Reflections on things I've learned

I was at my mother's house the other day and noticed a gift I had given her years ago.  It's been sitting out for all these years but I just happened to 'see' it again. It's a picture of my children and my sister's children when they were much younger in a decorated frame with a little tatting.  


The frame is an inexpensive one without glass and the wooden hearts were painted to coordinate with the material I used to cover the backing.  Where the ribbon is tied around the flowers the tatting is gathered up, giving the impression they are wrapped in the lace.

For whatever reason, this day I also noticed all the imperfections of this gift.  The backing I'm sure is cardboard, not a bad thing but probably, no, certainly, not acid free.  I noticed the hole I cut for the picture is not quite square and whatever I used to glue the tatting down stained the material.  For all that the material, ribbon and flowers are about the same color, one or another should probably have been a contrasting color to show off the others better.

Back when I did this I didn't know anything about using acid free paper/cardboard.  With the surge of interest in scrap-booking now almost anyone can know about acid free paper just by reading the packaging of scrap booking paper at the store.  There are now a lot of templates easily available for different shapes to make a finished project look, well, finished. There were probably other glues I could have used that would have worked better than whatever it is I used, but I was pretty ignorant of such things back then. 

I remember this piece of tatting - made entirely of plain rings and chains it was supposed to be a round motif that I put too many stitches/too many repeats in, making it ruffle a lot. By gathering it up around the flowers it allowed the rest of it to lay flat.  It was a good way to use what might have been a mistake.  This wasn't my first attempt at designing my own patterns but everything I knew about tatting had been gleaned just by the experience of doing it.  The only person I knew that even knew what tatting was, was my grandmother and she didn't do much at all.  There was no Internet to see other people's tatting, so my exposure to patterns were in whatever books and magazines I could lay my hands on.  The library didn't have many books on it and magazines with tatting were few and far between.  Yes, Workbasket was out there with a pattern or two a month, but that's almost nothing compared to what we have available now.  I had taken to coming up with my own patterns a lot of the time, simple though they were. I was following unknowingly in the footsteps of designers everywhere - trial and error: keep what you like, throw away what you don't, but most importantly, keep trying!

As I look at the gift now I see all of it's flaws, but also what went into it: the effort, the imagination, the skill, the courage to do something out of my comfort zone.  And mostly the desire to give my mother something special that she would like and, hopefully, treasure. I must have succeeded as it still sits out in her living room, visible to all who enter her house.



"Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!"
Dr. Seuss
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