Sunday, July 24, 2011

My Mama's Creativity



Since I can remember, my mother has always taken some course or another during my childhood that enhanced her creative side. Our house was always filled with things that she had made and helped bring on the idea that not everything in our home should be bought. 

I will list the courses that I remember;
1. Ikebana, Japanese flower arrangement.
2. Dough Flowers.
3. Silk Flowers.
4. Batik
5. Silk Painting

On top of all this, she made some woolen carpet hangings and had known how to embroider, be it regular needle work or Palestinian... My mother, bless her soul, made sure to teach me how to do it as well. I remember my first piece was that of a lion and it took ages for me to finished it... I was not much into needle work and it did not spark my interest but she  believed that every person needs to learn or have a hobby that would keep them busy while growing up.  I used to give up easily... or work on it a little to appease my mother and then leave it for  a few days... I know now that I have the patience to see a piece through till the end but that kind of patience needed much training at that age.

Never once, during my time growing up, did I see my mother sit in front of the TV without something between her hands. She had to be doing something. I smile remembering this as I sit in front of the TV either zonked or with my computer for extra entertainment. 


My mother now fills her time making Palestinian embroidered Aba'as, which are worn over clothes, shawls and scarves. They take months to finish as they are embroidered on material made from camel hair and then another few months for my mom to place the beads on them. She has made a small business of selling them and each one of her creations is more beautiful than the other. Whenever she brings out one of them to show me, I stand in awe of her talent, impeccable sense of color and design. She is truly my inspiration even though my grandmother is just as inspirational as my mother. 

You see... my mother's creative sense was handed down to her from my Tata who still embroiders till now at 92 years old... but I will address this generation of embroiderers in a later post. As my later post revealed (People Who Helped Shape Me Part II), my grandmother handmade her piano seat, made designs on them by burning leather and adding metal work to them during her life in Palestine and so it is no wonder that my mother is so much into Arts and Crafts. 

My beloved mother taught me how to fill my time with creative activities and even though I am not as talented as she is, I enjoy sharing such activities with my children. I believe that creativity frees the soul and provides me with so much joy. When I finish anything, I feel a sense of accomplishment, however, I need to take on one thing... my Tata and mother's ethics when creating such pieces. My Tata and mother will pull out every stitch they made, no matter how far they have gone and how much time it has taken them, if they found one single small mistake in the pieces they had created.... they follow the Prophet Mohammad's teaching, "If you do anything, do it well and perfect it." I am like this with my work as a teacher, but need to pay more attention to details when I fabric paint. 

Following are pictures of some of my mother's pieces of work....
This is one of my mother's needle work pieces... I love it and call it Tree of Life. I remember that it took her forever to finish it and that she could not hang it until my parents moved into their new apartment. I am not sure what the stitch is called but it is definitely not the cross stitch which she uses for the Palestinian embroidery ... it is only one half of it.... I think it is called a half stitch.


The above two are the usual American bought needle work. I remember her using a round wooden circle to tighten the material to be able to embroider.I remember her not liking the type of cat that was sitting on top of the quilt... so she decided to change it and just extend the quilt. Some of the fern leaves in this one are actually protruding from the canvas.


The above two are the carpets she made using a tool which pulled the woolen thread through the canvas. I loved helping her with this one.My favorite part of the carpet are the sheep... they are so fluffy and cute!

One of her many silk paintings... she made this into a pillow... others she framed as pictures.


The above two are examples of her Palestinian embroidery... my sister is wearing the Aba'a. It is embroidered on Iraqi material, called Najafi, made from camel hair. She brought together my father's background together with her own. I remember going to Syria with her to buy them from a Syrian merchant and he had bags and bags of beautifully colored material.
Making this takes months as they have to embroider on a white canvas that is attached to the black Najafi material and after they embroider each section or part of the Aba'as separately, they had to pull the white canvas threads one by one from underneath each stick so that it would appear on the black... There are many different colors of the material and so many designs that my mother put together.... 
After this whole fiasco... she places the beads which takes hours up on hours of work.

A few of her earliest creations... not the kids (My brother and my baby cousin at the time) ... but the white and yellow daisy flowers on the white table... these are made from dough which she made from bread mixed with glue I think.... The yellow crochetted piece is made by my paternal grandfather who taught herself this hobby. 
In the background you can see a green Gardenia tree which she made from material she cut into leaves, ironed the streaks on them and did the same with the white flowers... it stayed in our house for years... unfortunately the color of the paint faded.... 
You can also see a part of the dough sunflowers in the frame in the background... these were my favorite.

These flowers arranged in Ikebana style  are made from silk... I remember her finding the piece of wood she arranged them on lying on the Dead Sea Beach. 

 Footnote: Some of the pictures are old and are pictures of old pictures...

10 comments:

Jan said...

How beautiful the embroidery and the silk painting is. Such skill and much patience, as you say. Thanks for sharing these. Your sister looks beautiful too in the Aba'a. How wondeful that such talents and skills were handed down from her own mother. we miss so much of these traditional crafts these days don't we?

Ofelia said...

Such a lovely post! Thanks for sharing your mami's work and your families photos. Your sister is as gorgeous as you!
And your abuela (grandma) is 92 and still being creative is a blessing in the skies.

Birdie said...

Blogger just ate my comment.

Your mom is indescribably talented! The Aba'a is one of the most beautiful pieces of clothing I have ever seen. I even called my family over to see it!

Tabouleh said...

Thank you all for your sweet compliments to my mom... she is an amazing woman and an inspiration to me... I have so much to strive for and improve on before I can come close to anything she does...

Tabouleh said...

oh I forgot to add.... Thank you as well for your compliments to my sister and I...

Isa said...

Waw! I just love the Aba'a! That is real creativity!

paula devi said...

Lana you are so blessed to have your mama and tata and be surrounded and fed all of their talents and wisdom and love. The world of women is such a special gift. Your sister is beautiful - no surprise - Your mama's hand work is wonderful. I especially love the Aba'a. I have one like it and treasure it like a museum piece. I also studied Palstinian embroidery (I think I ripped out more than I stitched). Now I feel the motivtion to unpack the box with all my old work pieces. And I love the Tree of Life. I also see in your sister's picture the beautiful home of your parents?

paula devi said...

what beautiful work your mama does. I especially like the Tree of Life though everything is beautiful. There is such of varaiety of art forms. I have an Aba's that I treasure - it's amazing the work that goes into making one. When you think that once upon a time women sat together and did this kind of embroidery and other works of art and they started learning from their moms, aunties and grandmothers when they were so young. You have a beautiful sister, which is no surprise. How magical for you and your sister to have both your grandmother and your mom - three generations of women is such a blessing for all of you. actually four genertions with your daughter. are you writing old stories of family history to save?

Tabouleh said...

Thank you all for such awesome comments... I just came back from a day away visiting an old friend who is going away to live in Phuket for a while... he gave us such wonderful news, that they are expecting a baby... so exciting...
Paula... you are such a sweetheart... I love you... everything you wrote about I had in mind... I think we think alike... I made it a point that on our last day there, that I take a photo of the four generations... and I will be writing a post on that soon... I also took photos of embroidery my sister and I made as well as my tata embroidering... to write about how that skill is learned and passed on from mother to daughter... will write soon about that! I am so impressed by you learning how to embroider.... that is awesome... I will write about my own adventures soon... won't give anything away...LOL

I hope you are all doing well and are strong... despite being away, you were on my mind...

Samia Khairy said...

Lana I cannot believe I missed reading this post by now! I am really moved and honored to read what my talented daughter wrote about her grandmother and mother. So sweet of you and all of your sweet friends to comment on my humble efforts!