Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Celebrating old friends : : Anne McAllister

When I was four I met a girl who lived in the next street.  I could see her house from my bedroom window because there was plenty of empty space between her house and mine.  We became friends and used to run across the lots to play together regularly.  We walked to grade school together, rode bikes to school when we got to junior high, and rode the bus together when we reached high school.

She wasn't my only friend, but she was a good friend.  And then she moved away.

At the end of our freshman year, she and her family moved to Washington state.  We wrote letters sporadically.  We kept in touch when we got out of high school.  We sent Christmas cards.

I saw her once the year after I got married. I saw her again in 2009 when we went to Washington ourselves to meet our sixth grandson.

And last year when we planned to meet after she had a meeting in Chicago, the weather exploded in our faces.  Howling winds, piles of snow.  Piles of snow?  In early December? Ye gods.  Well, yes, that was last winter.

But we are nothing if not determined.  So this year, she tried again. The weather cooperated.  And on Friday evening she turned up on my doorstep!

What a treat.  We spent a lot of time catching up, reminiscing, recalling bits and pieces of our childhood that one -- or the other -- of us hadn't thought of in years. She reminded me of how we used to walk in the puddles in the alleys during rainstorms.  I had forgotten about alleys all together.

We tried to piece together our shared past and put it into the context of what our families were doing at the time, of what our parents were thinking.  Always a challenge, trying to discover what your parents were thinking!

One thing I hadn't forgotten was how creative she was.  What I didn't remember -- and still don't -- is if it had anything to do with fabric.  But it certainly does now!

Her name is Melody Crust and she is a nationally celebrated fabric artist.  She designs, she quilts, she gilds, she embellishes.  As she says, she "loves all things shiny."  And she translates that love into spectacular works of art.

She also teaches other people how to do it.  She has written books about it, has a slew of Power Point presentations she has created to help others understand how to begin to do things that boggle my mind.  She's an inspiration not only to them, but also to me.

Several years ago, I wrote a book called Antonides Forbidden Wife.  Ally, the heroine, was a fabric artist.  She owed a lot of her career to Melody.  I have another heroine waiting in the wings who also works with fabric and with wool.  She began as a  weaver, but she's become a storyteller with her art. She will undoubtedly owe a lot to Melody, too.

People often ask, "Where do you get your ideas?"

Sometimes when you're four years old, they're right outside your window.  You just have to hang onto them until the time is right.

images from, copyright: Melody Crust, used with permission.


Christina Hollis said...

Those are beautiful colour combinations. They're too beautiful simply to put on a bed—I'd have them as wall hangings.

dstoutholcomb said...

Beautiful fabric art!

Anne McAllister said...

Christina, I agree. I'd want it on my wall, too. If it were on my bed, I'd never get any sleep. I'd just stand there admiring the colors and the design and all the work that went into creating it!

Anne McAllister said...

Dstoutholcomb, I agree. I saw a picture of her fabric closet. With all the colors on the shelves, even it is gorgeous!

Kate Walker said...

I remember seeing those beautiful works of art when you were writing about Ally in Antonides Forbidden Wife - they are just gorgeous. Melody is such a talented artist. I envy you your friendship time together too and catching up together. Friends are precious - whatever their talents. I'm so glad you had the time with Melody.