An Artist's Life

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I don't often stop to consider the tools of my "trade" (nope, not those for my job in "corporate America", or my "jobs" as a wife, mother, gardner or home-keeper).  I'm talking about the tools used for art and crafting.

My bags, and boxes, and shelves of art and craft supplies along with countless books on various topics. The ones that reside (well, for the most part) in a single room in my house.  There are scissors, Exacto knives, paint brushes and ink pens, thread, and glue guns. Some date back to grade school and some belonged to my Grandmother before me.

Over the years, I've added tubes of paint, cans of adhesive, bottles of glue and glitter, scraps of leftover fabric, bolts and bolts of ribbon and more books. This collection of "stuff" allows me to pursue my passion. A passion that, at any moment, may change from wrapping a gift for a friend to sewing new drapes for my office, knitting a scarf or hand-pressing a clay's a part of who I "am".  Don't worry, the photo below is the "before" photo from the marathon studio cleaning session, with my friend Ann, in November (if you're still unsure, read the post here: ).

One afternoon just over a month ago, my friend, Chris, phoned me.  He is in the process of cleaning out his parents' home to make it ready for sale. He mentioned that he would be "finding new homes" for his mom's art supplies and asked me if I was interested in any of them. REALLY?!?!  Would I be INTERESTED in ANY of them?!?! COMEON!!!!!   I'm sure that not a single one of you who knows me or who is an artisan and/or crafter has any doubt about my answer, nor, I suspect, did my friend who is a guy that I've worked with and that I've known for more than 25 years. We go WAYYY back. Back to when I was young and single (oh wait, that's a DIFFERENT story).

This week, I met Chris to bring the supplies to their new "home" in my studio.

I didn't know Chris' mom but I did know that she had been an AMAZING seamstress, quilter and oil painter. It didn't surprise me when he told me that she had a "studio" in her home. Nor did it surprise me when he told me that she had done floral arranging, water colors, ink drawings and that she had also knit and crocheted (I'm somehow comforted to know that at least ONE more person besides me did "a little bit of everything" art and craft related).

What did surprise me was the depth and variety of her collection of patterns and supplies.  How amazingly well cared for and organized they were.  I sat on the floor of her studio for a couple of hours looking through a six foot tall shelf  that was filled with books and the single-most comprehensive collection of quilting patterns that I have ever seen.   I never even got to the second set of shelves.  There was also paper, and paint, and ribbon. Boxes of fabric and patterns, all sorted and labeled.  They were mine to look through, mine for the taking. 

At some point, as I looked around me, as I opened boxes and made stacks of books, I was  That, for me, was a humbling moment. The magnitude of the gift;  not only from my friend,  but from another artist. These were supplies from her lifetime, her passions. These were the tools of her "trade". Not those of her life as a wife, mother, grandmother, homemaker or any of the other things that she did so well, but of her life as an artist and a crafter.  

My car was filled and I'll need to make another trip to get everything home. Hugs were exchanged, thanks were given and I drove home, surrounded by reminders of the talents of a woman whom I'd never met.

I've spent the last two days integrating her supplies into my studio. As her paints take up residence with mine and her books find space on my shelves, I realize that once combined, they make a new set of tools and that I have the benefit of what she learned and explored to draw from as I go forward on this journey.  

I've also realized that, for most artists and crafter's, it's the "sharing" part of the creative process that's  the "best" part.  I fully intend to keep creating and sharing, using my new cache of "treasures" and honoring her memory.  I hope that some day, a long time from now,  I'll enable  another "artist" to do the same.