Saturday, October 3, 2015

UPA Column Babcia's House

This month at Unruly PaperArts blogozine, the creative contributors were given free reign with an Anything Goes theme.  My article was posted on October 3, 2015 HERE

For my anything goes project, I chose to alter a Prima shadow box house into my grandmother's house.  She was Polish so we called her by the Polish diminuative for babunia which is Babcia. What you will see in this house is a representation in miniature of the many items that were part of life inside her Milwaukee home.  Many of these items currently have found a loving place in my home. This article contains my musings of an era gone by.

Here is the article, along with photos of the actual items represented in miniature in the shadow box.

Let's start with the Prima house itself.  I wanted the alteration to reflect a turn-of-the-century home. The "wallpaper" is from the Authentique Classique:Beauty collection.   I chose it because of it's gold and black patterns, common in early 1900's decor. (These items were purchased at my lls, the Paper Boutique.)  I purchased many Prima resin furnishings for it as they reflected the furniture I remembered seeing in Babcia's front room.    Does anyone else remember furniture covered with heavy see-through plastic? Some of the miniatures to fill the rooms were acquired from Alpha Stamps, an on-line store.  The chipboards are Kaiser Craft.

After having gone through the Great Depression and World War II rationing, some items may have been purchased during the boom after the war.  However, with the time frame now being mid-century, it still makes them antiques.  That part of history has been lost.  But I can tell you what I do know.

At the turn of the century my grandfather and his father came to America and worked in a (pressed) glass factory in Tarentum, Pennsylvania.  I have a carafe made in that factory which I was able to find in miniature. Pictured next to the carafe are two glasses handpainted by my babcia.

With a wife and 3 children, my grandfather moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1909 where they remained. After a work related injury in the steel mill put my grandfather on the sidelines, my grandmother found a job as a seamtress.  

The sewing related miniatures are a reminder of her amazing talent. My mother said she and her sisters could ask her to duplicate any dress they found in a window display. (Pictured are my mother and Babcia --a scrappy page I made in 2010.)

She made my sister and me wool robes and pleated skirts. Here's an old photo of us wearing those skirts!

Babcia and her four daughters also were excellent in the art of crocheting. I have many of those doilies, tablecloths, and bedspreads. I put a couple of snippets of the crocheting on the shelves.

My aunt Phyllis, as an adult, continued to live with my Babcia.  As a young child, I was struck by her grace and poise and what she found important to "a working girl".  I remember her collection of perfume bottles, the telephone table, and (most vividly) the attic full of racks of clothing with matching hats and shoes.  The little magnifying glass in the attic is actually hers.

Somehow I ended up with one of her vintage style umbrellas.  I also am the depository for Babcia's fine china, represented by the coffee cup.

I wanted to include a telephone because both my mother and my aunt worked for the phone company. Here is another old scrappy page.

Babcia had a water pitcher and bowl.  My aunt loved pink and filled it with her style of flowers which remain in the pitcher to this day.

Babcia was a typical European cook who didn't measure anything.  No one could duplicate her delicious babka (Polish Easter cake).  However, the Boston Cooking School Cook Book aka the Fanny Farmer Cookbook somehow turned up as the "go to" family cookbook.  Pictured is my mother's well-worn edition.  I also got a copy when I married in 1970-- it is getting close to being an antique as well.  Everyone had a wood rolling pin.  I still can picture Babcia making us perogi in her kitchen--just a quick lunchtime meal.  It takes me two days to make a batch!

Finally, I wanted to include books for these avid readers and a newspaper since my uncle-in-law, who lived in the flat above, was a newspaper publisher and cartoonist. The photo in the frame is of Uncle Joe.  The bit of doily is one actually crocheted by the family.

Here is a picture of me (and my siblings) in front of Babcia's house.  Thanks for stopping by and reliving with me my memories of Babcia's house.


Christine said...

Thank you for the extension posting to unruly arts This is a fascinating post. Your artwork is a unique representation of your childhood and really beautiful. Congratulations

Anita Houston said...

LOVE all this! LOVE the tray filled with goodies! Your pictures are wonderful!

SusanK said...

What a fabulous way to remember days gone by! Love how accurately you've been able to recapture so many moments and memories!

Michele said...

not only is your little house a masterpiece of beauty and commemoration, your story is so rich with memory and love. there are so many lovely elements to this. I'm overwhelmed, inspired, touched. xo

Joann Alexander said...

Thank you so much for sharing your creation! You have given me ideas on how to remember my mother! Joann

Becca Cruger said...

This is one of the most fascinating blog posts I've read in so long! Thank you for sharing your family's history with all of us and explaining each vignette as you went along. SO cool!

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