I love creative people…I’m in awe of them, really. Put me in a room with an artist and especially one with multiple artistic talents and I’m sit me in her creative space – THE STUDIO…and I’m in heaven!
And…I did just that, when I sat down with Susan DeGarmo, author, painter, seamstress, and creator of altered books (taking old books and re-purposing them into an art piece…or a lamp…or a Christmas decoration…or anything your imagination can create.)
This is NOT just a post for women…everyone, no matter your gender or age can and will relate! Read on…
I’m getting ahead of myself because first you need to know Susan. Not only is she highly creative, but she is pure delight and grace. The minute you meet her, you know that she is comfortable with every part of her being and it emanates from her sparkling eyes and her smile. You just want to be her friend…because whatever she has is sure to rub off. Grace, with serenity and joy added to the mix. is rare and beautiful. So for me, sitting down with Susan was my blessing.
Born and raised in Memphis, she knew from a very young age (like 4 years old) that she had to be creative. She shared that she used to cut up her mother’s sheets and make doll clothes…painted her brother’s tractor with a paint by number set to make it “look better”…pulled the hair out of her sister’s Raggedy Ann Doll to make a clothesline and braided the fringe on her grandmother’s fancy French couch…for which she got in a world of trouble.
She learned to sew at 9 years old on her pint-sized Singer sewing machine and went on to make all her own clothes. Eventually she went to Memphis College of Art BC (before computers as she tells me). This is important because when she came to live in Franklin she took a computer class at O’More College of Design and eventually landed a job teaching…after 1 year she became the Department Chair…left after a few years to spend time with her family and grandchildren and returned in 2005 to teach the History of Graphic Design…
Now here’s where it gets good. Her students wanted to do art with their hands…all of their work was done on the computer and they wanted a true creative outlet. This is when Susan discovered altered books. So, without hesitation, she taught the class.
One day while teaching class she had a HOT FLASH and the rest is history. She got the idea to do an altered book with lightness and humor on the wonders of aging for women! She couldn’t call it menopause…”because no Southern lady would have a book laying around with that title”…so she called it ManyPaws – TheYears of Change and it’s WONDERFUL! She added quotes, pop-ups, funny personal stories and made it so you can personalize it.
But more importantly…she took a subject that is usually so dreary and full of complaining, and made it light-hearted… fun…funny and REAL…real because everyone can relate to this subject even if you haven’t gone through this lovely change in life – you know someone who has. Men can relate because they’ve witnessed the effects first-hand and our kids can relate…because they’ve lived with it.
Susan finds the humor in what’s real. She also believe that “women are really strong and we can get through anything.”
Here’s what I love the most! Susan actually has taken menopause to a whole new level…because she says something happens when women move through this stage of life.
“All of a sudden we say things that we normally wouldn’t say.
You are who you are and somehow you embrace that and it’s very freeing!”
ManyPaws is available on Amazon but if you live in Franklin…please go to Avec Moi on Main Street in Downtown Franklin and get your copy. Susan and I believe so strongly in supporting local shopping that we both want to encourage you to get your copy there. Avec Moi has an exclusive on the book. Individual cards, taken from the pages of the book are also available.
I forgot to mention that as much as Susan is a true creative spirit…the joy is shared with her wonderful husband…two beautiful daughters…two son-in-laws and 5 grandchildren. Every Sunday this family gets together for lunch…pretty cool, I think.
If you want to win an autographed copy of ManyPaws…leave a comment below or send me a private email about why this book should be in on your book shelf! Come on…you know you want a copy if not for yourself…then someone!
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