My Creative Heritage, Part I

I come from a creative family. The creativity spans multiple generations on both sides. While some of that creativity was harnessed to produce utilitarian pieces, the artistry of other pieces transcends their “functional” purpose. It is that creativity which has echoed across the generations in my family, surfacing in different forms.

Old photo of a lady in a dress

Photo 1 – My grandma modeling an outfit she created.

GRANDMA WAS A CRAFTER

My paternal grandmother grew up in a time when girls didn’t advance very far with their schooling. Instead, they learned homemaking skills. My grandma learned to sew and designed her own clothes. (photo 1)

When she became a mother, she made clothes for my dad and uncle as well, on her treadle sewing machine. Additionally, she also knew how to knit and made sweaters for her sons. My grandma didn’t stop there though. My dad still remembers watching his mom create beaded handbags. (photo 2)

Photo 2 – Beaded purse with geometric design and flowers, detail.

Constructing these bags involved stringing hundreds… perhaps thousands, of tiny seed beads into a geometric or floral design. While most likely a pattern was used, it is unknown if she created her own patterns or if she followed someone else’s.

Decades later, when my grandma moved here to the U.S. from Germany, she lived with us briefly and took up knitting again. I still use the afghans that she created during her stay with us.

After she moved into a retirement home, she participated in the activity classes offered to residents. One of those classes was painting. My grandma was 84 years old when she started painting landscapes featuring different seasons of the year.

 

Photo 3 – My grandfather’s store.

GRANDPA WAS A FURRIER

Photo 4 – My Grandma is modeling one of my dad’s designs.

My dad initially became a Master Furrier in Liepzig (later in Berlin) at a time when it was the epicenter of the fur trade industry. My grandfather was a fur dealer and had his own store with show windows. (photo 3) My grandmother sometimes served as a model for the pieces featured in the store. (photo 4)

Working for a couple of fashionable clothing establishments, my dad designed coats and jackets utilizing mink, fox, Persian lamb and other types of furs. He cut the skins to size and the seamstresses constructed the actual coat and lining according to his design.

 

 

 

NIECE & NEPHEW GOT THE CREATIVE BUG

In the generation following me, one of my nephews works as a graphic designer and one of my nieces works as an apparel merchandiser – both of them following creative endeavors linked to our family heritage.

AS FOR ME…

I became a storyteller in words and images. The words/writing started early. Growing up, I was a voracious reader, so writing: short stories, novels, reflections, human interest articles, scripts, screenplays, journaling and blogging, was a natural pursuit. I even had a brief stint writing for the youth section of the local paper when I was a senior in high school. The storytelling was also sparked by hearing goofball, made up stories told to me at bedtime by my dad. Telling stories in images – photography and video – started years after the writing. It was some time after pursuing both as a career that I realized the family ties to those interests. But, that’s a story for another post.