Monday, December 26, 2011

The roots of creativity

Gulp. It wasn't until I logged onto the blog this morning that I realized how long it's been between posts. All I can say is that it's been a busy few weeks at the studio given the extra holiday open studio hours, my last-minute decision to produce a calendar and a scramble to finish pieces begun before the holiday crush. It's also been hectic at home and I have to admit that I've spent more time away from the studio than I thought I would this month.

You know, decorating the house; shopping, wrapping and mailing gifts; going out to lunch, meeting people for drinks and heading to parties; and baking, baking, baking. I've made Christmas cookies since I was able to use my mom's Sunbeam mixer on my own. And I have never stopped. There was even a time when I saved up vacation so that I could take off the first  or second week of December in order to bake - just bake - and made dozens of kinds of cookies.

The list always included elaborately iced gingerbread made from my late mother's top-secret recipe. She taught all of us how to make soft, fragrant and delicious cookies that are as far from most people's experience with gingerbread as you can imagine. We rolled and cut them them out by the hundreds, creating a factory-style line for decorating them with vanilla-scented buttercream frosting, colored sugar and a wide range of candy.

Our family was large - seven children - and didn't have much money, so my mom focused on making things and teaching us how to make them, too. We crafted snazzy, sequined ornaments; learned how to knit and crochet; did our first drawings on seemingly endless rolls of newsprint my dad lugged home on the bus from his job as a newspaper pressman; painted tons of dry macaroni and strung it on miles of thread to make jewelry; built wooden fort after wooden fort after wooden fort; put on plays and hosted summer craft fairs; and - well - you get the picture.

I like to think that much of my art has its roots in those childhood experiences and in my mom's ceaseless creativity. She was restless, inquisitive and talented in ways that were often underrated in those days. I think she'd appreciate where life has taken me and knowing - wherever in the universe she may be - that she still plays a role in my creative life - whether I'm at home baking cookies or in the studio making art.

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