Influences on me as an artist: My Great Aunt Eileen
This wonderful old picture is my Great Uncle King and Great Aunt Eileen. It was taken in 1923. I love his bowtie and boater and her fabulous hat and peek-a-boo sleeve dress. They were always snappy dressers. They never had children, but treated my dad and his sister and brothers more like grandchildren than nieces and nephews. He was always called Uncle King, in the English tradition of calling an Uncle by his last name, rather than Uncle Lester. Aunt Eileen always called him King, too. Her real name was Dora, which she loathed, so when she reached 18, she chose a new name for herself and was henceforth, Eileen. They lived in Buffalo, New York where Uncle King worked for Remington Rand. He was always very good with money, and so they were able to retire early and build a house in St. Petersburg, Florida where he and Aunt Eileen moved in the early 1950's. (This is the house in which my parents now live.) He was a woodworker and Aunt Eileen was a great hand with the sewing machine.
This picture, from 1967, is Aunt Eileen with my grandfather Warner. They were brother and sister. Their mother (my Great Grandmother Warner) was the only quilter in my family. I blogged about her here. Aunt Eileen really looked like her mother.
This is one of the only examples I have of Aunt Eileen's work. When I was little, I had a Ginny doll that was my most prized possession. In those pre-Barbie days, there was no real doll furniture for this type of doll, so one Christmas, Uncle King made me a bed and a wardrobe for my Ginny doll. Aunt Eileen made all the bedclothes for the bed. She made a mattress, sheets, pillow in a pillow case, a brocade spread, and this gorgeous little quilt. It's a postage stamp setting and contains some old feed sack fabrics as well as some of the decorator fabrics Aunt Eileen used to make curtains and cushion covers.
Aunt Eileen lived long enough to meet our son Danny and she knew I was expecting Anna. She was so pleased that I liked to sew and she loved embroidery work, so I always made her an embroidered wall hanging or a pillow for Christmas each year since her eyesight wouldn't allow her to embroider at the end of her life. My mom has carefully preserved all of these in the house in Florida. Aunt Eileen was my inspiration for home decorative sewing, as well as fine embroidery. Thanks, Aunt Eye.
Really I don't dislike to cook, but what you cook is eaten so quickly. When you sew, you have something that will last to show for your efforts. ~Elizabeth Travis Johnson