Why Wilhelmina’s Memories? My great-grandmother Wilhelmina Larsina Rosa Helvig, emigrated from Denmark to the United States as a teenager with her family in the early 1880’s. They eventually migrated to Nebraska where she married Charles Freeman Howard. The name of my business is a testament to the creative legacy she handed down through succeeding generations. Grandmother Howard was an accomplished seamstress, crocheted and tatted beautiful lace, knitted, quilted and was a business woman, all as she raised four children. Her daughters carried on the legacy and included my grandmother Irene who was not only a wonderful seamstress, quilter and handcrafter, but an amazing painter who focused on china painting. She also did woodworking and loved to go fishing in lakes and rivers. She raised six children. Three of her daughters were also very creative in different ways. The oldest daughter was named Mina for her grandmother and she carried on the legacy with designing and making clothing as well as a variety of other fiber related endeavors as embellishments. Miriam’s art focused on handwork like embroidery and creative crafts. My mother, Ruth became an accomplished watercolor artist and musician. My middle name is also Mina to carry on that family name. The memories that we keep of our loved ones in the past are often discussed in my generation as we reminiscence while looking at the some of the creative output of their artistic legacy. All of my siblings have artistic skills and my mother’s wish was that we use that talent in some way. I started this business to fulfill her wish for me and to commemorate the legacy that has been handed down.
My goal for Wilhelmina’s Memories is to produce something that is beautiful and unique and will be appreciated by the individual who purchases it. As I unfortunately do not have the ability to paint like my mother did, I do have the fiber-related ability to work with fabrics and wool. My techniques include needle felting which is using sharp barbed needles and wool fibers to make three dimensional figures. I also make items through the process of wet felting which is taking wool fibers and using water and olive oil soap, as well as a lot of rolling and agitation, to make a solid piece of wool felt. In addition, items are made through the process of nuno felting. This is a technique that allows the creation of a very sheer, strong fabric using natural fabrics like silk or cotton and bonding it with very thin layers of wool fibers.