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Admin Dads: Legacies of Creativity

Jun 15, 2010

by Vanessa Bertozzi handmade and vintage goods

As an homage to the coming Father’s Day, Etsy Admin collaborated on this post to reflect on the creativity passed down from generation to generation. I may not have grown up with a father tinkering in any garage, but the patriarchal blood in my line traces back to milliners in the Old Country. Embroidered heirlooms in my family’s closet come not from feminine quilting circles, but instead from the men who worked the seams with calloused fingers. My grandfathers and great-grandfathers labored on the Lower East Side in parallel, coat-makers who carried their union cards in their right pockets. Yes, Etsy is largely a community of empowered, artistic women, but I like to see my crafty heritage as coming from these quiet figures of proletarian masculinity, my own fingertips stained and torn from the industry of making.

Jason, a.k.a. jasonmseger: “My dad grew up working the family tobacco farm. He built the log cabin house we grew up in and made just about everything we ever wanted or needed. I guess some people may refer to him as a handyman or a carpenter, but I like to think Jimbo just gets it done.

“Our science fair projects weren’t mounted on store-bought cardboard, but rather ply wood and hinged backboards he threw together. A large and ridiculous picnic table sat in our kitchen where we’d gather for homework or dinner. My brother and I got very seriously into baseball so Jimbo built us a batting cage, but it didn’t last long. He built an indoor hitting facility over it. And when I moved into my own apartment after college, Jimbo arrived with a large shelf to house my growing record collection. Now I find him re-gripping golf clubs.

“Jimbo is a master of framework. When he was building homes or decks, he’d bring me along to job sites at various stages of completion. He handled a tape measure like cowboys handle a lasso. His belt held hammer, nails, and chalking devices instead of Colt 45’s. Though I am not resourceful in the same ways as him, his character and drive are monumental to me. Each time I return home, something has been converted or opened, and become a new thing. I’m convinced that my dad enjoys the chaos in creation.”

Vanessa: “My grandfather, Urban ‘Beanie’ Bean, sailed on tall ships around the world as a young merchant marine. He was an incredibly creative person in an unconventional way. Beanie expressed it mainly through telling stories and collecting odds and ends that he would display in his bedroom and the clubhouse he built in the backyard. Every wall had things like ship models, photos, see-no-evil-speak-no-evil monkey figurines — he even had a stuffed armadillo hanging in lobster netting from the rafters. After he passed away, when we were sorting his things, we discovered the inside lid of his treasure chest — covered with his macrame knots and family photographs. This very eclectic nautical decor must have sparked memories for him — a way for him feel like he was on a boat, where he felt at home.”

Sarah, a.k.a. rockstarpoli: “I am lucky enough to have both a crafty dad and a crafty stepdad to celebrate this Father’s Day.

“My dad, Chris, started to draw and paint as soon as he could pick up a pencil. I remember with particular fondness the various art lessons he would give me as I grew up — charcoal shading!, watercolors!, lettering! — I’m still not entirely sure I followed the lessons, I just loved any excuse to make a mess. One of his great landscape oil paintings hung in our living room and I remember the day I climbed a chair and decided to add to it with a bottle of pink nail polish. It was not my finest hour, but that pink blob still shines out from the center of the piece where it hangs in my mom’s house (I’m lobbying for ownership). A trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with my dad, who was an early student at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, is an exercise in pure joy and art appreciation. My dad continues to paint and also craft incredible music as a professional jazz musician and his art lives with me daily in various ways. He sends me a pumpkin that he painstakingly paints with my portrait every Halloween. Hand-drawn birthday cards that I’ll never part with outline a year in my life — including drawings of X-ed out faces of exes, renderings of me sitting at a desk at work, and strange outfits I may have graced him with throughout the year. When eating out, we continue to choose restaurants that have paper placemats so that we can spend our meals drawing. I sadly did not really inherit his drawing gifts, but I’m never without a selection of Dad-approved pens in my bag should I find myself with idle hands.

