Oh, how lucky can a person be? I’m surrounded by creative souls that keep my sense of awe alive. I have a tiny family — four in all — but both my husband and two children have wonderfully creative spirits. Oh, I know I’m creative with words, but it’s just not as visual. The holiday frenzy of retail gift buying right now constantly reminds me that the best gifts are always something given from the heart, handmade if you can swing it. Give me homemade fudge and I’m yours forever.
This copper wire tree marvel was created by my son Jesse. It sits in front of an extra large cloud painting that my daughter surprised us with one Christmas. The cloud canvas is 4’ X 6’ and won’t fit into our tiny home so it decorates my husband’s shop instead. It was meant to give us a “window” where there was none. Brilliant, Christy. The copper tree was meticulously created for Jesse’s love at the time, but we have since inherited it. He’s an electrician, after all, but how could anyone have this much patience, let alone expertise?
I asked him about the process. “I stripped the insulation off a large amount of #10 AWG stranded THHN wire, then cut the wire into four foot lengths and uncoiled and straightened the individual strands. After putting all of the wires together, I twisted them strongly with a couple of pipe wrenches to achieve the trunk, which ended up about two inches in diameter. I’d practiced with smaller trees and had developed a good method for splitting the trunk into branches in a way that seemed natural. The roots of the tree and the branches are formed in a similar manner, by repeatedly splitting the wire groups and twisting each before further splitting until reaching single wires. The trunk was too springy so there’s a metal rod inserted to give it more strength. I then put it in a Bonzai pot, used epoxy to hold the roots, and filled it in with dirt and rock. I made it in secret for my fiancé and it took a dozen evenings to complete. The tree ended up outside next to the other potted plants, and one morning I found three newly hatched chickadees roosting in its branches.”
Christy is an artist who has a super duper creative eye, through a camera lens and on a canvas. She’s been experimenting with acrylic pour painting for a while now and is starting to market her recent works. They not only liven up the darkest of corners but, as you tilt your head from side to side, they provoke your brain into “What does this remind me of?” The beauty of abstract is that every brain sees something different.
My husband Bill has a funkier style and likes to think outside the box! When I asked him to make a table decoration for my monthly dinner/dance, he came up with a doozy. Each dance has a different theme and this particular month was “Weird n’ Wild”. Here we have a square platform and some household items: thistles and moss from the yard and sawed off root beer cans, all glued, spray painted and mounted on a Rubbermaid turntable. The stuffed animals nestled in each can are from Goodwill and had to have their heads chopped off so they would fit in the cans! Now, I ask you, who thinks of these things?
I’ve been reflecting on all the wondrous things my family has created over the years. Then I think about the craziness of Black Friday shopping. The difference between retail gifts and those made with loving hands and thoughtfulness is vast, but it seems like the main difference is time. Handmade takes more of it than retail, which is a mere mouse click away. Life circumstances and creative bents dictate the handmade part, but I wonder if I could come up with more meaningful gifts if I just took more time to think about it. Then again, I don’t have the creative brains that the rest of my family does.
It’s more obvious to me than ever this year that the gift we all really need is “more time”. I don’t know, is the bustle worse? Or have I just celebrated too many holiday seasons!