When I was eleven years old in sixth grade, I acquired my first friend. Her name was Joanne Shalmo. She came from a family that had stair step children, one for each year. She was the oldest. Her father was a teacher and her mother stayed home to care for this large family.
That year after Christmas, she showed me a skirt her mother had made her as her present. I was in shock. People can make clothes? I thought they were made in factories by huge machines like other commodities. Fabric went in one end and clothing came out the other. She said that no, her mother had sewed this on a sewing machine.
She took me downstairs and her mother had an old electric Singer. I was fascinated. She let me run a piece of notebook paper through the feed dogs without thread so that the needle made a trail of tiny punctures in the paper. I was mesmerized and knew I had to have one.
My birthday is a week before Christmas and I was always getting the short shrift with one gift for both. I decided to play this gambit to my advantage. I asked for a sewing machine for BOTH from both my parents and grandparents. It worked. I was the proud owner of a Brother sewing machine which was just being imported to the US.
I bought a pattern and taught myself to sew. I could recount endless stories about the lessons I "gave myself". I'm smiling and shaking my head as I type. By the time I was in ninth grade and was exposed to "Home Ec", I made my dress in a few days and sat around the rest of the time waiting for the others to finish. By the time I graduated, I was making formal gowns for my mother.
A long time ago made with a Vogue pattern
Today I printed and framed my Artist Statement for the solo show. It starts with this:
From the minute we are born until the day we die, we are wrapped in fabric. We have an intimate relationship with fiber. It is our comfort, our protection and in it we present ourselves to the world.
Today on her blog, Louise Watson who I follow had used her sewing machine to make perforations in both fabric and paper and sent me off on this stroll down memory lane. Thank you Louise.