My first inspiration was, of course, my family. I was very fortunate to have grandparents who had been born and raised in Europe, in a beautiful region of Italy named Abruzzo. I was perhaps a little naive in thinking that everyone else had also experienced the amazing food and sensibilities of Europe. Although my grandparents were not well off financially, they were rich in land and culture. Making pasta, working the garden, and spending time on the family farm with my grandmother is one of my most treasured childhood memories.
My earliest recollection of an event that spurred my creative spirit was a short trip that I took across our back yard to a friend's house when I was 5 years old. Playing in her basement, I discovered a passion for, of all things, stocking shelves! My friend had an amazing “play kitchen” in her basement filled with all kinds of miniatures -- child-sized appliances, rows of tidy shelves, beautiful glass jars and small colorful boxes of play food -- I was totally captivated. I remember feeling devastated when she moved away, but my love of shelves stocked with pretty things remained.
When I was 10 years old, My Auntie Dahlia took me to visit the hospital where she worked and it was there that I decided on my first career...a Medical Technologist. The hospital was run by women, an order of Swiss nuns called the Holy Cross Sisters. We visited Aunt Dahlia's friend, Sister Mary Francis, who ran the laboratory and I was completely fascinated by the beautiful shapes of glass, colorful liquids bubbling on burners, even the cages of rabbits (obviously, quite a time ago). Once again I was entranced by the colors, textures and glass design.
(I never really gave these experiences much thought until recently, when I started putting things down on paper. Now I can see the threads and consistencies -- how the influences all fit together.)