Blog It Forward with the Mushroom Lady!

Today is finally the day I get to participate in Victoria's "Blog It Forward". This idea came about with a little chat over on twitter that turned into one BIG chat involving 300 people and what inspires us. So today I am going to step outside of my usual inspiring topics which we all know include - magazines, beaches, gorgeous (affordable) decor finds and long lazy Sunday dinners. With this post I open up a bit more personally and bring you into my family with what truly keeps me going each day on this road of creative business owner. Please let me introduce you to my Great Aunt Mary.



My Auntie Mary was the first truly creative person in my life. Why is she so inspiring? In a time when it was not customary to be a woman making her own money, she opened her first art studio in downtown Boston in the 1940's . She displayed her paintings and ceramics and made a living off of selling her art. She owned her own home living alone with just her dog, supporting herself with no help from anyone else. As a little girl I remember running through the maze that was her backyard garden. It was filled with ceramic urns and wild flowers I didn't know the names of but knew they were much larger than me and along with the mint tree, smelled unbelievable! When she opened her home studio (a converted detached garage) to the public she would also have glorious garden parties!!


<span class=
These are 2 of Auntie Mary's paintings, one of my Gram and one of my Great Grandmother



mushrooms22
Just a few of her ceramic mushrooms. Its always great fun when I come across one at a flea market, most people don't know their worth!



Mushroom2
Her attention to detail from the grass the mushroom grew on to the underside of a mushroom cap always impressed me and also taught me, the talent is in the small details!


It is truly remarkable to me that she had such a passion for her art and believed in herself to such a degree that she knew how to survive on just her creativeness. AMAZING! She found a niche in sculpting ceramic mushrooms which she sold at market and in her backyard studio. Long before Etsy, she was a trailblazer in indie art and self promotion. In her later years she was known as the "Mushroom Lady" as she would scour the fields by her house and than spend hours by the hot kiln in her basements studying each piece. With precise detail she would sculpt each mushroom to a true representation!



A picture of the Maravigna sisters. This is a basket of crepe paper flowers my Aunt Mary made, imagine the time it must have taken?! The little girl is my 91 year old Gram, so cute!


I was so incredibly lucky to have her as a role model. Whenever I feel like I could just give up on owning my business I think back to Auntie Mary and all that she endured in a time when it was not customary to be an unwed, creative woman supporting herself. She lived an AMAZING fulfilled life until the age of 107. Up until this time she lived in her house alone, supporting and taking care of herself. The secret she would say to living such a long Sicilian life? Red Wine, Garlic, Fresh Foods and of course living a creative passionate life.




Thanks for letting me share with you someone who inspired me from a young age and when you ever think living a creative life is hard and you want to give up think about all the advantages we have today! I think she would have just LOVED Etsy and our blogging community, I can see her inviting us all over for a "bloggers garden party" at her house!

Please pop back over to visit Victoria at Sfgirlbybay and the list of bloggers who have participated.

*additional note -My family has been so overwhelmed by the sweet comments left here. If you have any of my Aunt's mushrooms we would love if you would take a photo and email them to me. As much as you enjoy them we enjoy seeing them displayed in your own home! julieann@jaceinteriors.com! thanks

22 comments:

lani said...

thank you so much for sharing your gran with us today. so beautiful and inspiring. i wish i could've known her. you gave me something i really needed today. perspective. anytime i feel like something is hard, i think of the fearless, incredible women that came before, and achieved so much under much less supportive conditions. thank you for reminding me of this today.
<3

Liz Noonan said...

what an amazing person your aunt was! i love that you represent her, there is a bit of her in you! thank you for sharing her story with us!

Art Wall Katie said...

Oh my goodness. What a special post. I seriously can not believe those mushrooms she made. She was a serious trail blazer, and 107 is out of this world.

Sarah Klassen said...

Umm...I have tears in my eyes! What a beautiful story of appreciation and love. What a heartwarming post.

xo

Mary Jo from TrustYourStyle said...

I just love this story about your Auntie Mary. It really is amazing that she lived such a long and creative life and was such a trail blazer! Thank you so much for sharing this story, I know I'll be thinking of it often :)

SogniSorrisi said...

What a wonderful post. Great story.

Laura Mattal said...

Thank you for a lovely and inspiring post! You are very lucky to have had such a talented and brave role model, and it makes me happy just thinking about what a full and wonderful life she must have led. This is the last blog post I'm reading today because I don't think it will get any better than this!

The Zhush said...

Are you kidding me? Auntie Mary and her mushrooms rocks! (so very Alice in Wonderland chic, no?) Not to mention those crepe paper flowers in that amazing photo! Such a touching and completely inspiring post.

