Saturday, February 14, 2015

For My Valentines: Fabric + Paper Love

All week I've been sharing the Fabric + Paper Valentines that I have been making for my ongoing February fun!  I've mailed or given my sweet little Valentines , except for these shown above.  These are on display on my childhood treadle sewing machine. The same sewing machine that I learned to sew on as a young girl growing up in Alaska.

 It belonged to my paternal grandmother, brought with her when she immigrated from Finland as she wound her way from Ellis Island to the ship that brought her up from Vancouver, Canada to Juneau, Alaska and then over to Douglas Island. Here, she met my grandfather, another Finnish immigrant, who had arrived a year earlier. She married him and had a house filled with children. Some survived childhood illnesses and accidents and some did not.

My father, Bernhart (Ben) Savikko, was somewhere in the middle and grew up with many brothers and sisters. They were all hard working and every thing they owned was either home made, trapped, fished, hunted, or brought up on huge freight ships from the 'states' with deliveries every three months. 

My grandfather worked in the foundry of the Treadwell Gold Mine. He was a talented furniture maker, carving intricately beautiful designs into his work, a talented artist who painted a mural in Juneau's fanciest territorial building, an inventor, and a goldsmith in the Treadwell Mines.

At its zenith, it was the largest gold producing mine in the entire world. It had an explosion in 1917 and what did not burn was destroyed as the sea waters rushed in through the underground tunnels. He did, as everyone did, all of his other jobs, including fishing to keep his family and all of his children going after the collapse of his livelihood.

When they passed away, my parents paid, bit by bit, to own their house and it was in all ways, our childhood home.

In the early 70's their house, our house, was also destroyed. By fire that took all but the foundations of our home and a few belongings. This treadle survived though singed and its beautiful old wood forever warped. 

Oh, how I loved that old treadle. I secretly played with it when I was very young, and figured out how to use it at age 8 when I taught myself to sew simple pieces of clothing whether for me or my dolls.

I treasure my stories as I  treasure my past.  I had it shipped to Oregon after our marriage where it is one of my most prized possessions.On it, I place some of my quilts or vintage doilies with seasonal displays such as this one from Christmas, I redo it for Easter and for patriotic holidays, as well.

It represents my heritage, my ancestry, and the past events that have shaped who I am, what I love, and all that I do. I treasure old things as much as I welcome in the new.

Here, is an antique train case that I received as a gift from my youngest daughter that is holding the remaining Valentines that I have kept for this purpose.

And below, are some of the most recent ones that I have created from more of my bits and bobs of fabric, laces and trims. This one for my oldest daughter and her partner. Made with great love and wild abandon as I sat and sewed on a vintage sewing machine blending the old with the new.

I call what I do 'graffiti' quilting. I sew as quickly and as wildly as I can with utter free motion abandon and all ends left flying in the breeze.  The wind, if you remember, carries our loving wishes across the miles whether the messages are our thoughts or in my case, my artistic creations of prayer flags or Fabric + Paper Art Cards.

This one for my youngest and her partner. Again, adding whatever bits and pieces I love and ones that I hope they will, as well..front and back.

And repeated photos of ones made this past week.  Two fronts...

The front of one card for my son and his wife and our brand new little grand-daughter.

And below the back. Two hearts created their family of three.

If I do an extra fun job, when I look at the photos, I can't tell which is a front and which is a back as they are all decorative in different ways.

So, I look for my wild zig zag seam in the middle and if its on the left it's a front, and on the right, it's a back.  :-)

And another one with my beloved burlap, leftover from a purchase of 36 yards I bought to make table runners, for our outdoor decorative plant bags to surround a daughter's wedding reception in a lovely old restored barn.  A DIY wedding in all ways with everyone pitching in. I designed and made her dress, made the paper for her invitations, we made the invitations, her sister grew the flowers, and made all of the bouquets and table arrangements.

Making and creating..all of us in all of the ways that we know how and can.

And here's another one....before the decorative edging was finished...but still cute! Oh, I do love making cards! I must have made 50 in my mom and mom in law's time for gift giving. So much fun!!

  A collage from just the first batch.

  And to you reading here, all of my very best wishes for a wonderful day.

You are loved and you are so appreciated! 

Fabric + Paper = My Valentine Fun!

 Making Valentine Hearts and Love

Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey from Alaska to Oregon with thousands of free Quilting, Sewing, and Crafting Patterns and Tutorials. Help change the world, one little quilt, art quilt, and prayer flag at a time!


Joyce Carter said...

Happy Valentines Day, Michele!

Michele Bilyeu said...

Happy Valentine's Day, Joyce, and all of the lovelies on facbook with your likes and comments, too!

IHaveANotion ~ Kelly Jackson said...

What a rich story you filled my heart and I felt for a few moments like I was reading a wonderful book and was lost in the richness of the story. The main character I admire very much!


Michele Bilyeu said...

Oh, Kelly! You are just the very best! Thank you!

quiltmom anna said...

Let me try this again.. I was signed out of google and my first comment went up into the cyber space ether.. VBS..
What a wonderful post Michele.. I love hearts and you have inspired me to make something heart shaped today.. perhaps a hand made Valentine for my spouse or valentine pot holders..
I really enjoyed your family story.. I can see that your family traits include resilience and creative energy to make good from whatever happens. Resilience to deal with life's challenges and gifts is something that is difficult to teach others. In my professional life, I am awestruck how some children are able to deal with some very challenging things while others are knocked down by things that seem less problematic.. There is no predicting where that inner core resilience comes from but some of my little ones amaze me.
Thank you for sharing your gifts and talents with others. May you know how much you are loved by others. With warmest wishes and a big cyber hug, Anna

Michele Bilyeu said...

Oh, Anna! You are absolutely just the very best! Thank you and I hope you sew and share your heart today as I know you do every day you are able to sew!

Marilyn McLeod @ Pink Paper Cottage said...

This was a very special post... I love all of your posts about your family history and this one was, as Anna said, especially inspiring... hearing about your grandmother's sewing machine really touched my heart! Our ancestors definitely DID have resilience to face the disasters that befell them..... our generation of today, I think, has lost alot of that resilience. I'm so happy that you have your grandmother's sewing machine to remind you of your history. I have one piece of furniture that I absolutely CHERISH that my parents had since before I was born. I was so fascinated with it and would sit at it for hours, drawing and putting things in the little cubbyholes... I have moved it with me wherever I go, and it is the one thing I would NEVER ever get rid of. It too reminds me of my mother and family and my childhood. Am trying to figure out how to add a picture of my beloved desk, but so far, no go. Will do another comment if I figure it out!!! Also... your wild and free cards are amazing! I want to sit down and do that! Doing that free style sewing would make wonderful prayer flags, so that sweet loving prayers could fly in the wind to those who need an extra special blessing. Warm "heart" wishes to you! Marilyn

Michele Bilyeu said...

Beautiful comment, Marilyn! You share my heart and know of what I speak, truly! Unfortunately comments don't allow photos as far as I know. Phooey! Send it to me in a letter, I would love to see it!!! Warm heart wishes to you, as well!!

Scrappy quilter said...

They are absolutely wonderful. And your sewing machine...what a beautiful story. I use to have one, however when we downsized and moved I sold mine.