My Artist Mother
I see my mother at the table sketching, painting, working on crafts for relief society, and cutting silhouettes for posters. Everything she worked on she would share some paper, paint, or beads with her kids so we could play too. I am sure it was messy at times, but we glued Popsicle sticks and made knick knacks. In the summer we would visit grandma’s house in Idaho. She would make gifts for her birthday before we traveled for the 24th of July celebration that included parades and rodeos. She made lovely painted pictures, beautiful doll’s, sculpted figurines from nylons, and the chicken wall hangings made from seeds were one of my favorites. I would sit beside her and make soap fish covered in tulle and sequence beads, and a glorious strawberry crate cage filled with flowers (never saw that hanging in grandma’s house).
Mom did everything well and all her family and friends would be in awe of her creations. The famous church bazaars would display her unique aprons, beautiful beaded flowers, miniature car canvas tracks, and a little pup tent, which got Mark’s picture in the Daily Sentinel as a preschooler. She was known for her cooking, crafts, and fabulous posters. She created 3D posters with cutouts and art work before there were computer printouts, after that she would enhance a few details with a printed piece, but always add her Barbara artistic flare.
As a little first grader she wanted me to have a dance experience so I went to a neighborhood friend’s class and she made me the cutest brown furry costume so I could dance in “The Teddy Bear Picnic.” I was so frightened, but my family watched as I did summersaults and pranced around the stage. After seeing the little acrobat dance, she knew she could teach me more skills than I was receiving from class so that was the end of my dance lessons. As a young girl Mom was an excellent tumbler and gymnast and could do amazing gymnastic moves and as a mom would teach her children and her grandchildren tumbling. She would even teach my little boys tumbling and sew little stretch suits for a church performance.
As a loving friend she made many beautiful dolls for a needy family at Christmas, or a friend who lost her husband, or who had an illness or surgery. Mom made one of my prize possessions, a Raggedy Andy doll for me at 15 with a note expressing he could be my date until I was 16. She made a Raggedy Ann for each of my sisters too.
My most vivid memory is her promising to buy me material and making a dress for me if I would let her pick my face as she rolled my hair in curlers. I finally curled my own hair, but like any mom wanted to clean up my face. We went to the fabric store and it was like a candy store to me. All these colors and textures, we would look often and for long lengths of time for material for dresses and outfits. She surprised me with fancy dresses from lace table clothes and in gold brocades. Making all my prom and homecoming dresses except for one, because she was in Oklahoma as my Dad was going to FAA school. She taught and helped me sew lots of clothes, but she was always better at putting in the zippers no matter how many home economic classes I took. She even sewed a beautiful gold gown for my daughter Jessica for her Junior Prom. She made many of my school dance costumes, and pompon uniforms. One of the worst disasters was when I picked out my beautiful senior prom pattern and fabric during a rain storm one spring without her. I brought home an eyelet lace fruit print material I am sure was supposed to hang as kitchen curtains. The pattern was too big and I looked like I should be wearing fruit on my head in a conga line. She did not criticize me or complain; just sewed it up and I went with a sun burnt face with my Oklahoma boyfriend to my senior prom. We still laugh when we see an ugly dress we joke, “Are you going to the Prom?”
She sewed my beautiful dress for the temple and my sister’s bridesmaid dresses. Mom made darling stuffed horses one Christmas for my little boys. I could always count on something crafted and personal and amazing each birthday and Christmas. Even when I was married she made all the girls a Centennial 1976 dress. Mine was really cute red and white stripe summer two piece suit with big red buttons. Even when I would sew I would get her expertise and help on the difficult pieces. She taught me a lot about sewing, but she still is the expert. I did not get her crafting skill, but my little sister loves crafts and makes beautiful things. Mom even helped me sew 75 frogs for a young women’s conference class “You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince.” I think I would have worded it different now days.
Mom is most famous for her dough art, which she sold at craft fairs. Many people in the Grand Junction Valley were loyal fans and came year after year to buy her beautiful ornaments for their Christmas tree. She now has a new love this past couple of decades; she is a potter with her own wheel and kiln. She gives pottery to family, as wedding gifts, and every year makes dozens of bowls for the food kitchen for their fundraiser “Empty Bowles.” Mom has generously shared her talents with her family, friends and community, but blessed my life more than she will ever know. Thanks mom for blessing my life with all your creativity, service, and beauty. You are a priceless original and I love you very much.