My Mom is So Creative

Every time I visit my parents or they visit us, I'm struck by how handy and craftsy my mom (Terry Liu) is. She is one of those people whose hands are always busy, whether it is sewing, crocheting, knitting, or paper craft. She doesn't follow patterns, but instead figures out how to make an item by looking at it. She loves learning intricate paper folding techniques. Here are some of her many cool creations:

Money Origami and Paper Folding

I enjoy money origami, but my mom takes it to the next level. All of these creations are made from folded paper pieces. She made the ship and pineapple out of Venezuelan money (using pre-Chavez era currency: once upon a time, before 1983, these were worth quite a lot. The red bills were 5 Bolivars, or  about $1.25, and the brown ones were 100 Bolivars, about $25).


My mom loves to sew. I grew up wearing her handmade clothes (I only admit to being scarred by some of them, though I can't blame her for the 70s jumpsuits or 80s prom dresses we all wore back then). She even made my sister's wedding dress and all the bridesmaids' dresses. Over winter break, we gathered at my sister's place in Massachusetts. In a week, she made this quilt for my niece, who loves cats.

Colorful cat quilt

Fun knitted scarf

Toilet Paper Creations

In November, my parents came to visit while my husband and I went away for a long weekend. While we were away, my mom taught the girls to make dolls out of toilet paper.


My mom was my first artistic inspiration. She took oil painting classes from two artists in Caracas, Olive Turner and Maria Furrer, and signed me up for lessons when I was about 10 or 11. She enjoyed painting scenes from our life and travels in Venezuela. She also made traditional Chinese paintings when she was younger.
Diablos de Yare (Yare Devils)

Salto Angel (Angel Falls)
Night Blooming Cereus - huge blooms that we had on our balcony; every year when they came back, we would have lots of company
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Christmas Ornaments

My parents lived in Caracas for 23 years. During that time, my mom volunteered at a charity called the Children's Service League. She and other women met once a week to sew sequined Christmas ornaments that they would sell. The proceeds would go to a children's hospital dedicated to handicapped and disable children. My mom eventually became head of the sewing room. This is just a small batch that I scavenged from her large collection.
Sequined felt Advent calendar

Sequined felt ornaments

My Grandmother Was an Artist Too

My mother's mom, who I only met twice in my life, also practiced traditional Chinese arts like calligraphy, paper cutting, and watercolors. The two pieces I remember the most are a silk screen covered with the tiniest and most beautifully painted Chinese children, and an intricate bedroom scene made from cut postage stamps. A couple of her paintings:

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  1. Your mom is amazing. All those little folded paper things! So cool.

  2. That money ship is super cool...

  3. Wow-your mom has some serious artistic and crafty skills! The toilet paper dolls are surprisingly pretty.

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  5. Your mom is amazing! Now I see where you get your creativity from. The origami pieces are stunning! I want to learn how to make the ship and the toilet paper dolls. Well, it's a good thing your mom didn't attempt to make you an origami or toilet paper dress for you to wear to your prom.

    February 20, 2013 at 11:03 PM

  6. I say WOW too. The origami is impressive as are the other types of artwork.

  7. Oh my! Your mom is amazing! Wow! The apple doesn't fall far from the tree Sylvia!!!

  8. What a great legacy! Her work is amazing. I'm glad she encourages creativity in you and your daughters.

  9. My mom was creative too, but not to the level that your mom is! You were destined to be an artist with your mom and grandmother's genes!! My dad does Chinese ink paintings and I dabbled in it, but haven't touched it in years. Your posts is making me want to pick it up again. :)

  10. Flabbergasted! Now I'm wondering about her cooking abilities too (yeah, I'm hungry!)

  11. I always remember your mom's creations. I still have my Children's Service League Advent Calendar and Christmas Card holder, and I think of her every December when I put them out. I enjoy watching my kids put the ornaments on the advent tree in the same way I used to. And I absolutely LOVE the Salto Angel painting. I would love to have a painting like that to commemorate my years in Vzla. And you didn't mention your mom's wonderful Chinese cooking. Still the standard in my book!


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