a draft excluder! Or she’d save the end bits of soap in a cut-off piece of stocking, until there was enough to tie it up for a soapy scrubby for washing delicates. Most of our clothes were hand knitted, sewn or crocheted. Even the clippie in my hair was fashioned by Mum. When I was a bit older she taught me to make easy hair clips using flowers cut from old lace. I thought I was the business in this poncho and skirt, even with the clashing mustard bag. My sisters also sport handmade creations including the shawl.
Ok, I fess up, the hair cuts were also courtesy of Mother’s scissors.
She made a lot of our soft toys. Attending wood work classes at the Lady’s Club, she even made toys and furniture for our play room. Sadly, I don’t have a pic of the massive dolls house she built but here is the ghost of some Snoopy shelves. The ends were painted like Snoopy, the cartoon dog.
Alas, in her rebellious teens, my youngest sister whited out poor Snoopy’s features. The attic door (open behind) got an artistic makeover about the same time.
A prolific and industrious crafter, macramé was yet another art Mum delved into.
We all sewed, knitted and embroidered.

At one stage I tried to make shiny gems out of beach stones and nail varnish. I messed up Mum’s polish so badly, she bought me enamel paints and I made paperweights and ornaments. I couldn’t believe it when I found this hideous one still among the flower pots.I made this blue skirt myself, with a little help. My colour co-ordination was a still bit off. The pink shirt was, of course, sewn by Mum. When I hit my teens shortly after, crafts grew with me and I embroidered everything denim with dragons and symbols. I also made headbands from braid and wore them across my forehead, trying to be a rock chick (sorry, I was way too cool to be caught on camera in the 80s.)My sisters still knit, crochet, sew and/or paint.The youngest studied design and went on to create her own funky label before switching careers into Management. Aptly, the label was my mother’s maiden name, Mitchell. I still wear this shower proof hoody.A couple of years ago we decided to revive handmade Christmas in the family. Taking the time to make our gifts put the holiday back in perspective. Even the mistakes, and some ingenious cheating, crack us up each year.As for Mum, in her golden years she has taken up painting classes. Even when studying the masters, she applies colour with her own vibrant intensity. I wonder if she sees the world in hues nobody else can?I no longer paint stones with nail polish, preferring real gems for my jewellery and accessories, available at ByAmor

17 comments:

  1. Beautiful, inspiring post! Thank you for sharing your childhood and especially your mom with us!

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  2. Anne-Marie this post is such a delight! I just loved reading about your family's handmade ways, and seeing the wonderful things your mother made reminded me of my own Mom and Granny's craftiness too. It's easy to see where your talent came from, thanks for sharing with us.

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  3. The most Beautiful post I have read in a long while. What a gifted family with wonderful talent.
    Well done Ann-Marie!
    It's Fabulous :)

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  4. Thank you ConsciousCrafts, Magpie and Button and spiralgoddess for your lovely comments. i always knew my Mum was very talented but writing this made me appreciate just how much she did for us.

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  5. I love this post! I want to go mad and make EVERYTHING now!

    Sarah x
    wrappedupwithstring.blogspot.com

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  6. Sarah I'm glad it's inspired you! I want to take up embroidery again after remembering all this, but I won't be doing dragons on denim...or maybe I will....:-).

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  7. Just loved your post - Brought me back to my youth too..... Great family traditions being carried through the generations.... You should consider expanding your story and writing a book????? I know I would love to read more.
    Well done
    Mo

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  8. Beautiful story Anne-Marie ;o) reminds me of my own mam ;o)

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  9. Beautiful interesting post, i just love real stories xxx

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  10. I found your post endiring and inspiring. Just goes on to show how family is important, no matter what. I wonder something though, could it be that craftiness actually runs in the genes?
    vivibijoux.etsy.com

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  11. I love this post Anne-Marie!! Thanks so much for contributing it!

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  12. What a fabulous post! It's made me miss my own mother a bit.
    It's such a gift to instill an appreciation of handmade, homemade, thoughtful gestures.

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  13. This is a fantastic post! My mum used to sew a bit but her main craft was knitting. Our old family photographs have so many examples of her work! After she died last year I found that she had kept some of her handknitted dresses and sweaters from the 60's onwards. They're now safely stored by me. I love your mum's kingfisher painting :)

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  14. Thank you all of you for your kind comments. Griselda, sorry to hear about your Mum. I'm sure you have precious memories.

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  15. Una O'Rourke14 June 2010 at 12:29

    Anne-Marie I love this article, even if some of the photos really make me cringe - makes me proud to be one of the clan!

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  16. Anne-Marie love the trip down memory lane, it reminds me of my own childhood. With 3 brothers and 3 sisters neutral coloured knitted jumpers were very popular so we could all wear them!

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  17. I just love that this article has triggered happy memories for a few people.

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