So today is my first day to share some of my thoughts on decorating, collecting, gardening and anything cool that I think is culturally enriching. I am the youngest of the three Graves Sisters. I had always been a creative child. I enjoyed decorating my room and painted wooden signs at the age of 12 to have on the door and the walls. "Do not enter the Soul Center" was just one. (I am talking the late 60's at this time.)
We grew up in an early 1950's Cape Cod house that looked like a box with a triangle sticking out at the top. Practically everything we had in it was second hand, but maybe not the appliances. We had to always figure out how to make something seedy look good. We did this with paint, imagination and elbow grease.
My role model was my mother Mary Jane. Though she had mostly civil servant jobs all of her liife she had a creative flair that she was able to exercise at home. An example of this is one time she cut off the legs from a tall table, black lacquered it and made her own stunning cocktail table. She also made gorgeous silk draperies that rivaled any Marshall Fields custom ordered ones and painted the walls a Pepto Bismol pink to match those drapes. It made our south side living room a hot little number and very de'cote!
in the 50's my father bought a picture of an African tribeswoman that still looks fabulous today in my sister's living room. They were ahead of their time, in that most folks didn't have ethnic art in their possession, let alone display it.
My sisters are the same way. Their homes, and even the way they dress, look as if they have personal stylists. And not to forget my Grandmother on my father's side; Ione, a single parent (for most of the time) raised 3 children, helped manage a hip ballroom in 1940's Chicago and had a similar flair for style. The small duplex home that she rented always had the coolest art, Scandanavian furniture, contemporary flatware and dishes that would rival anything in Henri Bendel's window. And I dusted it all, every Saturday for a dollar, riding my bike around the block to her house. My fondest memory of Grandmother is remembering her black marble bathroom floor and walls that always had a light misting of the best smelling talcum powder that she wore daily.
My cousin Max confided in me the other day that Grandmother had a mean collection of Moms Mabley and other adult subject matter comedy albums that he would get into and listen to when she wasn't home.
At my Catholic high school, my artistic flair blossomed. My art teacher Sister Sharon used to let some of us go out and draw from the 4th floor roof of the school. It was there that I drew the roof tops of South Shore with pencil and paper. One of my roof drawings was published in my school yearbook. A few years later, I designed and fabricated a piece of wall art, hooking black and white strands of yarn and incorporating mirrors, winning first prize in the city wide Buckingham Fountain Art Fair where the first Mayor Daley presented me my award. It was very mod and funky and I think I was influenced by the artist Mondrian who I had been exposed to previously in an art class at Gillespie Elementary school.
I also think my interest in decorating was influenced by dear neighbors who had fabulous gardens. But that was where my mother drew the line. She killed every plant that came in the house and had no interest in outside plant life. By being the last child with years between me and my sisters, I spent a lot of time hanging out at the older childless neighbors' houses whose husbands meticulously manicured their lawns and grew beautiful peonies and hydrangeas every summer. (My father was not handy nor did he like to do most work.) His interest was jazz music that I will expound on another time.
I don't mind cutting grass and doing yard work even today. I love flowers, cool vases that hold the flowers, yard art and any opportunity to decorate with flowers from an alley or cool unusual one stem flowers found at the grocery. I like to grow poppies in the spring as well as my over 200 tulip bulbs and red hot pokers in the summer. I take all my amaryllis bulbs from Xmas and put them in the ground when weather permits for beautiful tropical looks to have outside, and then I bring them in for a fabulous bloom for the following Xmas.
As my Aunt Mary said once, "You Graves Girls sure know how to make nothing into something". And that's what I want to do with you! Share my ideas all well as other's to enlighten and show or tell you how you can do it.
Not only do I think you will find self-fulfillment, you will save money and at the same time help our environment by re-using items instead of throwing them away.