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Betsy Porter
Art and Iconography
WORK BY MY TALENTED FAMILY MEMBERS!
WORK BY MY MOTHER, ELIZABETH L. HART (1911-1993) of BALTIMORE, MD

My mom really knew how to make things, and make them beautifully!  In the 40’s and 50’s, a capable and frugal housewife
was expected to provide good things for her large family on her husband’s usually modest single income.  Clothes,
household furnishings, and many other items were relatively expensive; so her hard work and know-how greatly enhanced
our standard of living.

In addition to cooking and gardening and canning, Elizabeth made most of her own clothes and knit her own sweaters, as
well as clothing her 5 children.  She sewed curtains and bedspreads, tailored slipcovers to precisely fit the old sofa, and
wove cane chair seats.  Her high standards showed clearly in the excellent workmanship of every item she produced.

As the children grew up, Elizabeth turned her talents to challenging projects, such as hooked rugs, braided rugs, quilting,
fancy knitting, stained glass, and more.  When learning each new art form, she read all the available reference books and
practiced with great concentration until she mastered the discipline.  My mother never thought of herself as an artist, but
each piece is carefully designed and expertly constructed.  She taught several of these crafts at the Maryland Fiber
Center.

Elizabeth maintained a strong interest in contemporary art and design.  She organized fund-raising tours of early modern
residential architecture; raising awareness of modern design in then-conservative Baltimore.  As a volunteer, she headed
up the Sales and Rental Gallery (now discontinued) at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

What a legacy Elizabeth has left for her family!  She taught us that we too can make beautiful and useful things for our
own families, friends, and communities.  Her example inspires us to keep working, keep learning, and keep on exploring
and enhancing our abilities.
Details of a knit vest and 2 hooked rugs by Elizabeth L. Hart
Left; a stained glass lamp;
and detail of a braided rug.

Elizabeth's hooked and
braided rugs were made
from pure wool fabric strips,
obtained by carefully tearing
worn-out wool clothes and
blankets.  The braided rigs
are extremely sturdy.

Upper right; detail of "Indian
Trails" wall quilt.

Lower right; Elizabeth took a
class in oil painting and
produced this tennis-themed
still life, her only painting of
which I am aware.  She was
an excellent athlete and
especially loved tennis - so
much that her 80th birthday
party was a tennis party!
My parents, Archibald M. Hart and Elizabeth L. Hart,
on their bicycle honeymoon in England, 1935
Elizabeth designed and made these two hooked rugs for my brother John M. Hart and his family.
Left, a portrait of Bullet, their springer spaniel.  Right, a rug based on a brain-teaser or optical
illusion of two (or four) horses that she found in a Scientific American magazine.
My sister CATHY HART of Deer Isle, Maine makes beautiful bead jewelry!

My daughter
SARAH PORTER of Brooklyn, NY is the author of the Lost Voices trilogy of young adult novels about
contemporary teenage killer mermaids.  At her site
www.sarahporterbooks.com you can see her art work and spooky
video, hear a radio interview with the author, and read reviews.

My niece
SHARON HART is a graphic artist and web designer.  Sharon designed a website for her dad, my brother
GORDON HART of Artek Engineering, an engineer specializing in thermal insulation for industrial plants and
commercial buildings.