Monday, February 18, 2013

Emily VanSant

When I asked my sweet friend Emily if she would be willing to write the first guest artist feature for my blog, she agreed without hesitation and then hemmed and hawed for almost 3 months before telling me that she was trying to work up something perfect. I proceeded to give her an arbitrary deadline for turning in her feature post, reminding her that I didn't want perfection- I wanted whatever she wanted to throw out to the world. This tough love works in my favor because whatever Emily touches seems to be beautiful. Emily is a talented photographer, graphic designer and fashionista who should have been born in the 1950's. Her style is whimsical and classic, and she loves a good record on the turntable. She is loyal and hardworking and leaves her world open to inspiration from anywhere. Her photographs capture more then the pure image- somehow she finds the question you didn't know you were asking until you saw her picture. Her photography exhibit is finally open to the public at
Without further ado, meet my friend Emily VanSant.
Emily and Jake, circa Mad Men 1960's.
My Dad has to be the champion of all things homemade. Sometimes they take him a few more years than planned to complete, but for as long as I can remember, my Dad has relished the giving and receiving of gifts made by hand - especially those including woodworking. He has made everything from wooden calendar holders for various ladies in my family, to a beautifully dark-stained bureau for my Mom that sits proudly in our living room. He picked out the speckled glass in the windows, the best wood he could find - he did everything. Every time I look at it I am so proud of him.
Nearly every corner of our home is hand made by my Dad. He'll deny this but he puts Bob Vila to shame. No questions asked. This Old House, meet the VanSant House. In fact many homes from Iowa to West Virginia to Mississippi have the Calvin VanSant builder's stamp on them as he has used his gift on countless missions trips to help rebuilt homes and lives in broken communities and in the process reaffirm to his family the importance of giving.
 This Christmas he made two wooden 6-pack holders for my brother-in-law, Adam, who has become quite the home brewer and has been carrying his beer creations around in old cardboard carriers recycled from store-bought 6-packs but now has beautiful carriers with his own name beautifully printed on the sides. I love that my Dad made a gift that is not only functional and well-crafted but also created a platform for Adam to showcase his passion to others.
He encouraged us as children to make things by hand--and not just gifts. The idea of a store-bought Halloween costume was a sort of blasphemy in my family. To this day I've still never purchased a costume and you can mark my words that my own children will continue this tradition to the best of my creative ability. My Dad has spray painted nylons stretched on wire for my sisters and I's butterfly wings, helped my brother turn a large box into spongebob, slice a foam baseball in half, paint eye slits and fix the halves to my brother's head when he was Kermit the frog and expertly used face paint to transform our little kid faces into anything we could dream up. One of my favorite pictures of my parents is from Halloween of 1991, less than a month before my brother was born. My Dad was tall and convincing Cat in the Hat and my mom was a beautifully plump Pillsbury Dough Boy (girl). It's perfect. And when Mother's Day came, we made things for my mom like a hand-decorated kitchen apron and, my proudest, a napkin holder with my own small hands cut from wood holding in the napkins.
 And with the mention of my mother, I have to say that she is just as involved in my love for the 'handmade,' though her laboratory is not in the woodshop but the kitchen. My mom has made and jarred her own strawberry jelly (which is addictive if you ask the right people), tomato sauce, salsa, pepper jelly, apple butter and apple sauce. She freezes fresh corn to eat in the bitter winter and bakes incredible from-scratch desserts that I blame for my incessant sweet-tooth to this day. Her infamous 'throw together' meals are made from whatever she finds in our cupboards and are dependably delicious and homey.

My mom was never a pioneer woman type and never gloated about making things from scratch. That was just how it was done. You bought ingredients at the store or dug them from the garden and you made food at home (though I can fondly remember Entenmann's donuts on Sunday mornings as a child and do not hold this against anyone - I love the chocolate covered ones!). She recently even ventured into wreath making and fashioned me an amazing succulent-covered wreath that proudly hangs on my apartment door as you read these words.
So parents, thank you for grinding the coffee beans fresh before brewing them. Thank you for teaching me how to hang drywall at a young age. Thank you for the constant stream of strawberry jelly and for the halloween costumes that were always better than the neighbors. Thank you for the lesson that things in this life are best experienced when we make them with our hands and appreciate them slowly. I owe my love of cooking, art and design to your love of these things.
My Brother and I enjoying the Art of the Homemade


1 comment:

  1. ...awesome!...

    ...very nice read...

    ...very nice...