“My stepdad, Joe, came into my life about ten years ago and with him came a master woodworker who also makes beautiful stained glass lamps, knows how to electrically wire an entire house, can feed the neighborhood with homemade sausages and bread, and is able to sew a button or patch onto any shirt I decide to destroy. His woodworking skills are the ones I want to brag about here, as I’ve gained an incredible appreciation for the skill required for such beautiful work thanks to him. Every visit (which is thankfully pretty often since all of my parents only live about two hours away) brings with it a new understanding of the work he does — from turning gifts for eagerly expectant family members to restoration work for a local church. My personal favorites are his wood-turned salt and pepper shaker sets that look like Russian cathedrals made of wood. I chose my current apartment based on its ability to house the beautiful wooden farm table I grew up with that Joe restored. It’s in Manhattan now, so it’s pretty much the only furniture I have, but it brings me comfort every time I sit down at it. That table came into my life originally through my dad and remains with me due to my stepdad. The influence of both of my dads leads me to pause any time I need something new for my home or for the office — I wonder how can this be handmade? How can this object I need have more meaning? They both have a natural gift for figuring these answers out. I honestly can’t say enough about these two forces in my life, and for that I am eternally thankful  — especially to my mom who certainly has some great taste!”


Heather, a.k.a. hebo: “The stereotypical artsy genes flow on my maternal side, with talented seamstresses, interior decorators and a painter among her kin. My dad isn’t an artist — he’s a practical man, very much a do-it-yourselfer. He inherited from my grandpa a knack for doing a lot with very little, and the talent for saving everything — even down to bent nails.

“While not artistic, my dad is creative. He built my brother and me an amazing treehouse — with two floors and an escape rope! — from partially salvaged materials. At my last apartment he created a custom loft bed so I could still fit my enormous dresser into my tiny bedroom. His problem solving has rubbed off on me — I now scour flea markets and Craigslist to see if someone’s cast-off possession can become my budget-conscience design renovation.

“My dad has taught me that money is not a boundary — with enough creativity, hard work and resourcefulness, anything is possible. This lesson gives me more freedom and confidence than I know. Now if only they would let me salvage my own firewood from Central Park…”

Julie, a.k.a. julieincharge: “As long as I’ve known my dad, he’s never had much hair, but he has always wielded a persistent and understated wit and an uncanny knack for puns and wordplay. (Friends, you can thank my dad for that skill that I seem to have acquired!) All throughout my life, my dad has always cooked up the most delicious meals and encouraged me to read the best books. My parents’ home is literally lined with books from floor to ceiling, so it is really no shock that I emerged the book-loving lady that I am.

“As a young adult book reviewer, writer, member of many book award committees, 7th and 8th grade English teacher, and all around champion of reading and writing, my father has had an impact on the lives of many young readers and writers, and I am no exception. My dad instilled in me a love of writing by setting me up with journals from the time I could hold a pencil, and recording my stories for me to illustrate before I could even write. Every night as a kid, my dad would read to my brother and me, and we made our way through stories that have stuck with me to this day, including all 14 books of The Wizard of Oz series.

“In college, when I was having anxieties that my art major track would lead me to a life of unemployment and miserable destitution, my dad cheered me on to stay on track and stick to pursuing an education and a future that I truly loved. I have always been infinitely grateful for my dad’s encouragement, and keep his book recommendations, cooking tips, and all around support at heart every day.”


Has your father or grandfather inspired you? Share in the comments below!

More Father’s Day Posts | About Us Series | A Dude’s Perspective

Print of Father and Son Holding Hands by RASCHE, 8x10 mat, 5 x 7 image
Print of Father and Son Holding Hands by RASCHE, 8x10 mat, 5 x 7 image
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Boro glass stopper maker tool by Fyrsmith
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Brown Leather Pocket Notebook with Mixed Vintage Papers
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Rugged Camo Canteen Belt


  • TallyLocke

    TallyLocke said 6 years ago

    Great stories. My dad was a farmer and woodworker, that's what started my woodworking and obsession with handmade objects. Thanks for sharing!

