At my grandma's house, when I was a little girl, I would sleep under a quilt made of pink and white satin squares. My grandma had made the quilt out of the remnants of all my aunts' wedding and bridesmaids' dresses--which she had also made.
My grandma also made a quilt for me, from the remnants of the clothes she'd made for me. It's embroidered with my name and the date, 1980. It's probably the first thing I would carry out of the house in my arms, should there ever be a fire.
My other grandma lived in Arizona. But she came to visit every summer, and one summer I wanted to make a three-tiered prairie skirt. I remember the fabric was pink with little blue flowers sprinkled all over it. And I remember that my grandma (who may have had just a touch of OCD) stood over me with a ruler, making sure that every inch of skirt had the same number of gathers as the next. I wore that skirt for years. (And I have since learned the invaluable skill of eyeballing it. Sorry, grandma.)
My mom knits, crochets, sews, quilts, gardens at a master level, and--as my dad says--could make jam from a tree stump. When my daughter got married last year, she asked my mom for a quilted guest book. The guests signed strips of fabric with a fabric-safe pen, and then my mom took it home and pieced it all together.
Learning to make things beautiful with your own two hands is a proud family tradition, which I didn't always appreciate as a kid. We made things with our own two hands because we had to. There wasn't money to buy things ready made. We had to DIY. Way before it was cool.
But years later, here is what I know. Beauty belongs to all of us, not just to those with big budgets.
We can make it pretty, using what we love, what we find, what we create. Creating beauty this way, we invest time and attention and creativity and love. All the things that last a lifetime, and then into eternity.
photography: Michael Bruner