Looms & an Old Singer

This blog is part of the We Are Who We Come From series.

My Mama

Mom was always an artist in the kitchen and in the garden when I was growing up. 

She would cook the most elaborate, several course dinners that seemed actually "normal" to us (read: we didn't truly appreciate it at the time). 

She would grow fresh vegetables in the garden, as was always the way it was done back in Sweden.  You grew and then harvested and stored your food.


Mama before heading off to design school

Art and Fashion

When she was young, she became a very fine seamstress, creating with her hands.  She studied at a design school in the big city (in Sweden) and I still have a whole stash of the sketches she made while there. 

She had made these silk dresses that were works of art - I remember touching them and trying them on when I was little.  Every single stitch done by hand - her hand.  In perfect unity all those tiny stitches created that glamorous grey-ish green silk party dress.  Here she is in 1966 in one of those handcrafted silk dresses (on the far left).

Mama in handmade silk dress


Mama taught me how to, among many other things, sew. 

And it wasn't only stitching seams, but it was how to go about building something real out of a flat piece of fabric.  Kind of intimidating.  Like a 3-D construction puzzle without the advantage of framework. 

Admittedly, I rarely applied those skills to clothing, but found myself constantly borrowing Mom's gorgeous old Singer sewing machine to create this and that for the house, or the garden. 

I finally bought my own modern machine, and can't imagine not being able to create what I imagine with my own hands.  But, her old Singer sewing machine is still nicer than mine!


Looms on the Porch

I grew up spending some years and then every summer in Sweden throughout my childhood.  And now when I look back, I realize that Mom grew up with her own Mother (my Mormor) sitting at a massive wooden loom, weaving. 

Mormor made rugs, and fabric on this huge old wooden loom.  Here she is in the mid-60's or so at the family home Uddeby outside of Kristinehamn, Sweden.

My grandmother Alfrida Svanstrom at the loom

Mom's oldest sister would sit on the front porch in the summers with a similar loom, weaving when I was little.  It was a very rhythmic, soothing motion and sound.

I still have fabric crafted my aunt that I am keeping to turn into pillow covers when my children have their own homes after college.


Following her Folly

When Mom started taking painting classes a few years ago, it became clear that she was truly an artist who came from a long line of artists.  I'm not even sure that she really realized that until she had the time and space to pursue some classes and creativity just for the sake of ... being creative.

In Sweden, where she is from, she grew up with her Dad, and her Grandfather creating with ink and paint and paper. 

Her Dad was very interested in Japanese calligraphy. 

And her Grandfather was a working artist - I used to look carefully at these gorgeous water color paintings when I was little, not knowing that they were created by my Great Grandfather.  He made greeting cards as a way of earning a living, and was a prolific artist.  Now, several of his pencil sketches and water colors adorn my walls.

My great grandfather's artwork - here in pastel My great grandfather artwork - here a colored pencil sketch My great grandfather was a true artist - here in water color

These are a few of the pieces of original work I now have in my home from my great grandfather, Elis Svanström.  He created artwork his entire life, until he was very old.  He followed his folly and has passed his inspiration on many generations.  



I never knew that Mama was a painter.  But then maybe she didn't either.  Until she found it deep down inside. And until she had the time and leisure to pursue her folly - which is of course something I understand in all my cells now as a mother myself of two college age twins.  

Just for lack of time and opportunity, doesn't mean that the creativity isn't ready to bloom and shine.

I am grateful and trilled to have inherited her skill and inspiration and talent to fuel my own artistic endeavors now that I am able to find time and come up for air.

We truly are who we come from - remember that!



Sourround yourself with Beauty & Art.


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