Elmer’s Glue and Googly Eyes

31 Oct

This weekend I traded linen and wool for Elmer’s glue and googly eyes. While her little brother napped, my six-year-old niece and I pulled out some jars, glue, googly eyes, tissue paper, and gauze, and set to work on some halloween lanterns. I had spotted the idea in some magazine and immediately thought of her. I gave her the basic rundown on how to use the glue to decoupage the tissue paper on the glass jars to create an orange pumpkin lantern, but she quickly revised the method, adapting it to her own preferences. This girl started making things pretty much as soon as she got her paws on a crayon, and she’s had her own opinions since long before that. I love working alongside her, and occasionally get this little swell of joy over the fact that I have such a creative niece who is lucky enough to be surrounded by a crafty and creative family. Her dad works in theatre and builds furniture on the side, and her mom’s brief stint as a costume designer was just one chapter in her crafty life. 

My siblings and I grew up with handmade costumes, quilts, christmas ornaments, and the occasional piece of clothing. My mom was an avid sewer, and our aunts were knitters, canners, and crafters. Our tiny school, from first through eighth grade, didn’t offer home ec, but there was no need. During middle school, my mom attempted to teach both my sister and I how to cut out a pattern and sew a simple piece of clothing. I’m not sure that either went very well- I don’t think either my sister or I stuck it out to a finished product, but I think we also both walked away with the foundation of our sewing careers which would start much later. 

When we were very little, my sister overheard our mother remark to an aunt that I was “the crafty one,” but the truth is, while I was wandering the aisles of the local Benjamin Franklin craft store and gluing random items together and calling them gifts for my unfortunate family and friends, my sister was dabbling in oil pastels, cross stitch, painting, and pottery. My projects were signed with gluey fingerprints. My sister’s were signed carefully with her neatly printed name and the date. My first solo sewing project, once I picked up the scissors again, was a simple A-line skirt with an uneven hem that was a couple of inches too short. My sister’s first sewing project was a tailored velveteen blazer that fit her like a glove. 

These days, my sister squeezes wonder woman costumes and knitted hats and curtains in between a full time teaching career, and packing lunches, and homework, and bath time, and her project list is longer than the day. But meanwhile the niece is happily cutting out leaves she drew, and the nephew is trying his hand at leaf rubbings, and whether its their mom or their aunt digging out the scissors and glitter, I am thankful that these two half pints will grow up in such a creative environment that values the handmade. 

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