Mail Call

Laverne And Shiny: A Match Made In Heaven

I’m sure that you’ve already figured out by now, that I’ve received another package from my mom (I just love her.) and Bill (my stepdad).

Usually when mom (I just love her.) tells me she has a package ready to send, I respond by saying . . .“Thanks Mom. No rush. Take your time.” I say this because I know the package won’t arrive immediately, but when it does, it’ll be filled with wonderful things and definitely be worth the wait. This time though, our package conversation went slightly different.

Early Wednesday morning I get a call from mom (We usually talk in the afternoon, and did I happen to mention that I just love her?). She enthusiastically tells me that she and Bill have just finished packing the box and will be mailing it this afternoon. The package should arrive at my house on Friday. Oh, and instead of just one package, there will be two. Bye . . . Love you . . . Mom.

I ended our conversation with my usual . . . “Thanks Mom. No rush. Take your time. Love you too. Bye.” I’m thinking . . . there is no way the package will be here on Friday. She and Bill will find something—at the last minute—to tuck into the box and it won’t show up until next week. (They are so cute and I am so lucky.)

Much to my surprise and delight, the boxes arrive Friday afternoon. That’s right, Friday afternoon, just like she said. What’s up with that? We have a routine and here she goes changing it on me.

I brought the packages into my studio, photographed them and gave mom (I just love her.) a call as I began to open them. As I leisurely sorted through the boxes, mom (I just love her.) and I would laugh and talk. She would tell me a little about whatever item I had found and why she has included it.

These conversations are not monumental, but they are the best part of getting a package from mom (I just love her.). Each time I discover something new, it’s like Christmas morning. Each item a gift. Each object a jewel. A box like this is filled with treasure, not the shiny kind, but the emotional kind, because each item gives us a chance to connect and to share. I know these moments are special and I cherish each and every one.

After our talk, I realized that I couldn’t think of any sound in the world that I love to hear more than her laughter. It’s the greatest sound on earth. 

Since I had a blast sharing these treasures with mom (I just love her.), I thought it would be great fun to share them with you too.

For those of you tuning in for the first time, these treasures are from Bill’s mother’s stash.

Fabric from Laverne's Stash

A sampling of the fabric from Laverne's stash.

From the assortment above, I think Laverne (Bill’s mom) had quiet an affection for solid-color fabric. I’m much more of a tone-on-tone kinda guy.

Even though we have different opinions on printed fabric, we definitely agree on color. The more, the better.

Tulle and organza from Laverne's stash

Tulle and flocked organza, Laverne is my kind of quilter.

Laverne and I are a lot alike when it comes to fancy fabric. We both believe that tulle and organza are essentials for every stash.

Assortment of beads_8

Laverne loves pearls and didn't limit herself to white. You go girl!

I’m usually not a big fan of pearls, but after sorting all of this stuff, I”m starting to reconsider that stance. The colors are luscious—but the finish is over the top.

Assortment of beads_15

Laverne's like me. She loves shiny objects.

I love how the light bounces off the beads. The finish is so subtle and luminous. It doesn’t shout at you, but you can’t miss it.

Assortment of beads_6

Yummy. I'm sure I'll find something special to do with these.

Besides an affection for pearls, Laverne fancied gold and silver.

Assortment of beads_10

I love how beautiful the pearls look mounded into a pile.

I’m sorry, I can’t think of a thing to say, other than, WOW! These aren’t real pearls, but they are stunning to look at.

Random beads and shells_7

I love how these embellishments seems to glow from within.

The combination of textures, shapes and finishes stirs my imagination. I love the shells!

Quilting Quotes Book

The package also included a little book on quilting.

Isn’t the cover of this book beautiful? My mom loves quotes and I love quilting, so this is a perfect gift—and a pleasant surprise. It’s not even my birthday.

Quilting Quote Book With Pins

When I said little quilt book, I meant it.

Isn’t this the cutest thing you ever saw? I love it!!!! My mom is so good to me. (I just love her.)

Levi Button Box_5

The buttons in this box came from the Levi factory in Morrilton, AR.

No care package would be complete without buttons. These buttons are from the Levi factory that my mother worked in over 30 years ago. The factory closed in the early 80s.

Levi Button Box_1 (close-up)

These buttons are over 30 years old, but don't look a day over 16.

