Once upon a time there was a little girl who loved her grandma very, very much. Yep, the little girl is me. My grandma (my mom’s mom) used to live in a small Romanian village, a few dozen kilometers from the seaside city of Constanta, which is my hometown.
My parents used to take me to her place when I was just a few years old, because my father used to work in Bucharest and my mother had to spend a year in Bucharest too, to get her specialty degree. It was in the 80s, the last and hardest years of the Communist regime in Romania. Food was also hard to find in stores so me and my brother had to stay in the countryside at my grandma’s so we could actually have something to eat, as her and my grandpa were, of course, growing all the food.
I spent that year (I was 3, my brother was 1) entirely in the countryside, and that is also the place where I spent a lot of summer holidays afterwards. My grandma’s place was a fascinating universe in itself. The 100 year old house surrounded by a vast yard with gardens, trees, storages, barns, animals and birds, hay-stacks, was our playground and exploration field.
But one thing that had its particular fascination to me was her sewing machine. It was an old treadle machine, I don’t remember the brand, but looked something like this (no, mine was not a Singer):
My grandma used to make bed sheets, table cloths and such, but I don’t remember having seen her making clothes or… anything at all. Just that the machine was there and I was endlessly curious to see what it does but no-one ever showed me. I remember playing with the treadle just to hear the sound it made and to see how fast I can push it to move… but that’s it. No-one taught me how to actually use it and I don’t even know if it was functional at all when I noticed it.
At the same time I remember I was passionate about making dolls’ clothes. So passionate that I used to steal scraps of fabrics from my mom’s fabrics, by literally cutting pieces of them, no matter how precious they were and how much she cared about them. I was merciless. I NEEDED those fabrics for my “creations” and nothing else mattered.
Fast forward to the beginning of 2010. In the 18 years that had passed, I gave up making dolls’ clothes and embraced a more pragmatic course of life, with lots of maths, some writing, and some economics and finally marketing and advertising. And some PhD in communication stuff. So no, no art school, no fancy schmancy fashion design university, no nothing.