At the show, our next door neighbor was a doll maker whose work was beautiful. Her mother sculpted the porcelain faces and limbs. Then she took over, painting and dipping them in beeswax for a lovely and subtle luster. She also made the bodies and dressed them.
But even better than her work was her sense of humor.
She kept us laughing all weekend. I loved, for instance, when she was standing in my booth and staring into her own for awhile and then said, "Who would even want a doll? I don't even like dolls. They creep me out."
We laughed and pointed out that she'd been selling dolls for over 20 years.
If she didn't like them, why did she make them?
"I don't know," she said flatly.
"I just liked making dolls when I was little and I didn't know how to stop."
But my favorite conversation with the doll maker was about lies.
"Don't you hate having to make up lies about what you do?" she asked. I wasn't sure exactly what she meant and inquired further.
"Like when you're buying supplies," she said. "For a long time people would ask me what I do and I would say, 'I make dolls.' Then I would have to watch the look of pity come over their faces before I finished that pathetic sentence with . . . 'with my mother.'
She further explained that she had since constructed several useful lies to explain her profession. When she's buying supplies, for instance, she says that she "teaches summer art classes to kids." But she was quick to add that it's somewhat hazardous, all that lying. If she hasn't properly prepared her husband for what she might say at a party, for instance, he may shoot her a look of shocked surprise when the lie pops out.
All of it made me laugh.
But I'm sympathetic to having a hard time explaining what I do. When I say "art," for instance, people immediately assume paintings. When I say "fiber," they have no idea what I'm talking about. And if I try to clarify that with "fabric," they jump right to quilting. It's usually easier to not say anything at all.
In the doll maker's "pathetic" scenario,
I'd probably be cast in the unfortunate role of the mother.
Because Hannah and I spend a lot of time discussing things we could make or do together that would surely bring us artistic fame and fortune.
As Hannah is quick to point out, she
"Just knows how the world should look."
And she does have a splendid design eye. Which I am definitely going to miss in our shared "Creative Suite" now that she's gone back to Virginia to school.
That's right -- after having her home for nearly a year and a half, she's fledged again and is winging her way across the country with her new car packed to the gills.
Although it was a difficult decision for her,
she decided to leave all of her vintage hats at home this semester.
"I've learned to pack much lighter," she explained, which didn't exactly jibe with the massive antique birdcage she was loading into her car to display her extensive earring collection. It's a fabulous display piece, but doesn't immediately conjure images of a sparsely furnished dorm room.
I'll definitely be thinking of her
often and fondly while she's away.
But first I'm going to clean her corner of the studio, and her bedroom, and her bathroom.
Then I'll bake up some chocolate chip cookies and pack them carefully in a box, perhaps with a message from my fortune cookie fortune collection tucked into the tupperware for good luck.
Because I can't lie about my profession.
I am, first and foremost, a mother, and any art I may create will always be secondary to my world-class chocolate chip cookies, full of comfort and mother love.
My body may be in the studio, but my mind flits constantly,
keeping a sharp eye for juicy worms and dangerous predators.
Good luck, Sweetie,
and have a wonderful year! (*sniff*)