Ever wonder about the manikin? It’s not really a standard dress form–notice the slightly rounded belly, small chest and very long torso. That’s because it’s shaped like me. My mom made it when she sewed a gorgeous fuchsia satin dress for me to wear to my wedding reception.
Dressed in a clear plastic bag over underwear, I stood on my mom’s linoleum dining room floor. She soaked plaster gauze sheets in water and worked quickly to layer them over my body before they stiffened. As the sheets hardened into a shell, I thought I couldn’t breath. My husband rushed to get me a glass of water. The plaster had barely set when my mom hurriedly cut into it to get me out.
A couple of days later my mom taped the halves back together, sealed the leg openings, and filled the mold with an instant, quick-setting foam mix. After it set, she removed the cast. Then she sanded it smooth and added a very thin layer of soft foam. She finished with a nylon sheath and black elastic lines to mark important axes.
It’s strange to think about my mom–who could never admit I’d stopped being her baby–shaping my adult female form. But it’s also touching to realize how much love-labor she put into that whole dress project.
The mannikin lives with me now, trying on clothes as I crochet them. And in learning crochet and knitting, I noticed certain similarities in the way we each approach crafting. We both obsessively pursue each craft, trying to understand it thoroughly and systematically. We both buy too many books and spend countless hours trawling the web for inspiration. We are both perfectionists; “good enough” always feels like a sad compromise.
This is part of a growing list of similarities which I usually just find disturbing. But in this case it’s also a commonality that makes me feel closer to my mother.
Thanks, Mom! For the mannikin, and for the gift of craftiness.