Saturday, May 21, 2011

Helene White's Artist Legacy

The art world became a little dimmer with the passing of painter and miniature artist Helene White this spring.  I did not have the opportunity to meet Mrs White but I knew from stories told to me by her son and daughter in law that she was a wild flower painter (documenting and preserving through her paintings many of Western Canada's flowers) and well known in the miniature art world.  I imagine we would have had a lot to talk about.  With her passing came the packing up of her art supplies.  I was honored to be gifted with many of these items.  This is just a small selection from the three boxes that were given to me.
Many of you would understand how amazing this collection is.  We mixed media types see and feel so much when our hands touch original artifacts.  Mrs. White's supplies were saved in so many unique containers and bags.  She was a person who saw the value in keeping small things that would be inconsequential to most people.  In one small bag I found this small hat stand and a miniature hat.  There were hats ready to be completed and a small pattern with instructions.
I found teeny tiny basket making supplies.  This stash was set aside to create what would have been a miniature sewing basket.  Look at all the miniature fat quarters she prepared.
 In this classic Kraft cheese carton is a collection of feathers.  There is no doubt in my mind that she collected these herself.  Perhaps on days she sketched or painted flowers.  I understand that her husband accompanied her on some of these trips to ensure that she would not be attacked by Canadian wildlife as she measured and sketched flowers in the wild.
A sewing kit and tiny bias tape.  I love the thread carefully collected on the spiral shaped thread savers.  When was the last time you saved a small piece of thread?
There were many pieces of fabric.  They all have small patterns making them perfect for a miniature artist.  I found this hand stitched pleated section and a miniature quilt in progress.
 Other containers have buttons, interesting yarn snippets, and some dried petals.
I found some very tiny cross stitching.  One inch or smaller.  This fine detail work must be preserved.  I love the tiny design in the hoop, needle still attached as though she would be picking up the project to complete soon.
I hummed and mumbled to myself as I opened every box and bag.  In the yellow box (which originally contained bullets) a lovely collection of silk ribbons.
 This is a pattern and sample for a miniature Christmas stocking.  It even has miniature candies.
And finally the simple plastic cup that held the item that brought a tear to my eye.  Simple and stunning tiny pink flowers.  I have searched for months to find tiny flowers for a project idea I have.  I could not find what I visualized for my idea.  And then here they were.
I think you all know that I will do something special with this gift.  
For now.  Just having had a chance to see and touch everything is enough.
Thank you Michael and Kay White.  Thank you for trusting me with this legacy.


  1. This is a wonderful gift Carmi. I hope my kids think along these lines when they are clearing my work room. (I mean gifting them to someone who would appreciate them) I have collections as I'm sure you do. Would that there would be more hours in the day. Ms. White sounds like an awesome lady. Now I need to go look up some of her work. Thank You for a wonderful tribute.

  2. AnonymousMay 21, 2011

    A bitter-sweet gift. I am sure you will do her honor.

  3. How wonderful that these treasures cam to someone who would truly appreciate them.

    When was the last time I saved a small piece of thread? Ahhh, probably yesterday ;-)

  4. I am sure she would glad they were in the right hands.

  5. Heather LynnMay 30, 2013

    Helene White was my beautiful aunt. My 7 year old son is obsessed with art and wanted to see if any of his great-aunt's work was online. I knew it wasn't, because she was such a private person, and did not enjoy the internet. However, to please my son, I googled her name. I was happily surprised to come upon this blog. Seeing this display of my aunt's collection warms my heart. Yes there is no doubt these items belonged to my dear aunt. The containers they are stored in...the feather collection...the Kraft container....every item has my aunt's (and uncle's) touch! I am grateful my cousin shared these items with you because I know that is what my aunt would have wanted!