Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Background of a Passion

         Some of my earliest memories as a child were sitting besides my maternal grandmother’s sewing machine and watching her doing her intricate embroideries. And I’m not talking about one of those preprogrammed computerized embroidery machines. It was an old 1920s foot operated Singer with beautiful wrought iron legs. I was mesmerized by the synchrony between her feet, rhythmically moving back and forth to set the machine in motion and her hands constantly sliding the embroidery hoop within a barely visible range of motion, to form the impeccable stitches with which she created her exquisite embroideries.

My Grandmother /at the front/ at the Singer Embroidery School 1924

         On another day I’m quietly waiting in the corner of my other grandmother’s ground floor room where she is counting and stringing hundreds of strands of yarn and winding them on the warp beam, prepping them to be stretched on a loom and woven into colorful rugs and cloths while chatting and exchanging the newest gossip with the women from all over the county who are here to rent her skills.

Couple of blouses my grandmother made for me in my early teens

         Later that same day I’ll go out in the yard to watch my grandfather soaking planks of wood and slowly and patently shaping them and putting them together to build a strong and nice smelling wooden barrel.
         There were times when I patiently had to wait for the little wood burning stove to heat up so my other grandfather could melt the little pot of gold he needed to cast his jewelry. I still remember the awe I felt every time when later on he would open the mold and pull from inside a piece which minutes ago was just a shapeless molten liquid and now was a cast piece that already had the outlines of a ring, pendant or a bracelet.

A pendant from my grandfather, present for my graduation
         Still fresh in my memory are the countless evenings when after dinner I’ll sit and observe my mother doing her cross stitch embroidery, crochet or knitting while listening to her teaching me how to make the stitches more even and precise or how to hide the knots and ends so the back of the work looks almost as nice and neat as the face.

One of my mom's embroideries

          How can I even begin to express the pride I felt at the openings of my father’s gallery shows? After all I must have had contributed something to his art works too. Didn’t he tell me that I’ve been the inspiration for some of them. Didn’t I follow him faithfully to each gallery or museum, soak in every word, memorize every image.

Couple of my dad's artworks

          Since my earliest memories are from the age of three, by the time of my maturity I had plenty of time to cultivate my love and passion for art, fine hand made objects, artisanship and compassion for all the dying crafts that have adorned our lives.
          For centuries people have been using every spare moment to create all the little objects that fill their homes and their lives, paying equal attention as much to the practical as to the esthetic aspect of them.
          Nowadays the evolution of new technologies and know haws has brought millions of improvements to our lives, but at the same time we began loosing the beauty which all those hand crafted items carry. Nobody will question the superiority of industrial design and cost effectiveness of mass production, but can they replace the exquisite charm, finesse and warmth of the masterfully crafted piece bearing the mark of a talented artisan.
           I feel very fortunate to know and be surrounded by many artists and craftsmen, who keep preserving and perfecting their chosen medium, but beyond this circle, I see an increasing amount of people who are completely ignorant about the skills and effort needed to produce even the simplest item.
           I’ve devoted a lot of my time to the fascinating journey to immerse myself in the work of many artists. During my visits to the museums and galleries in every place I’ve traveled to, during all my searches in libraries and websites I’ve developed an immense appreciation of everything that comes out from under the dexterous fingers of a man. I felt like a privileged guest invited to enter their world in attempt to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


         I’m not much of a writer and always have great difficulties expressing my feelings or point of view on paper. Sometimes when I’m interested in a particular subject I can talk about it for hours, but put a pen in my hand and I can hardly manage to put together two or three lines on the page.
         One of the hardest tasks that I remember from my youth was writing letters. Since that was the Dark Age pre cell phone and Internet and I didn’t always have an access to a phone, I was supposed to write letters. Believe it or not at that time I considered three days of hard manual labor a piece of cake compared with writing a couple of pages to my parents.

/ Bits and pieces from my artworks /

         I’ve loved the idea of blogging fascinated me from the first time I’ve read one, but it took me quite a long time to get over my fear of writing. So, in the end I decided to meet the scary task half way. I’ll write some of the posts to present certain subjects and share my own thoughts, but on other occasions I’ll just reprint articles and excerpts from other publications that already studied the same subject /God help me to escape an arrest for that/. I’m also hoping to find other contributors who will be interested to write something on their area of expertise.
          I’ll be honest. I started my blog because I needed to connect with people who are on the same page as me. I had nobody to talk about the things that bring so much joy to my life, the things I like to create, the ideas I feel so passionate about. I need to share all of them with someone who feels the same. I love talking to just about anyone, anytime… especially about their artwork and from where they find inspiration. It was something that I had to begin for myself. Even though my friends and family had always been very supportive and encouraging, they are just not on the same page.
         For years I’ve been trying to find some sort of a forum with lots of visual presentation of arts and crafts, which isn’t reserved mainly for professional publications. I’ve wanted this forum to appeal not only to professionals and seasoned crafts people, but also to the next generation wanting to learn more and be part of this scene, part of the creative process, part of preserving our heritage and traditions.
         Finally I found out that a blog can be the perfect forum for the moment. A contemporary form of mass communication that provides the perfect opportunity to both reach a broader audience and provide me with an easy tool for sharing my ideas.
         I’ll begin my journey of putting my ramblings about my life, art and my passion for everything fiber and textile in this journal with one of my favorite quotes:

         “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, whit great vision, whit a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”                                                --Woodrow Wilson                                    

/ Bits and pieces from some crafts and millinery /