April 12, 2013

My Great-Aunt Honey was like an extra grandmother to me, and some of the best games and funniest jokes I know I learned from her. She was pregnant with her ninth child when her husband passed away, and I could never understand how she so successfully raised all nine on one war pension until I got to spend time with her regularly while I lived in Philadelphia. In all her habits and traditions, I observed again and again, she was the very definition of thrift.

Her "burglar alarm" was a tangled mass of empty soup cans with holes punched in the bottom, tied together with twine and draped across the basement steps; when one of her kids tied it to a bumper for a newlywed send-off, she just chuckled and picked through the recycling bin and happily made another. To organize her crafting supplies, she'd cut cereal boxes up to resemble magazine files, and cover only the front panel with a floral wallpaper sample. A glance into her closet would lead you to believe she'd invested in dozens of pretty little designer containers, but a tug on the "handle" of one (constructed from shoelaces, of course) would reveal a giant ad for Life or Special K.

Aunt Honey loved to garden, and she had all kinds of little tips and tricks for neatening one's yard, hiding the mess of your trimmings, etc. One of the things she'd always show me were her Sempervivum "Hens and Chicks" succulents. She loved the way they'd multiply and spread, making little babies all the way down her sidewalk. Always the first to notice a bargain and the last to make an unncecessary purchase, she obviously loved Sempervivum because you could make only a few initial purchases and let them fill your required space, whatever the size. Home Economics a la Honey.

For our Spring collection, I made a satisfyingly simple succulent drawing in celebration of my beloved aunt and her quirky little plants. We've printed it on this scarf and this tunic, but I just couldn't stop. I ended up picking up a couple of Sempervivum varieties at my local nursery, and I'm sure I will think of Aunt Honey as I traipse the couple dozen yards between our workshop and darkroom and observe the Hens & Chicks populating their way down my sidewalk. A fabulous buy.

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