was a keen hobbyist, a craftsperson. She should have been a professional
but shied away from that. Somehow, being a professional
didnt seem like the right thing to do, especially when it related
to things like handmade art. I dont know why some women are that
way but they are, and I am too to some extent.
had any number of hobbies over time. She would catch a fever for doing
some particular craft. I remember seashell jewelry. These items were
made from tiny, little white shells from Florida dyed pink and green
and yellow, even purple you name it. Their chalky white surfaces
took well to pastel dyes. Clear plastic circles and ovals were used
as a backing whereon these tiny seashells were glued. Clear cement for
gluing the shells had recently become available to general hobbyists
back in the 50s, beyond their more specialized use for gluing model
airplane parts together.
tools and toothpicks and things Mother would meticulously torture and
manipulate these little coloured shells into various designs, often
as rose petals. The flowers could be large, taking up the whole backing,
or smaller, forming a bouquet of variously-coloured blooms.
an ephemeral art, because fragile. I was just on eBay seeking out old-time
shell jewelry and there were a few good examples there. Bidding for
them was fairly fierce. I was outbid twice on one shell jewelry collection
I had my eyes on. Oh well, I didnt really need them. It was just
for the memorys sake. Theres something about being on eBay
and rummaging in the western worlds attic that is curiously addictive.
Any hobby or craft from time gone by is out there, hanging on by a thread.
Collectors are a special breed and will traverse all obstacles in search
of the desired item.
phrase for collector is pack rat.
would spend hours making shell jewelry brooches. Im not sure that
she wore them much. The excitement was in the making of them, pulling
all the bits together to create a beautiful, artificial bouquet. It
was a conversation piece. My sister has told me that she
had the unjoyful task of peddling mothers shell jewelry, door
to door, to the folks in the Sprucedale subdivision suburb.
jewelry phase passed, making way for another fever. Some of these fads
lasted longer than others. She took up oil painting. Our family friend,
Moyna, would drive us out into the country in search of a good scene.
We kids would play around in the fields or, as often was the case, in
an ancient country graveyard where the tombstones made a good place
to perch while eating a picnic sandwich.
would sit on her artists stool with her easel in front of her
and paint. She painted a fair number of trees, trees were good. She
had talent. A professional artist once complimented her work as being
neat by which he meant well-composed and thought out, tidy and well-balanced.
She was very careful about her compositions. It gave her work a sort
of mannered style, but it was art. She ran out of storage space for
her canvasses and the less-favoured ones were stacked up on a high shelf
in the garage in back of the house. The better ones hung on our walls,
of course, or were given away as gifts but they were never sold.
later years she got into pottery, making pots and bowls and plates and
mugs, all kinds of things from clay and, again, she was very, very good
at it. She had been persuaded to initial her works at this point by
someone she had taken a course from. There are pieces of pottery all
over southern Ontario bearing the initial P.F., for Phyllis Fricker,
on their bottoms. They will be around long after most of us are gone
because pottery is rather durable. She worked with glazes and had a
kiln and wheel to do her pots on. Again, she refused the title of professional.
She was a weaver and made articles of clothing and rugs and placemats
and hangings. Her colour sense was a bit primary. She liked orange and
red. I think it was part of the palette of the 50s. Different eras have
different palettes. She had a beautiful four harness loom and other
looms. A whole room upstairs devoted to wool.
there is some wool packed up in my sisters basement which I am
supposed to take sometime because Guess what? Im
a hobbyist too and a craftsperson. My own fever, at present, is for
something called ATCs Artist Trading cards.
little 2" by 3 pieces of cardstock decorated with a montage
of vintage photos, ephemera, postage stamps, lace and other bit and
pieces. They can also be stamped with rubber stamps. They are to art
what sampling is to music. Some of them are hand drawn or painted or
digitized but, for the most part, they are accumulations of bits until
the whole is greater than the parts. Not unlike, in some ways, my mothers
© Sonia Brock 2008