I was born September 17, 1913 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 1934, I graduated from the Queen of Angels University of Nursing as an RN. My first introduction to miniatures was when a patient gave me a tiny porcelain miniature vase, although I didn't actually begin to collect until the 1940's. I started collecting dolls at that time and did the costuming. When dolls became too expensive to purchase, I made them myself and though my first attempts were not that good, I was so proud of my efforts, I signed all of them! I taught Ceramics, adult education classes, at Lincoln High School from 1957 to 1959, averaging about 50 students to the class. I also taught glove making and doll dressing for $2.00 an hour. The demand for my classes became so great I had to quit as it was beginning to take too much time from my family and our Emergency Ambulance Service.
Money was tight at that time and my husband had given me enough to buy a pair of shoes which I really needed. I used it instead for a down-payment on a miniature Traveler's Sample stove which I fell in love with. I had a jeweler do some repair work on it which led to his hand making many special items for a kitchen roombox of 1915.
One year on a trip to a local auction, I saw an Antique purse done in petite petit-point and my love affair in this area began. At that time, it was almost a lost art and supplies were very difficult to find. In the meantime, I continued to pursue my dollmaking activities, establishing the Monday Sewing Group whereby members received a doll made from an antique mold copy which I named “Miss Fancy.” Members were given the doll and patterns to complete a wardrobe for her. I had been taught French sewing and French ruffling by my grandmother. Membership grew rapidly.
I attended a UFDC Convention in Universal City, California, in 1972 where Allegra Mott was present. We had an impromptu meeting in one of our hotel rooms, and it was at that time Allegra proposed a national organization for miniaturists which would eventually evolve into NAME. I was one of the founding members and designated Chairperson for the international miniature artists which was the beginning of AOH. Dorothy Carter of England was our first international member.
I developed my own techniques for doing petite petit-point, having coined the name to distinguish it from petit point and the term has stuck. I've given lessons in Canada, England and France as well as the U.S. My work is represented in several museums, both public and private on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as in many private collections, including that of Julie Eisenhower. I've done special projects to raise money for worthy causes such as the Lincoln Public Library and Lincoln Arts and have done many things to benefit disadvantaged children.
I've had a long and wonderful affiliation with the many people in the miniature collecting world, from the notables to the many people who are just discovering this little world and have always believed “knowledge is for sharing” which I've tried hard to do.
Editor's Note: Martha has been an inspiration to the miniature hobby in her sharing and giving of herself to all involved, through her love of miniatures.
Reprinted from "A Reference Guide to Miniature Makers Marks" ISBN: 0-9644481-0-6
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