I recently took on the task of writing a history of my mother's life, an idea that started when my sister and I were pre-planning our mother's funeral - which hopefully won't be for many years - but a good idea to get most of the decisions made in advance. It was when we saw the prices charged by the funeral home for a visitor's book and for memorial books that I suggested I would make a handbound book that we could customize as we wanted.
We would include not just the story of her life, but also some photos, a family tree, and, when the time comes, the obituary and funeral program and a section for visitors to sign. The book I have since made is hardcover with a fabric cover, and bound using Japanese Stab Stitch style.
Writing her history was not as daunting as I first thought it would be, indeed the more I learned about my mother, the closer it made me feel to her. And I think it will be an interesting read for family and friends, to get to know a bit more about her, not just as an aunt or grandmother, but as the woman she is, her interests, her legacy.
I started with a mind dump of facts as I knew them, and then organized the information chronologically. Next I added more facts and dates that I found in photo albums and old scrapbooks, plus some information gleaned from a few family members. To make it read more like a story I rearranged and re-wrote some parts, at times jumping ahead a few years, then picking up again where we had left off.
The edits are almost done, I'm very pleased with how it reads. I do feel I know more about her than I did before starting this project. She has had some interesting stories throughout her life and now those are recorded for future generations. Of course her story is not over yet, and so the final version won't be put into our handmade book for some time yet.
I do want to mention one person who was of tremendous help to me during this project and that is writer Lee Ann Eckhardt Smith who was invited to my book club one evening a few months back. When we learned she gave workshops on writing memoirs and family histories, we were hooked and arranged for her to give a workshop to our group. It was that workshop and her guidance that allowed me polish the story and make it a story that others will want to read. For more information on Lee Ann's workshops, visit her website at http://www.leeanneckhardtsmith.com/
My husband is renovating our fireplace surround and we were fortunate to score a fabulous piece of barnwood to use as the new mantle.
The piece is gorgeous, however the underside and both ends looked like new wood, not the beautiful grey on the top and sides.
So we turned to google to ascertain how to age the wood to match the barnwood colour. The recommended solution was to steep steel wool in a container of vinegar overnight or up to 24 hours, strain, mix with water, then spray or brush the solution onto the wood. The only risk was that the wood could turn dark brown rather than grey. Ours did.
But there was a solution for that too; by simply adding a mixture of baking soda and water to the treated area, the shade of brown would fade to some degree. After a bit of testing and a little bit of time, we were tickled pink - er, tickled grey - to discover it had worked. We now have a piece of wood with the aged look of barnwood on all sides.
Of course there are a number of variables with both of these solutions; how long to soak the steel wool, how much to soak, how much vinegar to use, does it need to be watered down, how much baking soda to mix with how much water, and so on. But with a little bit of time and patience, we
got exactly what we wanted, and without the use of store-bought dyes or chemicals.
Our new mantle is now in place; next up: hearth and stone.
The pictures below show:
Left - The nice part of the barn board, showing browns and blue-greys.
Middle - The underside of a testing piece. The dark part at the bottom and middle were both brushed with the vinegar solution, the bottom one with more water and less vinegar. The light brown part at the top was prior to any solution being added.
Right - The final piece - notice how much closer the colour is to the colour in the first photo.
Awakening the heart
Artist - Anne Warburton
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It's taken years to discover the medium I enjoy the most. And how what I have learned before somehow fits into what I am doing now. Even when I travel my needles and threads are with me so I can continue to create while away.