Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My mother's gift

Glass vases by Heather Sullivan.

"Nothing has a stronger influence on their children than the unlived lives of their parents." Carl Jung

When I first read Jung's words they resonated, but I felt there was a brutality to them. Now I see them not only as truth, but to me they speak of a beautiful heritage.

Mom trained as a glass blower and it's the medium that makes her heart sing. These are her vases. She says glass is "alive", still gets excited talking technique and says, "Nothing rivals glass when it comes to playing with light." She sold her tools thirty years ago. Being isolated in the country limited what was available for artistic expression. According to Jung, things generally get ugly at this point. I think what made the difference was that instead of repressing her creativity, it bubbled over and found outlets.


She bought a loom. Those machines are pure math. Being more of a right brain, that loom presented a challenge, but now she makes beautiful coverlets. She got a spinning wheel that purrs like a contented cat. Straight from the fleece, she makes her own handspun into various textures, then gathers natural materials for dyeing wool. Apple tree bark for peach, goldenrod for chartreuse, onion skins for gold. She ended up being head weaver at King's Landing, starting her own business, and travelling to Guatemala to study their fabrics and meet the local crafts people.


Perhaps giving up glass blowing made her even more productive. That desire made for a lot of energy that she put not only into her textiles, but into quilting, homemade toys, cloth books, embroidery, restoring antiques, restoring old houses, collecting artist's treasures, and putting together creative outfits that at times raised an eyebrow or two among our conservative neighbors. I admire women who while raising a family, choose to continue to take steps in the creative process, sometimes visible often invisible. For my mother, putting down her tools didn't make her stop being an artist.


When I first tried paints it was love at first touch. Being surrounded by a stimulating artistic environment as a child made for 'regular excursions into enchantment.' I used to get lost in the bubbles of that purple fairyland vase. After thinking about this for a long time, I know this urge to create does come from my ancestors and my environment, but it's also in line with my true character . My touchstone is that there are some activities that make me more me, 'bringing back the soul' when I loose myself a little.

There is an incredible energy in longing. Mom, always creatively active, is now talking about what it might be like to go back to school. Who knows where that might lead? Her subconscious longing was an energy that propelled me forward more so than her words. This is why I think longing if it doesn't become repression, can be a positive thing that leads to action. That is when it becomes beautiful. This propulsion is a heritage of creativity and wisdom that complements my deepest desires. Jung concludes that self-reflection can heal the 'unlived lives' in the entire ancestral line. Heh, heh. Either that, or I'm neurotic. If that's the case, I'm much happier crazy than I ever would be sane.

14 comments:

Juggling Jason said...

Awesome post!

Jo Horswill said...

Oh Shayla, this is a beautiful post and "ode to your mum".
I feel so many connections.
I love your mothers blown glass, simply beautiful. I also loved hearing about her artistic journey.
Her loom and natural dyes...just lovely.
I am travelling to Guatemala next year too!!! and looking forward to being inspired by the beeautiful people and fabrics there also.
The mum thing...yes :} and I truly believe crazy wins over sane!

Happy holidays to you...xx

ArtPropelled said...

Beautiful post straight from the heart! It makes me think of my mum who was also very creative.

picciolo said...

I can see where you get your artistic nature from, your mum sounds like an amazing woman!
: )

mansuetude said...

oh yes

DJ said...

Wonderful connections...

MiKa Art said...

What a beautiful post! (Touching story and breathtaking photos!!) I can not describe how deeply I was moved by this post - Thank you so much for sharing it!

xoxox

M.Kate said...

A belated Merry Christmas Shayla..and your mom is so talented. An early Happy New Year too to you and your love ones :) Hugs always....

nancy said...

"art is not a thing,
it is a way"
e.hubbard

Shayla said...

Thanks, Jace.

Jo, your words were touching. Thanks for the connection and have a wonderful time in Guatemala. The colors and textures!! Wow.

Robyn, isn't it great having a creative mum?

Jane, thanks. Yes, she is.

mansuetude :)

DJ, people need connection, don't we?

Mika, that's so sweet. Thank you, I'm touched.

M. Kate, thanks for your greetings. Happy greetings and hugs back to you.

Nancy, that's a great quote and fits so well here. Thanks!

kate said...

What a lovely post. I love what you said about longing..."There is an incredible energy in longing." I will think about that for a long while...

Gwen Buchanan said...

Oh so lovely... This made me very happy Shayla... I relate to this...

bindu said...

Those glass vases are gorgeous! Your mother has magic fingers. Talented in so many ways!

Shayla said...

Hello, Kate. What a nice surprise. I didn't see these comments at first. Thanks for sharing. I think that energy can be either positive or negative.

Gwen, thanks. Some things are difficult to express and it's comforting to know when someone relates.

Bindu, thank you. Yes some people specialize and some do a bit of everything. Mom does a bit of everything.