My Grandparents Continue To Inspire Me

Do you come from a creative family? I think some of my earliest inspirations to creativity came from my grandparents. They had so many interesting hobbies and experiences. I can remember arriving at my grandma and grandpa’s house and finding them in the “shop”, short for wood shop. My sister and I would barge in there and see that they were busy working on the long rifles that they made. Grandma would be carving the tail stock with long, curly scrolls. Grandpa would be working on the rough cast brass butt plates and trigger guards and such. They would only stop long enough to look up at us and say hello. My sister, Rachael, and I would ask if we could have a piece of wood to work on. My grandma would point to a pile of scrap pieces and tell us to grab one. We would each fit our wood pieces into an available vice, there were several screwed onto the workbench, and start filing and sanding. Occasionally we’d stop to show each other how soft and smooth our piece was becoming, asking what the other had used to get it so smooth and sometimes trading tools.

But let me describe to you what my grandparents’ home was like. They lived way out in the sticks. We drove on gravel roads on the way to their house, all the while keeping a look out for the occasional deer or rabbit. I can remember that we also saw a fox, snapping turtle, and occasionally a brilliant blue indigo bunting. Grandma and Grandpa lived in a log cabin, which I loved. Wood floors, rough plaster ceiling, warm and gently worn antiques all around. The cabin had this indescribable smell. But if I were to try, it would possibly be the combination of wood, leaves, mossy earth, and wood fire. My green thumbed grandma always had beautiful flowers and when I was younger they had a huge vegetable garden. It seemed to be a requirement to always have some sort of big dog and several cats at the cabin. Rachael and I loved it out there. We loved the simplicity and rustic beauty of the place.

Grandma Gloria, as we called her, seemed to be able to create anything. She could draw, paint, carve, sew, cook, upholster, and repair anything. Grandpa was just as capable, talented and smart, though Grandma was more artistic. They participated in a lot of period events. Grandma sewed the most amazing costumes for these events! She’d lay out a wool blanket in front of the lean-to and on it place a variety of items she and Grandpa were willing to sell or trade: guns, costumes, powder flasks, perhaps a chatelaine or some other accessory to any proper 18th century costume. We would sometimes participate in these period events too. I remember Friendship with its tall teepees and the smell of campfires. To this day that smell still stirs something in me.

They’re both gone now but as I explore my creativity more and more, I think of them. I inherited piles of colorful wool from Grandma to make hooked rugs or whatever I might finally get the nerve to try to sew. I saved some of the labels that she taped to plastic bags of yards of wool: 58″ brown washable wool 11 yds; 2 yds 60″ wide French maroon wool. One of Grandpa’s victrolas sits in my studio too. I have a whole trunk of old 78s. And there are other things here and there to remind me of them. I wish I could have learned more from both of them but they will always be inspiring to me. There are times when people will tell me about creative family members but that they themselves are not creative at all. I believe everyone has creativity inside them. For me, I just had to finally decide, “I can do that” and then just try it. Do it! Do it! Get some stuff and play, free your creativity!