I love these simple buttons. They are the wallflowers of the apparel industry. Most people think they are boring and uninteresting. I  however, think they are full of potential and loaded with charm. I think I have a crush on them.

Levi Button Box_2

I love these buttons. They are so honest and humble—and oh, so photogenic.

What can I say? They’re buttons. I have to shoot them. I wouldn’t be me if I only posted one shot.

Thanks for indulging me. I’ve had a blast going through the shots again and reflecting on my time with mom (I just love her.). I hope you enjoyed the show. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.



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26 Responses to “Mail Call”

  1. Jim Gatling Says:

    How neat was this! Great post. It made me smile and it was just like getting the best Christmas present ever. You are so lucky to have such a wonderful and thoughtful mom and stepdad.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi there, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I feel very lucky to have them both in my life. I think they enjoy making the packages, as much as I enjoy getting them.

      Listening to the stories is really the best part of getting a box. Mom and I have the best time talking about everything inside. It’s so much fun.

  2. Jayardi Says:

    • • • WOW! Look at those pearls. (I just love them) And aren’t you special to receive two packages within a month from Mom and Bill?

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hey there, I know! The pearls are wonderful. I can’t wait to play around with them. My only concern is the finish. I don’t know how long it will last. Since my quilts won’t generate a lot of wear and tear, I’m hoping they last for a while.

      I think these will work really well with my glass beads and sequins. The contrast of between the finishes will make for really interesting embellishment effects. All I have to do now, is find the right project for them to go on.

  3. penny p Says:

    Sooo cool!!! Your mom is awesome!!! My mom will send packages of this-and-that too and we’ll chat while I open the box. By the time she finally gets it mailed she has forgotten everything she put in it. So I tell her what I’m taking out of the package, then she remembers whatever story needs to go along with it.

    You got a really great package there!!! I have button envy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😉

    Great post, thanks for sharing….and hugs to your awesome mom!!!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Penny, Yeah, I think she’s pretty awesome. It sounds like you have the same wonderful experience I do. Mom fills these boxes over time, so she forgets about what she puts in them too. It’s so sweet, and always a blast to go through the boxes.

      Are the buttons great? I love them. They are very photogenic. I have been collecting this style of button for the last few years. I don’t know what I’m going to make with them, but I know they will be perfect for some future project.

      I’ll keep this group separated from the rest. These buttons have a unique history and I want to include it in the the story of the quilt I put them on. Knowing this history makes the embellishments even more special to me.

      I’ll give mom a hug for you, the next time I see her.

  4. Thearica Burroughs Says:

    WOWEE!! Your mom surely knows how to make her son happy!! I will be watching to see what you do with those buttons! 🙂

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Thearica, Yes, she definitely knows how to make me happy. She is pretty amazing. If I were to make a mom from scratch. I doubt I could have made a better one. I’m very lucky to have had her in my life. Who knows where I’d be without her.

      I have a ton of things in the creative pipeline so there is no telling where these buttons will show up.

  5. Eileen Keane Says:

    I love that you said that her laugh is the best sound in the world-cherish her.
    Nice bling! Your future projects should be awesome.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Eileen, I do cherish her, so much so that it’s hard to put into words. She is a constant source of inspiration. She clever, smart, funny and a joy to be around.

      She also has a great eye for detail and she knows her son very well. 🙂

      I’m looking forward to playing around with these embellishments. They are very different than what normally use, so it’ll be a lot of fun to work with them. I’m sure they will push my approach to embellishment into new directions.

      I can’t wait to get started! Who knows where they will take me?

  6. quilterlynn Says:

    Glad you are blogging about the goodies so we can stay alert for them on your future projects. You are going to have to have a long productive life to use all this bling! ha

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Lynn, I think I’m going to need a couple of lives to use all the stuff I have acquired over the past few years.

      I’m up for the challenge. My pieces are getting more embellished with each new quilt I make, so I may only need two lifetimes, but I’d like to sign up for three, just in case.

      Do you can you point me to the registrar’s office?

  7. Sherry Says:

    Luv-erne! What a gal! Wasn’t it thoughtful for her to leave these treasures for your mom (gotta love her!) and Bill to discover and share with you! I look forward to seeing some pieces you use these gifts in…and the stories you’ll share so we’ll know/remember how they tie/button together.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Sherry, Yes, I think Laverne was quite a gal. She passed away in 1993, so I never met her, but I feel I know her better after going through her stash. I’m sure we would have been great friends.