  • Ayca

    Ayca said 6 years ago

    Great article! Thanks for sharing :)

  • LuRuUniques

    LuRuUniques said 6 years ago

    Great article, Thanks for sharing. Love the pictures with your Dads.

  • thehopetree

    thehopetree said 6 years ago

    lovely article. thanks for letting us know parts of your history with your dads. My dad taught me so much, I am truly grateful to him.Even though he left us early, I can pass onto my son those wonderful lessons.

  • WeeBindery

    WeeBindery said 6 years ago

    Beautiful article! Thank you so much for sharing your stories with us! The pictures were wonderful!

  • amazing784

    amazing784 said 6 years ago

    My dad is a civil engineer and an excellent woodworker. He's made all the kitchen cabinets in every house I lived in growing up, and I even got to make a sculpture of my own with the scraps from the remodel when I was in 2nd grade. My parents still have it hanging on the wall in their newest house. I think I inherited his tendency to talk to himself while deep in thought during a project...I catch myself mumbling in the same tone of voice that he uses while working on a project.

  • boutiqueseragun

    boutiqueseragun said 6 years ago

    Great woodworks,lovely pictures

  • ladaworks

    ladaworks said 6 years ago

    Great article. I love the pictures with your dad's.

  • paramountvintage

    paramountvintage said 6 years ago

    wonderful article! thanks for sharing your stories and photographs!

  • billyandwinston

    billyandwinston said 6 years ago

    Great article! :)

  • SewnNatural

    SewnNatural said 6 years ago

    these are fabulous anecdotes - thank you for sharing them.

  • candacejean

    candacejean said 6 years ago

    I love these stories and the old photos! How sweet!! My dad would clear our little neighborhood street of snow with the plow he welded himself and built for his 1942 Dodge pickup. I remember being small and peeking up over the table as he worked on his charcoal drawings. He used to make us amazing animal-shaped pancakes every Sunday for dinner, and we'd eat them off the fine china from my mother's hutch that my dad built her by hand for her birthday. *Sigh* Happy Father's day! A wonderful tribute to inspirational dads.

  • paulofnavarone

    paulofnavarone said 6 years ago

    very nice.

  • Zyada

    Zyada said 6 years ago

  • Zyada

    Zyada said 6 years ago

    So is html stripped from comments. I tried to post a picture of my dad. Here's the photo:

  • baconsquarefarm

    baconsquarefarm said 6 years ago

    aah wonderful pictures ~ plus the story's you've told bout your families ie dad's or great grandfather's are so inspiring. Enjoyed reading all of them, thanks for sharing a bit of history & a peek inside what makes each of you tick.

  • poplovedesigns

    poplovedesigns said 6 years ago

    Aw, so lovely to hear about crafty dads! Mine's absolutely obsessed with warhammer figurines and playing the drums, but I've got to say, the craftiness in my family is definitely heavier on the ladies of the house! <3 Andrea

  • undermyfeet

    undermyfeet said 6 years ago

    I love the items they are very manly.

  • sherrytruitt

    sherrytruitt said 6 years ago

    Thanks for sharing, this is a lovely piece. xoSherry

  • TipsyTimeMachine

    TipsyTimeMachine said 6 years ago

    My grandfather built his first house at the same time he was clearing farmland in the northern prairies. Kitchen cupboards, furniture, barns and garages were all built from scratch with a minimal of tools. For the grandchildren he welded a giant swingset as tall as a one story house, we would spend hours swinging as high as we could. It was donated to a kid's camp after he passed away.

  • sajataeford2bd

    sajataeford2bd said 6 years ago

    Super Fun Stuff. I love this blog post.

  • akcArt

    akcArt said 6 years ago

    Cute stories and pics!

