The Power of Hand Made

Breathless in White Peonies, 16X16, oil, information

Yesterday a friend showed me one of her most treasured possessions, a quilt her grandmother had made by hand. Even though it was layered between a stack of newer blankets in bright colors and patterns, I couldn’t help but reach past those to touch its frayed edges and time-faded yellow squares. There is a power that stretches across time and space when you recognize something made by hand with love. It’s not the toil, the time, or the materials, but the care behind the making that resonates.

So much of what ties us together in families and friendship are those things created by women and passed down through time. My grandmother’s embroidered designs hang framed in my studio, and my great aunt’s paintings line our hallway. My mother’s crocheted afghan is in the bedroom. The recipes these three women shared across a century will be cooked and prepared in a few weeks on Thanksgiving Day.

The power of making and creating something real, something non-digital, something tangible and intentionally crafted with love is the everyday work of artists. We may not have generations ahead, some of us have no children, but there will be a legacy of created works in our wake. Is it any wonder that there are so many women artists in this world? And aren’t we powered equally by the act of making as we are rewarded in the giving of these precious gifts we leave behind?

What precious thing has tied you to this Earth with memories and love, made by someone in your past, a family member, or loved one? I would love to hear from you!





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Reader Interactions


  1. In 2003 I lost yr19 year old daughter, Katie, in a tragic car accident. She was her Hs valedictorian, a concert pianist and a talented artist. My walls are covered in her Art work. She was always in my studio with me as she was growing up. Learned to make pottery on my wheels and learned to paint quite well winning many art competitions. Her work is a constant reminder of her life.

    • Linda my heart goes out to you, I’m glad you have her creations around you and hope they give you comfort, especially with the holidays coming up. I know you think of her every single day. What an extraordinary girl! Sending comfort to you…

  2. This year we lost our youngest sister, a generous, creative person who made winter clothing for the women’s centre, quilts for orphanages and many gifts for her 3 sisters and family. A heartbreaking loss. I had originally made her a quilt top and gifted her for all her work in our project together to make quilts for donation to the fire victims in Fort Mac, Alberta. She had had it quilted and left it for me. Treasure this forever. It made me think of what I have to leave behind that might be meaningful. So I decided to take my pictures and journals and combine them as best I could into sketchbooks, with drawings, paint, markers, little things I had collected…stories of travels…something to pass down and that may be meaningful and they would have room for.

    • Kathy what a beautiful idea – I’m sad to hear you lost your sister, but so glad you have these good memories and beautiful mementos to help remember all the time you spent together creating, and helping others.

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