Fine Art

Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

Saturday, while Bill and I were spending the afternoon volunteering as docents at the Senoia History Museum, a charming couple from Raleigh, North Carolina spent two hours walking from room to room, fascinated by our town’s history as it is displayed in the 1870’s Greek Revival home on the corner of Couch Street.
Tim and Stephanie, both huge fans of The Walking Dead series, have visited Senoia six or seven times. Today was their first visit inside the walls of “Alexandria,” the fictional community harboring refugees from the ongoing Zombie threat. They said it was a terrific tour; they were allowed to step off the bus and wander around the area of the windmill but were restricted from the homeowners’ residences close by.
I am not sure what draws them here so often, but they are completely enthralled with the charm of Senoia as much as they are with the scene locales from the show. Of course, they love our restaurants, the famous breakfast at the Veranda Inn where they love to stay, but said with great disappointment, “It is always full; by the time we call there is not a single room available.”
This was also their very first visit to our museum, and by the time they left they were sold on returning in May for what I told them was Senoia at its finest. The town goes all out on Memorial Day, honoring our military with a 1950’s style parade, delicious carnival food, the Senoia Area Historical Society’s delicious ice-cold, hand-squeezed lemonade made from an old secret recipe entrusted to members of the Society. I told them about the speeches, flag waving, and the very professional fireworks show just after dark at Merrimac Lake.
They were also very excited about our yearly Yard Sale and Auction we hold in April and November respectively. Tim tried to buy the Daisy BB gun donated by past Senoia Junior Commando member Miss Kathryn “Callie” Welden, the only card-carrying girl of that young group who “patrolled” the bustling little town in the 1950s, keeping it safe. Miss Welden is also responsible for donating many of the museum’s beautiful lighted display cases. Still working to make the world a better place, Callie is down in Honduras on a mission trip!
Unfortunately, Tim and Stephanie will be unable to stay until Thursday night, February 14th when the Annual February Exhibit opens at the Senoia History Museum with a stunning display of the fabric art of local artist Claudia Wood. The exhibit will remain open during the regular hours (1pm to 4pm) Friday and Saturday through March 3rd, but the champagne and homemade sugar cookie hearts served on Valentine’s Eve, sadly, will have disappeared.
Claudia’s multi-media quilt pieces range from full coverlet size to small 16” X 20” jewels perfect for hanging anywhere in the home where one would display a Rembrandt or Picasso! Several of the pieces include handwritten poems by Claudia, their subject emphasized by the fabric choices Claudia has made for the surrounding “frame.”
I have a number of quilts inherited or gifted to me by my mother who was an excellent seamstress and a fine quilter, though she did not do ornamental or fabric art. Well, unless you count the sweaters she beaded and did ribbon roses on when we lived in Portsmouth, Virginia. I still, to this day, do not know where the packages of soft cashmere-like, dress cardigans came from—big boxes shipped to our home there in Portsmouth where Daddy was stationed after he returned from Korea. Inside were all the supplies, beads thread, appliques, and pattern “suggestions” for how to embellish the front and shoulders of these elegant sweaters, for she always found a better, more beautiful design. I remember her sitting on the sofa under the big picture window, sunlight pouring in, her lap mounded with the soft, kitten-like fabric; it was a great place to sew, but also a place where she could keep an eye on my much younger sister and brother. She would lay her piece-work aside every half hour or so and take a 10-minute coffee and cigarette break, then “refueled,” it was back to work. Mother always found ways to supplement the family income while remaining a stay-at-home mom. Sometimes sewing, sometimes “keeping books” for a small business. Thinking back to those days just before my wedding, I believe Mother probably paid for the gorgeous flowers and the beautifully tiered bridal cake with “Sweater Money.” Daddy begrudging paid for the rest. He did not want me to marry so young, but he learned to love Bill and they became great friends.
What Mom was doing, called “cottage industry,” is ancient and was a grand way for folks with talent in one area or another to make a good supplementary income. It is nothing new, and today the number of people who work from home is astonishing. With the advent and maturity of technology, there is very little that cannot be ordered and delivered to our homes. Someone, somewhere is punching those keys! I know many young women who home school their children and act as “jobbers” for clothing merchants. I cleaned apartments and kept books when my girls were in elementary school. Not exactly a cottage industry, but I was inside, working on my own schedule and I could have the girls with me (not scrubbing, only playing games). Unfortunately, I had no talent as a seamstress with which I could earn extra money, and could not create any kind of Art, fabric or otherwise. Bill loves to share a story about my attempts to hem a pair of Bermuda shorts for him. Remember them? Yes, men also wore them, usually plaid.
I, too, remember when he tried them on and we both fell out laughing at the Bloomers I had created! The hem was gathered tightly around his thighs. Not cute. Nope. But, you know what? He never asked me to hem anything again.

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