  • bejeweledbynikki

    bejeweledbynikki said 6 years ago

    So sweet! xo

  • saintesmariesjewelry

    saintesmariesjewelry said 6 years ago

    lovely article, great pictures... my dad is crafty too!

  • heatherfuture

    heatherfuture said 6 years ago

    Super lovely! Really nice read. My dad's artistic abilities don't extend far beyond stick men (who battle each other with stick tanks, bombs, and air planes). Still, as is true with so many dads, his creativity always comes out in wonderfully unexpected ways.

  • bittersweetdesign

    bittersweetdesign said 6 years ago

    Although I never got to know my dad really well, I do know for a fact that he was very talented. One year at Christmas time, (I was a young child), I remember him painting our picture window with the Nativity scene. The neighbors were in awe. It was amazing... My brother's pine car derby hot rod was completely tricked out and included leather strips on the sides - cut from an old wallet. He's been dead now for 15 years. I wish I had known him in a different way, and that we could have bonded over our creativity. I like to think that could have happened. Happy Father's Day to all the great dads out there!

  • maggiemaevintage

    maggiemaevintage said 6 years ago

    my dad was very crafty too...took things apart to create another life from them.

  • JustBakin

    JustBakin said 6 years ago

    Dad's rock :)

  • bhangtiez

    bhangtiez said 6 years ago

    Lovely stories...thanks so much for sharing!

  • VintageStarrBeads

    VintageStarrBeads said 6 years ago

    My dad was a jewelr and alwyas inventing the craziest things..things that were punk and pop art way before their time. My favorite ring that he made for me? A plastic red die drilled and handset with diamonds in the dots and then GLUED into an ebony wood handcarved setting. very ostentatious outrageous and always fun! He's unfortunately almost blind now, barely moving, in a nursing home, bedridden. I am sooo sad right now!-Rachelle Starr

  • galanight

    galanight said 6 years ago

    Thanks for sharing!

  • VintageStarrBeads

    VintageStarrBeads said 6 years ago

    My dad was a jeweler but always inventing things outside that were punk or pop before their time! my fav? A red plastic die, drilled and set with diamonds in the dots and epoxied into a black ebony wood hand carved ring. He's in a nursing home now, bedridden, nearly blind and I am so sad for this father's day! At least he is still alive. My heart is breaking!-Rachelle Starr

  • rarebeasts

    rarebeasts said 6 years ago

    Great stories about your dads, nice items as well.

  • davisdesignsau

    davisdesignsau said 6 years ago

    Great to read all of the memories, and good to remind us of our own precious ones, and quite how wonderful these men are!

  • lovelygifts

    lovelygifts said 6 years ago

    Great article! Thank's for sharing!

  • davisdesignsau

    davisdesignsau said 6 years ago

    Rachelle Starr... it is heartbreaking to read yours, but think of all the fun he has had doing what he loved, and the legacy he is leaving in place for future Starrs! :-)

  • SavageArtworks

    SavageArtworks said 6 years ago

    Great to read about the dads. I was without mine for the first time this Father's Day, but he loved.

  • indigotwin

    indigotwin said 6 years ago

    Sheesh! Thanks for adding our paper mache father and child to this blog! We love it...and we love Dads! To all the Dads out there, we appreciate all that you do and so do your children! -cortney and kirsten

  • ManateeDreamsInc

    ManateeDreamsInc said 6 years ago

    I love the Dad stories everyone... My dad was one who had no formal training in building but he and my mom bought a shell of a home and finished the wiring and other finish details back in the 40s well before I was born. Years later, Dad built a shop building using salvaged window panels from an old store for his exterior walls. He was an amazing human being.

  • birdie1

    birdie1 said 6 years ago

    Wonderful post! Love seeing all the dad's and young admins. Love the lesson, quote: "money is not a boundary —with enough creativity, hard work and resourcefulness, anything is possible".

