Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Home Economics 2010

My Mom, Bonnie Leman, used to teach Home Economics and English. She loved her years at Park College and enjoyed the opportunity that Domestic Science studies gave women in the 1940s. Eleanor Roosevelt was a big supporter of Home Economics in the 1930s and encouraged international conferences on the relationship between family, community, and the role of education in women's lives. Seeking an education in the field of Home Economics made it possible for many women to enter college, and later, was the critical pathway into many fields of business success. My Mom went on to found and run Leman Publications as editor of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine. She was an extraordinary success as an entrepreneur, author, and community builder. I am very proud of my mom.

In 2010, Home Economics as a field of study, is absent from most public schools. Our young people may have an interest in the basic life skills like cooking, sewing, child care, nutrition, and personal finance. Unfortunately, most school districts cannot afford to have a qualified Home Ec teacher on the job. If you are a parent in the age range of 20-40, you may not have enjoyed a well-rounded Home Ec experience yourself, and beyond the basics learned at home, may not be able to teach your teenager how to use a sewing machine, repair garments, or build a special diet for an athletic lifestyle. I know this is true because almost every day moms enter one of my classrooms and tell me that they never learned these skills, and now that they have kids of their own, it is no longer acceptable. They need a teacher to teach their kids how to hem a pair of pants.

I recently polled 39 fellow artists on the popular website, asking them what should be taught today in Home Economics. Here is some of what I heard, paraphrased for space--

"I think kids need cooking skills. They need to learn how to take care of themselves."
"You need to teach the attitude that it is awesome to be able to make things with your own two hands."
"Not just cooking but appreciation of food and sources of food."
"Financial stuff. How to avoid credit card debt, balancing a checking account, etc."
"Basic repair related sewing and clothing to sew on a button, fix a hem, iron a shirt."
"It would have been nice to take a trip to the grocery store and make a 'budget' meal with ingredients you picked out."
"How to do your own laundry. Lots of people I graduated high school with didn't even know how to do their own laundry!"

There are many debates going on about this Home Ec topic and the feelings and opinions raised by the conversation. Should parents be teaching this stuff in the home? If parents understand nutrition, why are so many kids today overweight? Should women and men take equal responsibility for family resource activities? Does Home Ec for girls differ from Home Ec for boys? Is this really just about consumer habits? Are our public school systems supposed to be teaching anything outside of academic subjects?

I'd like to know what you think about all of this. Would you be willing to share your comments with me? As a woman who was lucky enough to be raised by a talented home economics teacher, I may have a rose-colored view about how the basic family resource skills are passed down, taught, and encouraged in the larger community. I'd love hearing what you think!

Here's to you, Mom. You are my hero.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spring is in the air--somewhere behind the snow that is falling!

The snow has been falling all weekend here in Westminster Colorado. It is a gentle snow, like powdered sugar that adds up over time. The bunny tracks in my backyard appear, are filled in by the snow, reappear in another part of the yard, and then--oh my goodness--it looks like the bunnies have been dancing with raccoon tracks! I've yet to see any of the creatures, but I am enjoying watching their footprints.

Spring is in the air though; I am longing for it anyway. I've got a hyacinth bulb inside of the house, and it is about 2 feet tall now, getting ready to blossom; so am I. I'm excited to hear baby birds in their nests, see daffodils pop out of my flower bed, and listen to gentle rain on my porch roof while I sit outside for once.

A lovely gal at included my Bird's-Eye View Pillow in her Spring is in the Air blog.
If you are ready for spring, you may want to check out Lora's collection of fresh items. I'm showing my bird pillow here for you too!

Here's hoping that where ever you are, be it warm or snowy, busy or serene, that you have a chance to nestle and soar today!


Friday, February 12, 2010

Just call me Granny

It has been over 20 years since I cuddled a newborn baby of my own. So the past couple of months of my new life as a grandmother has been delicious! The sounds and smells of a new baby are intoxicating. And seeing these new parents grow into their role of caretaker just fills my heart.

There has been a lot of activity in my folk art studio, too. I'm seriously loving the creation of my tree pillow series. The one I'm including in this post has seed beads that I hand-sewed with tlc. I love this kind of stuff! I am planning to post several new ones in my shop in the next few weeks. The artistic process is so much fun, I am actually postponing the finishing work. I actually feel connected to the art!

I've been looking at conversations on the internet about how people value their artwork. Some folks seem to think they should charge a price that is very, very small with the hopes of selling more of their art. Other folks seem almost mad about how charging a low price does not take into account the steps in the process outside of the creation of the thing; like trips to the post office, shipping supplies, etc. As a contempory folk artist who works with wool and linen, I can compare my pillows, for instance, with some pillows that are sewn in Peru. Some imports seem to be highly priced, while others, sell for next to nothing.

How do you all feel about this? If you create art, do you compare yourself to products that are mass-produced? Do you set up your pricing practices to include what some people call "fully-loaded costs"? As artists, do we take ourselves seriously, or do we feel we have to sell at low prices because creating or making is something we do "for fun"?

I'd love to hear what you think...Georgianne
Everyone deserves the chance to nestle and soar today