The Once-Domestic Arts

This post is for Sue’s second birthday-week celebrations, which is a contest for a wonderfully quirky present — hand-crocheted neck-piece and bracelet. To enter, one has to post about handicrafts one has encountered, or link to craft blogs and such. The winner will be declared by lucky draw, a method which I do not approve of, but the idea is so lovely I thought I’d participate anyway.

My grandmother and great-aunt used to make me really pretty hand-made cards for my birthday. They used a little paint (which they couldn’t always afford), and bits from their mish-mash riff-raff boxes: velvet cut from the bottom of jewellery-boxes, cigarette foil, wood shavings from domestic carpentry, the backs of old wrapping paper, seashells, fresh and pressed leaves from their potted plants.

With age and illnesses, the intricacy of these cards gradually decreased. One year I received a shakily-painted yellow bird, sitting between fresh-plucked leaves.

The next year, I made my grandmother my first ever illustrated get-well card, which was really a please-come-back-home card. Three months later, she passed away. I’m quite I certain I didn’t make a conscious decision to eschew the happy arts, but what with one thing and another, I’ve never made a card since, or written an illustrated letter. Till, that is, very recently.

Sometimes, you realise you had been bleeding only when the wounds start healing.

Anyway, here is a sample of my grandmother and great-aunt’s handiwork. The better pieces are missing — I think they were misplaced when we moved house in junior school. Still, they’re pretty impressive samples, the ones I have, considering what these women were working with.

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  1. It is beautiful work, Priyanka. Their oddments boxes sound like the boxes and bundles in which I stored all my craft supplies as a child. I used to collect bits of paper and fabric and odd sequins and paper doilies too, so I really wish I had known your family.

    You couldn’t have given my blog a better birthday gift, so thank you very much.

    • You’re a darling, Sunny. They would have cherished you for your fiery self-assertion, your willing compromises for the sake of family, and your constant engagement with creativity.


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