  • Emmamaha

    Emmamaha said 6 years ago

    So heartwarming and sweet. I like these articles. We get to meet some of the admin (finally). Thanks for sharing all your cool Dad stories and your pictures. :)

  • julieboyles

    julieboyles said 6 years ago

    What a wonderful article. My dad can do/make just about anything and I depend on his wisdom more and more. Thanks for sharing your dads with us!

  • thelittlemarket

    thelittlemarket said 6 years ago

    Dad's are great!!! Thanks for a awesome article.

  • VedaArts

    VedaArts said 6 years ago

    my dad rocks too! he's a yoga instructor and a carpenter!

  • opendoorstudio

    opendoorstudio said 6 years ago

    happy fathers day to all etsy dads! I miss mine! he passed long ago! I think he would have loved etsy!

  • mrhudon

    mrhudon said 6 years ago

    Great article! Happy Fathers Day to all the dads..

  • AntoinettesWhims

    AntoinettesWhims said 6 years ago

    Makes me miss my Dad. Love you dad while he's still with you!

  • rowenamurillo

    rowenamurillo said 6 years ago

    My dad is a painter, a photographer and a film maker. He encouraged me to be an artist from the very earliest. My grandfather didn't paint, but anything he could dream, he could make with his own two hands, from a sail boat in his barn, to a new kitchen, to a toy sword for his grandson to cement garden sculptures. I wouldn't be who I am without them.

  • NaiyaArtBoutique

    NaiyaArtBoutique said 6 years ago

    Nice Article.. My dad isnt a crafter by profession, but he has done even the smallest things in our home.. He is best at everything.. He is gifted.. I love my Dad :)

  • LiaLane

    LiaLane said 6 years ago

    Wonderful article, on a Wonderful subject!! :)

  • recycledwares

    recycledwares said 6 years ago

    love seeing the old photos. thanks for sharing your stories.

  • craftpile

    craftpile said 6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing!

  • polkadotmagpie

    polkadotmagpie said 6 years ago

    So sweet...thanks for sharing your dads/stepdads.

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 6 years ago

    Wonderful Dads and their stories!

  • Tarapparel

    Tarapparel said 6 years ago

    Thanks for sharing! Great article!

  • KARozWoodworking

    KARozWoodworking said 6 years ago

    Great stories. My dad is the best painter I have ever seen and can chip carve with the best of them. Years of working (through school) with him painting made me pretty good with a brush also, but no one can paint a window frame faster than him!

  • hippiekingdom

    hippiekingdom said 6 years ago

    Beautiful stories.. My dad is a cartoonist, he pampered us with a lot of drawing books and colors when we were kids.. He used to draw for my brother in his Science Lab Book.. The amoeba and bacteria and everything else looked like cartoons and caricatures..:) It is sooo nice to have the creative vibes at your house isn't it.. And a happy father's Day to all the Lovely Dads :)

  • theivorymagnolia

    theivorymagnolia said 6 years ago

    great stories.

  • baruchslullaby

    baruchslullaby said 6 years ago

    Thanks for sharing the stories... I love my dad's creativity - he builds racecars. :)

  • zeropumpkin

    zeropumpkin said 6 years ago

    awww thats sweet :D

  • workingthewool

    workingthewool said 6 years ago

    My father came to this country when he was 18 in 1938 to see the New York World's Fair. He got stuck here when WWII broke out just two weeks before he was to return to Riga, Latvia. At that time he spoke only German, Russian and Latvian. He became a US citizen by enlisting in the US Army. Dad eventually became a NASA engineer and worked on various space program projects, including the second stage of the Saturn V space vehicle and the purge system of the Orbiter. My engineer dad could literally do anything. Back in the 60's and 70's VW Bugs were the "in" thing with the Rockwell engineers, so he was always doing things with his '66 Beetle, and insisted that his three daughters learn how to not only change a tire and change oil, but gap and replace spark plugs, time the ignition, replace brake shoes and pull an engine to replace the clutch! My dad did carpentry, plumbing, wiring, designed and built furniture, gardened, taught himself silversmithing and lapidary work, taught himself how to cook and how to can fruit and make jam from all the trees he planted. There was nothing he couldn't figure out. As a draftsman, he could design and draw anything. He was a good photographer. He had been a boyscout when he was growing up in Latvia (and met Lord Baden Powell at one scouting event!) and taught me and my two sisters how to camp. Some of the things I treasure most are wooden shuttles he made for me to weave with, a spinning wheel he made for me, a silver bracelet with a huge malachite stone in it and a beautiful black walnut jewelry chest he hand-carved the dovetail joints on as well as my name and birthyear. Sadly, my dad now has dementia and is in an assisted living facility. His hearing is shot and he knows that his brain just doesn't work as well as it used to. This creative man gave me my love of reading, my can-do attitude and my ability to take on new challenges.