TheCluelessCrafter said...

What a dignified woman! It's a story like this that make me wonder what more I could do to live an inspired life, one to share with curious and passionate youth. I meet so many courageous women in New York on the buses and in line at the museum. Whenever I leave their presence, I feel so much richer, more confident, more alive. You both were honored to have each other.

Gradon Tripp said...

What a great story, Julieann! Aunt Mary is a great inspiration for any creative person. Thanks for sharing!

Arcadia said...

wow, what awesome women you have in your family, you should write a book! great post - i too am SOOO inspired by trailblazing women, thanks for sharing!

Editor said...

beautiful post


D e g a i n e

http://www.fashiondegaine.com

Creategirl said...

Oh my goodness, you have all just warmed my heart! Thank YOU so much for all the sweet comments. I know my Auntie Mary was an inspiration to me but to know her story has also inspired some of you, makes me want to reach out and hug each one of you. Thanks so much in sharing in my story and my family! xo jul

beckerkpye said...

Isn't it amazing who we can touch if we just reach a little farther. I have 7 of your great grandmother's mushrooms and they are some of the dearest things to my heart. My uncle's partner (a wonderful gardener, now deceased) taught for a brief time at Harvard years ago. He purchased several dozen of Maria's mushrooms. The ones I have came from him and my uncle. She has been a creative inspiration for me, too. I've looked and looked to find more of these sculptures and information on Maria, to no avail, -- even to find info online at Harvard. Tonight, on a whim, I tried again. Thank you for adding to my knowledge and pleasure. You are truly blessed to have had such a talented treasure for an aunt.

Best wishes,

Katy

Creategirl said...

Oh my goodness Katy thank you SO much for leaving a comment! I am so overwhelmed with pride and adore you cherish your mushrooms as much as we do as a family. Would you be willing to send me a picture of the ones you have? I tried to click on your profile but it was not available. Also I wonder if my Grandmother knows your Uncle? Did he live in Winchester by chance? This is my email julieann@jaceinteriors.com

Thanks so much for just making my day so much brighter and yes the internet is just fantastic!

Wee Festivity... said...

I do not know how I missed this post for Blog It Forward but I am more than happy to read it this morning regardless. What a MOVING and amazing story Julie! I am all the more touched by it being half-Sicilian. My grandma was a strong, creative woman too, I am only so sad I didn't record more of her wisdom from cooking and sewing to crochet. What a gift you received growing up with your Zia!!! I love this story soo very, very, very much.

Anonymous said...

What a great article! I met your aunt at some of the Boston flower shows around 30 years ago where she would sell her mushroom sculptures each year and I am fortunate enough to own a few. I always loved them and tried to purchase one each year. But I never knew much about this great lady and it's wonderful to read your blog about her. You were very blessed to have her in your life!

trish said...

nothing like starting the day with tear in my eyes and and a good cup of coffee. It is amazing what desires get launched when appreciating inspiration. This post touched my soul. You are a lucky girl to have an Auntie like her. I dreamed of one like this...happy weekend and thank you for making my day start of in a great way:) ox t

L.Duncan@Home23DuncanBoys said...

What an inspiring story! I really didn't have many women in my life (or men for that matter) to look up to. Its stories like these and relationships that I built with people that I've found through blogging that have inspired me and lit a fire inside me that I didn't know was there.

Your aunt sounds incredible. How blessed were you to have been able to have such a great woman in your life. Thank you for this post. It is my inspirational vitamin that I needed today!

Take care!

Anonymous said...

My dad (who passed away in 2009) LOVED mushrooms. Growing up, I spent many Sundays mushrooming with him in the woods of New Hampshire (we had some interesting Sunday suppers!). When my parents discovered the Maravigna mushrooms, they scrimped and saved and collected them. Now my sister and I are proud owners of these beautiful creations. I think we have a dozen between us.

Thank you for sharing!
susan

Creategirl said...

Susan I hope this message will find it's way to you. Thank you SO much for leaving a comment. Notes like this mean a great deal to me and my entire family. Just to know others are treasuring Auntie Mary's mushrooms like we do mean the world to us. If you have any pictures I would love to see them. Please email me julieann @jaceinteriors.com
thanks

sueps said...

My aunt, who lived in Cambridge, bequeathed a large collection or her precious Maravigna mushrooms to my daughters. There are 27 of them. I remember how Aunt Sally cherished her collection. It is wonderful to read about her through your eyes, as all I had known was what the literature and my aunt's knowledge shared.