When my mum decided to decorate birthdays around country themes she also exposed us to the dances, culture, cuisine, and costumes of the particular land in question. Part of the birthday fun included dressing up with whatever we could find that looked something like the costumes of the country. Scotland, Switzerland, Greece, Russia,India, Croatia, Macedonia,Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Portugal,Hungary, Argentina, Japan, Australia, Sweden, Italy, Ukraine, Lithuania, Ireland, England, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Serbia, Morocco, Holland, Africa, and Tropical Islands represent some of the birthday choices.
As we shopped around at garage sales and thrift shops, and sometimes at ethnic festivals and online sites, we found scarves, belts, aprons, and fabric that contributed to our dress-up collection. Soon I was hooked on making doll costumes for various dolls (there ARE seven of us girls in the family, so we have MANY dolls), AND for people! (Scroll down for family photos of home-made costumes.)
THE highlight of our explorations into other cultures, since we cannot personally visit other countries, was our discovery of the Duquesne University Tamburitzans. The lady who designs and sews the amazing costumes for this talented group was so helpful in coaching me, via email, in my endeavors to duplicate the costumes (especially pleats for my butterfly skirt for my Serbian costume, and for my sister's Hungarian skirt). The videos and programs from the shows have been highly beneficial for choosing designs and fabrics and for helping me figure out how to design my own patterns.
Laura-Lise looked so adorable in a colorful, beribboned Ukrainian outfit, complete with flowered wreath, and now Katia wears it!
We have had a few International Balls with our homeschool group, and for that we became very ambitious, fabricating two Serbian costumes,Greek outfits, Polish costumes, a Transylvanian outfit, Hungarian skirts and vests, Dutch, German, and Russian outfits, and more!
About two years ago, I thought about how fun it would be to make little girls' dresses inspired by international folkwear. Our numerous volumes on the topic gave me ideas, and I set to work drawing sketches of the dresses I hoped to make. It is so rewarding to design dresses that have lots of trim and other features of international folk clothing that can actually be worn for fun! I have taken these creations to the Land of Goshen Farmer's Market in Edwardsville, Illinois, and I now have my own Etsy shop!
My days are full of sewing, as well as other projects. I love to play violin, clarinet, and piano, and to teach music to my younger sisters. Various birthday gifts also provide me with quiet handiwork, such as lace-making, and trim weaving, and I still love art. I haven't worked with oils much recently, but I did an acrylic painting of the view from our backyard for my dad's birthday, and I plan on continuing the form of art at the market this coming year. For my mum's birthday I was able to paint three little pictures of Italy to go in a hanging trio frame she has in the dining room, and my grandma was the recipient of simple painted flower note cards. Water colors are fun, too, but I have not had much time to get into that lately.
Rubber stamping (I made rubber stamps of my own, available also on Etsy), card-making, pottery, painting on ceramics, carving, oriental art (I once painted a tiny pagoda scene on a chicken egg), knitting, beading (see Etsy again), Pysanky (Ukrainian egg "batiking"), embroidery, bead embroidery,constructing desinger snowmen, making miniatures and miniature scenes, and architecture are included in my interests.
I also enjoy studying the Bible and world history with my family, writing to friends, reading, ice-skating, sledding, hiking, visiting with friends, watching the occasional movie, learning new vocabulary, and helping out with my younger brothers and sisters. We always have such fun times, especially talking, eating, and playing games together.
Although I am supposed to be my siblings' art teacher, they are becoming excellent artists on their own in their free time, taking up pencil and paper while my mum reads to us in the evening! I do enjoy working with them on different techniques. Each year CHEF (http://www.chef-missouri.com/) hosts an art festival, and the children regularly take first and second prize!