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The rantings and ramblings of Kimberly Allison

Friday, July 16, 2010

All That We May Leave Behind

My necklace "Autumn's Song" will be among that I leave behind

The lady at the estate sale gave me a brave smile. "Everything is for sale, even inside the house. My parents have both passed and we need to clear things out." I gave a quiet condolence and asked her how she was doing. Her eyes immediately got misty. "I am doing well. In fact, I haven't cried for weeks. But when I came over this morning, I came across funny little objects that remind me of my mom and I start to cry all over again."

As I sorted through the boxes and rooms, a few things started to come out. The daughter must have been a majorette 'way-back-when', as boxes of trophies and competition programs were found. And judging by the boxes of sequins, trims and beads, most of her costumes must have been lovingly sewn by hand.

Back home I started sorting through my new treasures. I found some of the most beautifully beaded vintage trim that I have ever seen. A few glass beads were found carefully tucked away in a medicine bottle from 1985. Some tiny plastic babies gave me a smile. A teddy bear trivet was too saccharine for my taste so I will pass it off to another. A sealed bag of sequins shows that we shop at the some Los Angeles trim store.

And its here that I began to lose myself in thought.

When we die, we know we leave our earthly possessions... no matter how hard we may cling to them. Heirlooms may trigger wars between brother and sister. Appliances and cars are sold off. Houses vacated and placed on the market... the resulting profits carefully divided between family. But in almost every case, it seems that these lovely vintage treasures of beads, findings and supplies are simply boxed up and cheaply sold, if not given away. They seldom have a sentimental value, and frequently, not much of a monetary value as well.

I am now starting to sort my new pretties for use in my studio. I pour myself a cool drink to ward off the hot summer day and somewhere in a different realm, I am introduced to another artist. It's almost like she is there beside me. I can hear her tell me about the cute outfit she made her daughter using the gold sequins. The fantastic sale she found on embroidered patches... at a quarter each, she couldn't resist buying a dozen. I can hear a soft laugh as she tells me as she tells me about a partially made set of earrings that she tucked away in disgusts as she couldn't get the beading to lay flat. Those plastic babies were from a baby shower and she couldn't bear to part with any extra, since they were so cute.

It's a language that all artists understand... but those of us who work in vintage and antique media are the most fluent. We love and appreciate these treasures. You can't find these in aisle 3B at Michaels after all.

You can't help but wonder about your own mortality at these times. While my finished designs may be sought by a future grandchild, I can't help wonder about the supplies that I will leave. The scores of antique buttons. The tiny faience beads that adorned an ancient mummy and now sit behind a glass frame. My hand-made molds for my ceramic pendants. All the things that make my art and soul my own.

I wonder if my sons will host an estate sale. Will a future artist find my supplies as compelling as I do? And will we have a mystic conversation about the things that I may leave behind?