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 6 years ago

    Great post! I hope you all have a fantastic fathers day, its too easy to forget that our dads can be crafty too : )

  • nowonder

    nowonder said 6 years ago

    Great stories!Its great to read about all these dads that take an active part in your life.

  • julessabjewelry

    julessabjewelry said 6 years ago

    I love these stories of amazing dads. It really is nice to know we do have such talent and inspirations coming from both genders of our families! My grampa was a musician. He carried a harmonica everywhere he went and was always breathing a tune, maybe that's where my love of all music stems from.

  • jcisco112

    jcisco112 said 6 years ago

    Wonderful Stories!!

  • Krystyna81

    Krystyna81 said 6 years ago

    these are fantastic stories! I was lucky enough to just share the connections I discovered with my Great grandfather on the Storque, so I'll skip that one :) But I do want to commend all of the Male Creative Types who DO share their talents and creativity with their Children, thru woodwork, or cooking, or reading. I don't think that the "permission" to be creative is bestowed upon the Male of the Species as it is upon the Female. Without creativity, there can be no problem-solving. And what a great gift to give your children - the ability to express yourself, AND the knowledge and power to discover a solution to any problem.

  • NotYoMommasHandbag

    NotYoMommasHandbag said 6 years ago

    Thank you for this story....makes me smile.

  • Pearlk2

    Pearlk2 said 6 years ago

    Great article, thanks for sharing.

  • girltuesdayjewelry

    girltuesdayjewelry said 6 years ago

    There's something about photos of dads with their kids that make me misty. Beautiful article and photos!

  • Ozknits

    Ozknits said 6 years ago

    My dad drew comic strips for a living. When I was really young, I yearned for a dad with a "real" job. By the time I reached middle school, everyone thought I had the coolest dad in the world. He would draw cartoons of my friends and they loved it. I thought my dad was the coolest too and I regret ever thinking he didn't have a "real" job. But what do we know in third grade? My dad passed away while I was in my freshman year of college. I really miss him.

  • yoshibearstudio

    yoshibearstudio said 6 years ago

    Though my father isn't here with me anymore, he always encouraged me to cultivate my artistic and creative side. Though I "grew up" to become a pharmacist, the one thing that never feels like work is creating jewelry, especially for my friends and family. Works of art that come from the heart always seem to be a gift they will cherish for a lifetime. Come visit me to share in my labors of love : )

  • sigidesign

    sigidesign said 6 years ago

    Both my grandfather and father were goldsmith. My dad apprenticed at my very strict grandfather in Germany. Having experienced the strict teachings from my grandfather, he decided that I should go to art and craft university Pforzheim Germany, instead of being taught by him. At first I was upset, but I soon learned that he was right. At the school I had many teachers, proffessors and all the other art students to inspire me. After four years of school I began working with my dad. We were pals, we learned from each other, we worked together and even went skiing together. Somehow I still miss him after all these years, but grateful I was so priviledged.

  • studio35

    studio35 said 6 years ago

    Happy Fathers Day to all the dads..

  • FloweryDeer

    FloweryDeer said 6 years ago

    Great read!

  • JanesGemCreations

    JanesGemCreations said 6 years ago

    Happy Father's Day to all the Dads. Terrific stories!

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