      Oh yeah, there will be stories—lots of them. I’ve been very fortunate to be gifted with wonderful things from quilters who are no longer with us. I will make sure that their stories and treasures live on in my work.

  8. Sharon Dixon Says:

    Tom, it’s obvious that your mom just loves you too! How fun that she and Bill send you these treasures.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Sharon, Yea, she loves me. She says so every day. Listening to her talk about how she and Bill discuss what goes into the box is hilarious. Bill has a hard time visualizing how this stuff would go on a quilt, but mom assures him it can. They are very cute and I am very blessed to have them in my life.

  9. deb aka purple princess Says:

    I knew it would be a good box o’ treasures, and I was right. That little book on quilting? I have one. There should be a charm bookmark attached, too. ;-D

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Debbie, Yes, another box of treasures. These were really packed too. I still haven’t figured out where I’m going to put all this stuff. I was pretty much maxed out on space before these boxes arrived. Guess I need to do a little reorganizing.

      The little book is so cute. I couldn’t get over it. I’ll look for the charm book mark. I was so enthralled with photographing it, I didn’t actually open it. I think it’ll be a great read, but I’m really looking forward to finding a great place to display it.

  10. kathie Says:

    well just how lucky are you to have a mom like her! Wow what treasures! I love that little book I carry it around with me and while waiting when you didn’t think you would be waiting it comes out to be inspired! I love those buttons! now that box would be a total treasure to me I want to make a plaid quilt some day just to sew buttons on instead of quilting it…
    just one of those things on my list!
    Enjoy those treasures from your mom….

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Kathie, Yep, I’m a pretty lucky guy. Mom was so excited about the little book, she could barely wait for me to find it in the box.

      I agree. From what I’ve read so far, it’s fill with inspiration messages. I am looking forward to spending more time with it. I don’t have a way to carry it around with me, but I can keep it handy for those days when I feel lost.

      I think these buttons would be great on a plaid quilt. The colors aren’t dynamic, but the textures are fantastic! I know they will be perfect for some quilt, all I have to do it make it. Like you, I find them very inspiring.

      Thanks. I will be enjoying them. Every time I look at them or sort through them, I will be reminded of where they came from. They are treasures indeed.

  11. Kelley Says:

    I think I am as excited as you….I had to scroll thru and look and then go back and read. What a nice surprise and so many wonderful treasurers. I don’t know if you remember or not, but Sharon Heidingsfelder would buy solid fabric and paint her designs on it. I remember one time when she was making polka dot fabric that she had a special place for in one of her quilts. Have fun.
    Can’t wait for the next box to arrive from your mom and Bill

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Kelley, I’m pretty excited too. I couldn’t get over how much stuff they had packed into the boxes. I didn’t show all of it, but there was a ton of stuff. Laverne was quite a crafter/quilter and had a wide range of interests.

      She’s a little like me. We love everything, so it’s easy to buy it all. 🙂

      I do remember Sharon and her fabric. She was teaching silk screening at the first Ferndale Retreat I went to. She made wonderful fabric. Like with most things, she made it look easy.

      I hadn’t thought of manipulating or painting the fabric, but that’s a great idea. Thanks!

      I’m looking forward to the next box too. Not so much because of what might be in it, but to share more laughs with mom. We talk every day, but the time we spend going through the boxes is very special. It is really the greatest treasure in the box.

      Thanks for writing. I hope you have a great day!

  12. Dreamz Happen Quiltz Says:

    OH MY WORD!!! Your Mom ( I just love her TOO) and Bill are sooo much fun! Laverne has a victorian taste in fabrics and pearls! I’m feeling a crazy quilt after all these treasures! Thanks for sharing.. Those Levi’s buttons are delish-ous!

  13. Dreamz Happen Quiltz Says:

    pssssstttt.. the buttons are fun but I am CRUSHING on the pearls right now!!

  14. Clara Kosloff Says:

    Tom, I loved this article as you can imagine. You make your mom come to life. I too love the infectious laugh. The package is full of lovely things. I know you will enjoy working with all of them.

  15. Jo Ann Says:

    Love the love you have for your Mom. How refreshing to see you verbilize that feeling. Your collection of buttons make me envious.

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