A Memory Delivered By FedEx
WHEN I GOT BACK HOME this morning after coffee Dawn said that there were two boxes waiting to be opened. FedEx had delivered them – sent by my niece Susan who lives in North Carolina. The boxes were filled with memories.
The larger box held a painting of a seascape – with waves crashing on a rocky shoreline. My mother had painted that in the 1960s I believe.
The second, smaller, box contained five ceramic tiles. Each of them painted with delicate flowers. There was also a small serving dish – the kind of thing you would use to hold mints perhaps. The bubble wrap and shipping cheetos also held a hand painted glass lampshade and base.
All of these things were painted by my mother.
I took a few quick pictures of some of the items with my phone. They are up above and near the bottom of this post.
I had asked Susan if she knew if there was anything done by my mother still around. She said that she would check the attic and send me whatever I wanted.
Today was the first time I had seen any of my mother’s work in almost forty years.
My Mother, Blanche Rodger Kraft, was an artist.
She had studied as a child at the Cleveland Museum of Art and had been offered the chance to go to Paris to continue her training. But this was the 1920s and her parents, new immigrants from Lithuania, wouldn’t let her go.
As far back as I can recall she was taking lessons in one artistic style or another: Oils, acrylics, watercolors, chinaware, photography…
She did all of this for the joy of the work, but also to put food on the table. My father was a roofer and that could be very seasonal work.
We lived in a small steel town in Western Pennsylvania. When the executive bigwigs of the mills learned of her work she was often commissioned to design, paint and fire unique services of dinnerware for tables we would never see.
We had a kiln in the basement where she would fire her china and ceramics. My job as a kid was to run up and down the basement steps checking the temperatures and the progress of each kiln load.
Susan told us today that she still has three sets of dinnerware. Those are for her and her two spectacular daughters. It shouldn’t be otherwise. Mom would be pleased to know that her work survives and is used and appreciated.
My mother was a very prolific artist and I packed and shipped her work all over the map. The last shipment was after her health had begun to fail and I filled seven large barrels with finished and unfinished items for delivery.
If you are ever in an antique store or at an estate sale and you see a delicately painted ceramic tile or dinner plate I urge you to take a closer look. If you see the name “B. Kraft” hidden in a corner or on the back, know that you are holding another piece of her Art and of my memory.