Dad’s Heart, My Art
We often relegate dads to the back seat when we talk about our early creative influences. “Mom taught me to ______ (insert sew, knit, cook, etc. here).” And she did, although the knitting never stuck. But my dad…. Like Mom, he valued creative and independent thinking, but he had different gifts to share.
When Dad wasn’t working, he was creating something, building something, fixing something.
He was in his most joyful state, I think, at the piano. He played with nuance and heart, wrote poems that he set to music and sang with a clear bass voice. Rhythm and harmony. Music filled the house and is now in the background when I am creating, even though at times the playlist is just in my head.
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And he worked with his hands. When I was curious or wanted to “help” (or just hang out with Dad), he always took the time to explain what he was doing and why, and he guided my hands along the way. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure I was a pest, but he always welcomed my questions and took time for thoughtful answers that a 7-year-old could understand.
By the time the 8th grade girls had their 2-week shop unit (girls couldn’t take full year of shop class then), I already knew my way around a table saw, a drill press and an orbital sander. I knew to measure twice and cut once. Dad instilled the value of taking care of the best quality tools you can afford and using the correct tool for the job. Dad taught me that all the stages of the process are important and deserve equal attention. Meticulous planning and good craftsmanship make a project successful, beautiful and enduring. I have carried those lessons into the engineering of beadweaving and intricate piecing.
And he taught me that despite the best-laid plans, sometimes you find yourself backed into an artistic corner. Then you must find a creative means of escape. We call that an opportunity. Make it right. Do the right thing, even if you’re the only one doing it.
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