Many years ago, as the new bride of an Airman stationed at Loring Air Force Base, Maine, I discovered the inspirational and restorative power of arts and crafts.
That fall, we drove from Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, Louisiana to Caribou, Maine. Our ancient Chevy Impala towed the smallest trailer U-Haul rented filled with everything we owned – not much. Money was tight and moving is always a strain on the budget.
We were extremely lucky to find furnished lodgings in a newly renovated rental house that was split into four units. All the tenants were newly transferred Airman as well. We became close friends and life settled into a workaday routine for everyone – except me. I was pregnant with our first child and back in those days, couldn’t get a job.
So here I was, alone for most of the day, in a strange tiny town that just barely tolerated the influx of outsiders that were associated with the base.
Arts and crafts saved my sanity.
I found a job with Avon cosmetics selling their products door to door. That got me out of the house and canvassing my assigned neighborhood. Then I used that piddly amount of money to buy a used portable sewing machine and to order yards of fabric at the local Sears Catalog store.
First, I sewed several beautiful maternity tops and one lovely dress. That was my wardrobe sorted. Then I whipped up a complete infant layette from booties to onesies and even a little hat.
We four couples spent many winter evenings together, ordering a pizza, sharing a six-pack. Sometimes, we splurged on cheese, fruit, and a bottle of wine while watching the northern lights with awe-struck fascination. I dragged out my watercolors and made some horrible attempts at capturing those incredible skies.
My husband and I were still strapped for money when Christmas neared. I didn’t feel we should buy Christmas ornaments when I could easily make them from my junk box. You know that box – that collection of left over fabric scraps, glitter, old jewelry, felt, crepe paper, sequins, buttons, ribbon, and rick-rack tail ends? My husband donated the use of his model paints along with a pile of leftover bits of balsa wood.
Using empty egg cartons as the base structure for the decorations, I fashioned a couple dozen unique ornaments. They turned out so well that I sent them as gifts for our families back in Ohio.
Only three ornaments have survived the many years since that Christmas. They are precious to me. I am overwhelmed with sentiment each year I unwrap these lovely little time capsules. They reaffirm my need for art and how it enriched even the most deprived times in my life.
Want to get your hands on Cheryl Hollon’s latest novel,SHATTERED AT SEA? Click on the cover below!
Cheryl Hollon now writes full-time after she left an engineering career of designing and building military flight simulators in amazing countries such as England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, and India. Fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, she combines her love of writing with a passion for creating glass art. In the small glass studio behind her house in St. Petersburg, Florida, Cheryl and her husband design, create, and produce fused glass, stained glass, and painted glass artworks. Visit her online at CherylHollon.com, on Facebook at CherylHollonWriter, or on Twitter @CherylHollon.