I almost didn't post this project because it was too personal and I didn't want to talk about it. But I was asked about it recently by craftster member Floresita, who helped me with it. I ended up posting it to Flickr, and I thought if I'm posting it there (for flickr strangers) then I definitely need to share it with craftster (the community I think of as home
My grandmother died last year at the age of 95. For the last few years of her life, her health (both mental and physical) was very poor, and she was almost always uncomfortable and in pain. Everyone in the family knew that it was time for her to go (and that she was ready and wanting to go), and we tried to not be too sad when it happened.
A few weeks after she passed away, my mother and I were talking and we realized that we were having a similar odd sense of grief. We were almost relieved that Honey (as we called her) was not in pain anymore, but we felt grief for the person we had lost many years before; before she became increasingly senile. We had never really properly grieved for the amazing person that my grandmother was, and after she died, the memories that came flooding back were much older ones rather than the events of the last 10 years.
We both wanted to do something to celebrate her life, and my mom suggested that we make a shrine for her for Dia de Los Muertos.
I ended up making this shrine as a gift to my Mom. I wanted to celebrate the woman who raised two children and seven grandchildren, the woman who loved to laugh, loved to make things, and who I never knew to ever be sad or out of spirits for even a single day until her mind and body started slipping away.
This is the outside. I made it in a wooden purse because my Grandmother was a girly girl, and I painted it aqua, her favorite color.
Everything in the shrine is significant of something. I put a pot of flowers on the outside because Honey loved her garden, and worked in it every day for at least 60 years. When I was a little girl, she would let me plant pots of flowers. She would take care of them during the week, and when I visited her each weekend she would show me how they had grown.
She also used to feed birds in her backyard each day. Every single day, she would turn an entire loaf of bread into crumbs and spread it along with about a gallon of birdseed in the backyard. She would go back in the house and watch with delight as dozens and dozens of birds would settle down to eat.
This is the inside of the shrine. It is constructed so that it can be put away, folded down to just the size of a cigar box. Or it can be hung by its handle on a wall with its contents displayed.
This is the top of the inside of the shrine. We all called my Grandmother Honey, but her name was Margarita (as is my Mother's and my Great-Grandmother's). Margarita means "Daisy" in Spanish. The three little tiles have a rhyme, "Mamacita Margarita Abuelita." The small script is Spanish translation of some of my memories of Honey. It was translated for me by craftster member Floresita. Oh, and the fabric in the background of the tiles is a print of daisies (for Margarita).
This is a detail of the top half of the shrine. More pots of flowers, with a dia de los muertos figure of a woman to represent Honey. The miniature pictures are childhood pictures of my Uncle and Mother, my Grandparents' wedding photo, and a picture of my Grandmother as a young woman.
When my mother was a little girl, Honey always sewed matching Mother-Daughter dresses. She loved making my Mom look like her mini-me and would say that if my Mom got lost, she could just ask people if they had seen a little girl dressed like her.
Of course, my Mom absolutely hated this. She would tell me the story when I was a little girl if I complained about something she made me wear, to imply that I didn't have it so bad. She always told me of the legendary ugliest Mother-Daughter dresses, which were made out of fabric printed with green donkeys. One day when I was at Honey's house she was going through fabric scraps and miraculousy pulled out a yard of the infamous donkey fabric. I begged her for it and still have it to this day. A single yard of hilarious and hideous 40 year old green donkeys. I used a bit of it to line the inside of the shrine, and you cans see it in the background.
This is a detail of the bottom half of the shrine. My Grandmother was a housewife, and extremely proud of her house. It was a Craftsman in the working class neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles, and she lived there for more than 50 years. When I was a little girl, it was well kept up with a pretty lawn and front garden (albeit painted an outlandish combo of white with bright turquoise).
A few weeks before she died, my grandmother was in the hospital and I went to go visit her. She was not 'with it' enough to recognize me, and thought that I was a nice stranger coming to visit her. She told me all about her life and her hobbies and her children and her house and her garden. She talked more that day than I had heard her talk in over a year, although you could tell from her words that she thought we were about 15 years in the past. I treasured the visit because although she did not know who I was, it was the most lucid I had seen her in a long time. After she died, I made sure to take a picture of her house since it would soon be sold and I would never seen it again.
Below the house is a family photo, circa about 1952. On either side of it are pictures of some of Honey's favorite entertainers (Judy Garland, Shirley Temple, and Julio Iglesias! If I had only had room for Lucille Ball and the cast of Heart to Heart if would have been complete
The bracelet pinned next to the house belonged to Honey.
I embroidered this banner on felt. In English is says "You will always live in our hearts"
I hope you guys enjoy this. It's definitely the most personal thing I've ever made. My grandmother was a big crafty influence on me, and would have loved (and been scandalized by