Stories About Our Moms

Posted by on May 12, 2017 in Blog

As independent makers and creative entrepreneurs necessity often requires us to wear many hats, put in long hours and work in solitude. Sometimes we need help and in many cases our moms are the first ones at our door, sleeves rolled up and ready for action. In honour of Mother’s Day we asked a few of our artists how their moms helped and inspired them to become the amazing makers that they are.

CAROLINE MILLER

Caroline Miller

Assortment of sterling silver bracelets and rings by Caroline Miller.

My mom’s name is Hieke. She has inspired me to become the jeweler that I am today – always encouraging me to do what makes me happy before anything else. As long as I can remember she has guided me to use my imagination and has given me the resources to find inspiration everywhere I look.

Some of these tactile inspirations come from memories of choosing shiny buttons from her button jars for sewing projects, kneading dough for apple turnovers to eat before bed, keeping pet caterpillars on the kitchen window sill, eating berries from her garden, smelling the many beautiful flowers that she grows every year.

My sisters and I spent many happy hours camping and playing outside in the forest and on the beaches of the Pacific coast together. Through play and many hours left to our own devices our imaginations knew no limits. In summertime we would get bedtime stories read to us while we bathed in warm tidal pools at sunset on a remote gulf island.

She has always allowed me to make a mess, get dirty, sleep in blanket forts, eat toast with chocolate sprinkles on top, wear plastic clip on earrings in family portraits and most of all, be free. She has always encouraged me to explore the world, which I have done, several times over. Always welcoming me back with open arms and a smile on her face. I am so lucky that she lives nearby, I see her often and my own two daughters get to benefit from all her knowledge, love and inspiration she has to share.

Caroline Miller and her Mom

ULLA CLARK [LU PRINTS]

Ulla in her print studio, Pemberton, B.C.

Both of my parents have always been supportive in the many paths I have tried and followed throughout my life. Travel, work, school, love – they have been there thru them all, and rarely have discouraged me, even if they doubted something in their minds. I sometimes wonder if I myself, a mother of 2 girls, will be the same, or am even capable of being the same….

I started screenprinting after a 15 year career and post secondary education in Forestry. A love of making things, and a technical mind, made screenprinting a perfect match. I fell head over heels, quit my job, and took every course I could find in industrial printing in Canada and the USA. Shortly after, I bought several big ticket printing equipment items, and started printing commercially. I took every and any job in my area, and thru trial and many errors, I learned to print on several mediums. After a couple of years I started dabbling in water based inks, and this led to a whole new world of printing for me. Not long after I began printing my own designs onto fabric and sewing it into home textiles and then started LUprints Home Goods. This is where the story of my mother begins…

LUprints was in it’s 2nd year of life and I decided to try the One of a Kind Show in Toronto to expand my horizons and see if I could do a larger craft/maker show. It was the winter show of 2008, and the show was oddly quiet, as the crash of the stock market was definitely affecting sales. As the week was nearing end, I was not sure about signing back on, as it seemed like an awfully long way to travel and although I had made a profit, it was just not what I had expected. Then into my booth, walked some very professional looking ladies, who were asking questions unlike the other buyers I had met. It turns out they worked for the marketing department of Indigo/Chapters, and wanted to know if I would be interested in collaborating on some pillows for their stores. Being a person who often says yes to things, I agreed on the spot and was set to meet with them the following day in downtown Toronto to go over the details.

Many months later, after collaborating on 3 designs, a purchase order arrived in my inbox for the pillows and printing and production began. The printing and sewing wasn’t too big of a deal, as I was used to larger commercial orders of t-shirts, but I hadn’t really thought out the stuffing and packaging part too deeply and then realized there was no way I could ever fit that many boxes of pillow inserts into my studio space, let alone stuff them into the pillow covers all by myself! Explaining the situation to my mom, she made a plan to come and help me package the order. Also explaining things to my sister, she asked her very new boyfriend (and now husband!) if I could use his commercial bay in Coquitlam to store all of the pillows, as well as unpackage, and repackage them there, and then have them picked up by the shipping company there. We estimated the whole process would take five days, and promised not to be in his way…so he agreed.

