Sunday, May 4, 2014


The relationship between a mother and a daughter is complicated. Sometimes it feels like we are the same person and sometimes we are not even on the same page. 

My mother
My mother was gifted with her hands... she sewed everything she wore, she knit, quilted, crocheted, tatted, embroidered, re-finished antique furniture, wove baskets and did needlepoint.  

At 70 she learned to spin. Not satisfied with that alone, she carded and dyed wool and then spun the fleece into yarn. Finally, with her loom, she wove the yarn into fabric that eventually became a dress. It makes me tires just writing about it.
I think I was seven

My mother expected that I would follow in her footsteps. I tried... I really, really tried, but my heart wasn't in it. I sewed, I knit, I did some needlepoint... it all just seemed like a lot of work to me. It took me years to understand that my mother LOVED the PROCESS and I LOVED the FINISHED PRODUCT. 

Every stitch, every turn of the wheel gave her pleasure. And when the project was complete she would rest for maybe an hour only to begin a new one. She is what is known as an "artisan"  She valued quality and craftsmanship and things were somehow elevated in value if she made them with her own two hands.
six brothers    

My mother left this world without understanding the differences in our personalities and she was gravely disappointed that I didn't do the things she did. I grew up surrounded by a family of artisans and for a long time I wasn't sure where I fit.

My brother Don Bluth, maker of American Tail,
Land Before Time and Anastasia

Then one night my oldest daughter came home from one of her college evening classes where they had discussed personalities and  said, "Guess what... I found you."

"You're an Idealist. You see the world as you think it ought to be. You make it a beautiful place in your head not with your hands" 

Wow! If there was a name for what I am there must be others like me. I wasn't a failure I was just different. A genuine feeling of relief washed over me.

I am a dreamer and a lover of beauty. I am thrilled when someone else has the skill and patience to make something of quality... a piece of fine furniture, a photograph, a beautifully decorated room. When I go into a quilt shop I don't want to buy the fabric... I want to buy the finished quilts hanging on the wall. My artistic eye allows me to see it and appreciate it. My children laugh and say ...

"Our mom's not the worker bee... she's the designer bee."

With a new sense of value and an infusion of confidence I began to "fly"   Beauty, in all its forms, is everywhere and I am constantly on the lookout.  When I see something where all the elements are combined in such a way that the effect is stunning, it takes my breath away. I have come to realize that my talent lies not in the doing but in the recognizing. 

Now the interesting part of this story is that my daughter, who helped me to understand all of this, is cut out of the "same bold of cloth" as my mother.  She is an amazing "artisan"  with a real passion for piecing and quilting. My mother taught her some of it but when she stood in front of a huge quilting machine for the first time she instinctively knew what to do. There it is again ...