As a child, I received a box one Christmas. On the outside, it didn’t look anything much out of the ordinary – it was round, maybe 10″ in diameter, and probably around 20cm high, and the glossy papier-mâché style that was quite common in the 1990s in the $2 stores. Inside, however, was where the magic was hiding.
Inside that unassuming box, was a veritable treasure trove of crafty goodies. Two and a half decades on, I couldn’t tell you exactly what was in there. Scissors, I remember. Possibly some felt? Some paints and brushes, probably some pencils. Sequins, pipe cleaners, floss, fabric…it was a collection of odds and ends that made my creative little heart happy. What I can tell you, two and a half decades on, is that this box of art and craft supplies was one of the most memorable gifts of my childhood, and even now, thinking of it as I write about it, I get a warm gooey feeling. It perfectly encapsulated one of my favourite imaginative games – though thanks to the passing of the years doing what they do to a tired mama’s brain, I can’t quite remember if the box or the game came first.
Crafting, obviously, then, has always been a big part of my life. I’ve grown up surrounded by crafty women. From as early as I can remember as a small girl, I had the beginnings of a glory box, lovingly handcrafted by my great grandmother, who apparently failed to pass on her preplanning and organisational skills, but wanted to bless my future home and children with bits and pieces to get us started, and was concerned advancing age would prevent her from crocheting and knitting by the time I had children. One of my grandmothers is a knitter. The other is a bit like me, bouncing between hobbies, and trying new things, like a flower arranging course at TAFE, or a quilting class, or some long stitch, or…you get the drift. It probably sounds familiar to anyone who has poked around in my, ahem, eclectic, shall we say, blog for more than about 30 seconds. My mum made costumes and baked cakes and sewed clothes and quilts and did cross-stitch. Crafting, it seems, is quite strongly ingrained in my DNA.
Over the last couple of weeks, as we slowly pack up 15 years of our family’s life into storage boxes and prepare to list our house for sale, I have been working through the attic, in short bursts. An unlined attic, under a dark coloured roof, in the middle of a heat wave, I must confess is not my favourite place to be. I would pop in my earbuds, start up my audiobook, and hit the timer for 15 minutes, and get busy. Among the 8392 bags of baby’s and children’s clothing (I wish I were joking – how did we end up with so much? Why did we keep it all?), were some boxes of my own bits and pieces from my childhood that my mum has stashed, and since passed on to me in her own fit of decluttering. As I sorted through, I came across a little box that rattled when I picked it up. Cracking it open, I was concerned the rattling was caused by something having been broken, but was delighted to find, instead, a total blast from the past.
Oh my word did finding these bring back so many memories. A whole lot of weekend and holiday hours were spent making bracelets and earrings and beaded safety pins. The craft shop where we bought supplies is long gone, but just seeing the clasps brings back the sight and smell and feel of the place. When I first found them, I thought I would photograph them and then pull them apart and salvage the lovely glass seed beads. The more I look at them though, the less inclined I am to do that. For now, I’ve popped them in my bracelet bowl on my bedside table. I still have jars and boxes full of these self-same beads…I’m thinking this weekend needs some bracelet making time with my small people, to make some memories and relive a few more along the way as well.