Five days later with barely an hour to spare, my mother and I (with a few shifts from my sister) had successfully become assembly line workers in a small back room in my now brother-in-laws workshop. We unpackaged, repackaged, compressed, bagged and labelled, from morning until evening during an unusual hot spell until we had 12 overhead high pallets full of pillows wrapped in plastic wrap, ready for Indigo/Chapters shops across the country. We were exhausted, and sore from head to toe but, above all, relieved that we had pulled it off.

I never would have been able to complete this without my mother’s (and rest of my family’s) help and advice. When I think back to this event years later, after the many other orders my mom has come and helped me complete, and always refusing any payment other than products from my company, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. It is a kind of thankfulness that is impossible to put into words. And again I wonder, will I be capable of being this same mother to my own girls…I sure hope so.

 

 Ulla’s mom and eldest daughter, Freja.

MELISSA FERREIRA [ADHESIF CLOTHING]

Melissa sewing in the studio, Vancouver, B.C.

My mother, Melita, worked in garment production factories in Montreal throughout my childhood and would often take me to work with her. The factories were like a second home to me and I would spend some of my time there with the house designer playing with swatches and detail options. I grew up with her sewing at the kitchen table after work, doing alterations for extra income. Sewing was a huge influence in my life from early on.

Naturally I learned to sew from my mother. After spending many years as a vintage clothing buyer after high school I taught myself how to design from taking apart vintage garments and seeing how they were put together. I love everything vintage and it remains to this day my main source of inspiration. Vintage clothing, music, cars, appliances, historic and modern architecture have all withstood the test of time because things were built to last. Because they’ve lasted the pieces leave behind a legacy with abundant stories to tell.

My mother and I have worked together since I established Adhesif Clothing in 2003 and still do to this day. She does the majority of the sewing work and we work on samples together. I do all the designing and cut and composition work and some of the sewing. I attribute a huge part of the success of Adhesif Clothing to the amazing quality of craftsmanship that my mom painstakingly puts into each and every one-of-a-kind garment that passes through her hands. It’s a dying art, the knowledge and skill my mother hones, and I’m honoured to have such an incredible person to learn from and work with after all these years.

Melissa and her mom in her Adhesif Clothing Boutique, Vancouver.

DIANE ZWICKEL [ZED HANDMADE]

Diane wearing her Grandma’s famous mittens as a young girl.

My mom’s mom was a terror – she moved quickly, always walking half a block ahead of my slow-moving grandpa, as if that would make him walk faster. Yet she was up at dawn every single morning, baking him a cake for his lunch at work. She hated socializing, too impatient to make small talk, yet fed every homeless man who knocked on her door during the depression. On the way home from the country dance in rural Manitoba, when grandpa was asleep in the passenger seat, her foot hit the gas pedal and she screamed through the cool night air, finally able to move at the pace she loved.

Her sarcastic outlook on life was legendary. She hated people who conformed, who followed instead of led, and most of all, who were silly or vacuous. She spoke her mind in a firm and quiet way, but if I was ever in real trouble, she was there for me, no questions asked and no advice given. She taught me through her actions to question the value and worth of everything, and then make my own decisions.

When we arrived at her house, the routine was one of two things; try on a new dress she was sewing for me or stick out my hands so she could measure the mittens she was knitting for me. I was the envy of every kid In Winnipeg during the cold winter months, when my knitted mittens, 3 inter-knit layers warm, kept my hands toasty, even in the minus 40 degrees famous in that town. The mittens had this geometric, interesting design that became her signature. I had them in every colour combination imaginable. The supply of those mittens was as endless as her love for me.

She shaped my taste in fashion; no frills for her, and thus none for the clothes she made for me. Forthright, clean sturdy fabric and design. Something that made a statement, but wasn’t at the mercy of the moment. Fashion that would last because it was never quite in, but certainly never out of style. She would cruise the kids department in stores, coming home to make me what she had seen, only better. I learned to have an eye for what I was seeing and how it translated into design.

She never suggested I learn any of her skills. She just made it all look so amazingly cool, I couldn’t resist. She taught me to follow my heart, to chase my dreams and to believe in my innate talents. And ultimately, she taught me that anything worth doing was worth doing well. This guiding principle has stayed with me to this day.

Diane in Grandma’s lap as a baby.

Many of us that are a part of the Shiny Fuzzy Muddy maker community are also mom’s, which helps us to understand how hard our own mother’s worked on our behalves, for better or for worse, to make us the people we are today! Happy Mothers Day, to all the Moms and Grandmas who inspire!

xo SFM