- Jessica Gray
Meeting Daveena: THE Makeaholic!
It was a beautiful day in sunny southern California and I was off on a field trip to meet someone I had heard all about, Daveena Limonick: The Makeaholic. “You HAVE to meet Daveena!” - a close friend exclaimed. “I’ve never met anyone like her.”
A little background before I take you through my day… Daveena Limonick, maiden name D’Angelo, was born in 1947 in Hollywood, California. Having two well versed artists for parents, it was only natural for Daveena to follow in their footsteps. After high school, Daveena went to Valley College and took every single art class she could get her hands on! It was through her art history class, as well as studying beneath Zella Marggraf in 1966, that she began her journey as a jewelry artist / goldsmith. Daveena has also been a professional landscape designer for 25 years. For fun, Daveena designs and builds furniture, makes hats, costumes and clothing for herself. If that isn’t enough, Daveena also paints children’s artwork, makes teddy bears for people’s lost loved ones, and has even recorded her own Solo Jazz album. She is a true Makeaholic and is most fulfilled when she is making things with her hands.
Now back to my field trip. The sun was shining and the traffic was light - it was time to meet Daveena! We were en route from Los Angeles to Montecito. I was super eager to arrive as I knew it was going to be a memorable day. I stepped out of the car, and was immediately in awe of her beautiful driveway smothered in lush greenery. We heard her voice from across the street and were greeted by her emerging from her neighbours garden. She happened to be accompanied by a brand new black labrador puppy. Daveena was dressed in a gorgeous apron she had made for herself. It was bright red and covered in roses. Her red hair was glowing in the sun and she was holding her gardening clippers in hand - which I soon found out she went nowhere without.
We said our “hello’s” and then made our way back over to her driveway. I was already enamored. Before we even entered the front gate to her home we had two full-blown tours: one of the “gyspy wagon” (what some people might call a front shed) and the other of her workshop.
When we walked into the Gypsy Wagon, Daveena showed us a beautiful tree painting, about 4 x 4 inches in size, that she had painted while she was flying on a plane! Yes, she travels with paint... and a pen… and paper. She’s not allowed to bring knitting needles though! The tree painting was so small, yet so beautiful. Daveena then showed us a “lazy susan” that she had also crafted and painted herself. It had the same style of trees painted on it, and happened to be inspired by the airplane painting’s tree motif. My eyes scanned the little room we were in and I could feel there were different characters from Daveena’s life everywhere I glanced. Don’t forget, we are still inside of a shed and I must mention that I am diagnosed with ADHD. Not just anyone can hold my undivided attention like she was. Above one of the shelves, Daveena had a collection of little chairs. She told us they were all found in different places all over the country, all so cute and unique. There was even a set of marching band drumline drums in the Gypsy Wagon! I learned that her husband, Peter, was currently a part of a drumline and was actually a professional musician. I could tell everything I was looking at had a story to go along with it but we only had a few hours to get acquainted that day, so we had to spend them wisely. We brought our conversation out of the gypsy wagon. On the fence outside, a quote read: “the essence of life is to care, the secret of life is to dare, the adventure of life is to learn, the challenge of life is to change, the joy of life is to love.” I took a quick photo and on we went!
As we walked over to her workshop we had another meaningful conversation about the teddy bears and stuffed animals that she makes. Daveena is a part of a group that takes clothing of people’s deceased loved ones, often children, and recycles them into teddy bears / stuffed animals. For example, if they had a favorite sweater, they would turn the sweater into a little teddy bear that you can hug and hold on to. She told us she even puts a little heart inside each one of them. Having lost her son Max, innocently to a drunk driver, Daveena understands the pain these families are going through very deeply. Creating and giving became the most healing thing in her life for her. She told us that it feeds her soul and that creativity saved her life when she lost her son. It helped her become more versatile and truly open her mind to creativity as an essential part of her life to keep her alive.
Next up: The Workshop. Even the way she opened the sliding barn door excited me. I knew we were in for a treat considering the tiny gypsy wagon was so interesting. I walked in and a million stories started flowing out of the walls. At a first glance, I see instruments, flying pigs hanging from the ceiling, motorcycles, a doll house, a large armoire. I quickly realized this workshop was much more than meets the eye. This is where the magic happens! We were of course graced with many more anecdotes as well as shown where she crafts her jewellery and her custom molds for her pieces.
After the workshop, we finally entered her front gate, into her home. It was like walking into a little piece of heaven. There were beautiful succulents, colors everywhere… You know a landscape artists’ home is going to be stunning but it is just so special to see with your own set of eyes! We enter the house and made our way into the kitchen for a famous appetizer! The kitchen itself was a sight to see. The kitchen was filled with many colors, plants, fruit, vintage appliances... We all gathered around the island and looked up at the ceiling only to see a beautiful painting surrounding a skylight window. Daveena told us one day, this idea just came to her and she had to paint it on the ceiling. We were lucky enough to have one of Daveena’s favourite snacks while we talked in the kitchen. You know the brown cheesecake factory bread!? Well if you put a little... actually, I can’t give it all away now… We chatted over tea and snacks, and then into the living room we went. My eyes darted over to the bugle horn and I asked if I could play it. This ended up turning into a mini music recital where we all played our respective instruments. I reluctantly played my favorite ragtime piano song only to find out her husband (who was watching) was a professional musician and had worked on hundreds and hundreds of movies as a percussionist in the orchestra! It was very humbling to meet him. Then we got to listen to Daveena’s Solo Jazz record. She told us how she used to be so terrified to sing in front of anyone, she would just sing in the shower and that was it! It was so cool to learn so much about one person all in one day!
We followed Daveena down a long & colorful hallway and she took us into her costume closet / sewing room. Daveena showed us a hat she had made in an attempt to save a historic home in Los Angeles that was going to be torn down. She made this hat - to scale - and wore it on her head around when she asked people to sign the petition to not destroy the home. As you might expect, Daveena showed us many more costumes and hats, and told us their respective creation / wearing stories.
The final spot of the day was Daveena’s Garden! Of course we knew it was going to exceed our expectations just as the rest of the day had. We walked through the garden of hearts, through the backyard to see a beautiful 12 foot long table that she had made, and into a blue area of the garden. Everything in this section was cobalt blue. There were bright blue rod iron pieces hanging from the trees, a big blue dog, bright blue table and chairs...for a moment I felt like I was in Alice and Wonderland. Throughout our walk through the garden she would trim little pieces along the way, telling us the other plants beneath them needed to breathe. The way she personified the garden really showed how much passion she had for the plants. Daveena told us sometimes she thinks she has too much compassion for the plants.
Our adventure soon came to an end as we reached the end of the garden. We drove home with happy hearts and my mind was racing just trying to keep up with everything I had just seen. I could write pages and pages but we’ll have to save the rest for a rainy day, or perhaps…a documentary!