For many of us, our crafty roots are set securely in our mother’s guidance and influence. Often it was our moms who inspired us to pick up a needle, paint brush, or bottle of glue and try our hands at crafting. In celebration of Mother’s Day, I’m profiling three of these mother/daughter crafty duos this week, and their stories of inspiration through generations will hopefully inspire you as well.
Maura Madden has some distinctive memories of her early crafting experiences with her mom. “I can remember making Christmas ornaments out of dough when I was really little,” she says. “It’s made with flour and salt, amongst other edible things, so when I decided I should eat it, I remember that it actually tasted kind of good. I think I must have been pretty little, because I outgrew the phase of eating my craft supplies pretty early on.”
Her mom, Pam Madden, has memories that make no mention of Maura’s penchant for tasting the craft supplies, but hold a similar sense of playfulness and fun times together. She remembers making a dollhouse out of a shoebox and decorating it with Maura using construction paper, fabric, and old wooden spools. From the beginning, Pam’s daily craft projects with her children seemed to hold a more important lesson than just occupying time on a quiet afternoon. “My mom was really committed to making my childhood, and my brother’s, a highly creative one,” Maura says.
Pam’s mother is an artist by nature, and taught Pam how to knit when she was only 10 years old. To this day, Pam has a group of friends with whom she herself has crafted since she was 12 years old. Her own mother’s influence helped Pam realize the possibilities of found objects and colors, but also seemed a bit limiting because of her mother’s “neatnik” tendencies. “When I started crafting with my daughter,” Pam says. “I tried to be more open to her ideas and let her use her imagination and not ‘only color in the lines.’ ”
This openness helped nurture Maura’s own crafting style, which is highly distinctive from her mother’s. “I am a totally sloppy, make-my-own-rules crafter,” Maura says. “And I am not persistent when it comes to crafting — I will often give up on a project before it’s been completed so I can pick up a new one that seems more appealing.” She says her mom, on the other hand, is meticulous and will stick with a difficult project no matter how frustrating the process may be. “The coolest thing about her craft style is the fact that she is able to be really precise without being obsessive, and enjoy the challenge.” says Maura. “And she is an incredibly talented artist. I am honestly in awe of her skill and her creativity. ”
Pam is in awe of Maura as well. “She is a much looser crafter — very confident and easygoing,” Pam says. “I have the need for more directions and accuracy, but wish I had her innate sense of style.” And yet, with their differences, they actually have a lot in common. “Our crafting styles are very different, but our crafty goals are the same: to make one-of-a-kind gifts for our loved ones and ourselves,” Maura says. “I love giving a gift that is completely unique, because I know that people really value the time and love that goes into something handmade.”
Maura and Pam both shared memories of taking a quilting class together that — while it highlighted their different approaches to crafting — was a true bonding experience for them. Each week, they would meet and eat dinner and head to class together. “It was a lovely way for us to be together expanding our craft knowledge,” Pam says. In fact, it seems that Maura and Pam’s shared craft experiences outshine any crafting they may do on their own. “Every experience crafting with my mom is a blast,” Maura says. “We are always cracking each other up, especially because she is meticulous but very supportive, and I am sloppy but headstrong. So it’s a funny combo.”
Their crafty afternoons together served as inspiration for Maura’s book, Crafternoon, and Pam has attended almost every one of Maura’s Crafternoon gatherings. “Crafting with folks outside of my generation is really important to me. It brings a new sensibility and skill set to the mix, whether the crafters are older or younger,” Maura says. “I just love having her be a part of the crafty good times, especially since she is the source of all my craftiness. ”
Maura Madden, 33, lives in Brooklyn, New York, as does her mother, Pam Madden, 64. Her first book, Crafternoon, was released last year and serves as a monthly guide for getting artsy and crafty with friends all year long.