March 4, 2003 - We have an amazing personality here at PCC, and she is celebrating her 90th birthday today! Her name is Genevieve Ciavarelli, and if you recognize that name then you've probably seen her work in many of the PCC Challenges, or you've been lucky enough to meet her at a retreat or SCPCG meeting. Leigh has been fortunate to meet and get to know Genevieve, and here's some of her thoughts...
"Over the years, as I've grown as a website owner and a clay artist, I've met hundreds of people in person and online who are interested in clay, computers, or just interested in life, but the person who stands out in all three of these categories more than anyone else I know is Genevieve. As we at PCC celebrate her 90th birthday, I stand in awe of this woman who first picked up a computer at the age of 86! While I've watched many "grownups" who were afraid of the cyberage, and who had no idea of what being online meant, I can't help but give credit to Genevieve, who leaped into the internet at the tender age of 86! I'm reminded of the old Nike ad of "Just Do It" - Genevieve sets out with a goal, and lets nothing stand in her way.Genevieve: "I was a late bloomer. At age 39, I got my Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Ithaca College. After working as a librarian at Cornell University until I was 50, I acquires a MLS Degree at San Jose State College. At age 52, I moved to New York and was a children's librarian there. Sesame Street had just begun and I was inspired to buy Super Sculpey and make puppets and put on shows for the children. A trip to Italy, when I was 57, changed my life, because I met Vincent Ciavarelli from Connecticut. We married five months later and put on puppet shows at libraries and birthday parties. I made the puppet heads, hands and feet and props from polymer clay. We had 20 happy years and then he passed away. When one door closes, another opens. At senior center, I met Ethel Palmer and Georgia Stabell, who made jewelry from polymer clay. We bought Nan Roche's New Clay book and attended a Shrine Mont retreat. By then, I was a clay addict. My grandson sold me his computer when I was 86 and I discovered E-mail and Polymer Clay Central, with it's swaps and Challenges. I swapped 'til I dropped and entered many Challenges. We also attended more Shrine Mont and Connecticut guild retreats, where I was lucky enough to meet Leigh and swap with her. As I face my 90th birthday in March, I'm working on Big Beads for another swap!" Genevieve Ciavarelli
Genevieve entered the very first Polymer Clay Central Challenge in March, 1999, and she won 3rd Place. Since then, she's entered many PCC Challenges and won 8 times in all places! Click the date links below to see her unique, winning work in the Polymer Clay Central Challenges!
We at PCC want to thank Genevieve Ciavarelli for allowing us to share her 90th birthday, and for being an inspiration to all of us that the creative spirit and a joy for life transcends all. We can only hope that if we reach the grand age of 90 that we can be as "young" as Genevieve!
Happy Birthday Genevieve
From All Your Friends at PCC!
"Thank you for the beautiful letters. You have inspired me to live longer and be more active. The CT guild gave me a gorgeous dish, decorated with hearts made from clay slices that they sent to the club president, Sharon. It was overwhelming!"Birthday Wishes From Friends:
"Dear Genevieve - I don't know you and you don't know me but you sound like a great lady. Just like my Mom. I was searching on the internet for 90th birthday party ideas for my mother and ran across your article. My mother Ruth Shultz will be 90 December 1 and she still bowls 3-4 days a week. She is an inspiration - like you. Happy Birthday"
"I wish you more years in advance!"
"Dear Genevieve, I wish you all the best of health and I believe like you that age is a matter of mathematical inexactitude in many cases. I'm almost 60 and still learning new techniques. I'm Greek and during my stay in USA I had a breast cancer opperation. Polymer clay was my therapy. I have to say that PCC is my favorite site. Have you seen my daughter's fairy wings lesson? Her name is Elisabeth Tselepis- Lemoni - have a try. I wish you again Happy Birthday!"
"Congratulations to Genevieve Ciavarelli, she is a fantastic woman and she is a good example for youngsters. I am 37 years old and I would like to live as many years as she does. Receive my best regards from Mexico City!"
"Hi Genevieve, I'm always didapointed when I get my Shrine Mont list and your name isn't on it. Jan and I still have the teapots you made us. Do you still do things with cane slices? Hope you continue to do clay for many years to come. Hugs and Kisses!"
"Hallo Genevieve, I just want to wish you a happy and healthy summer. Just read your message, 31 of May, I hope when I'm 90 years old I have the same spirit as you have with polymer clay,(52 years to go),I will remember you. Good luck, monique wijnschenk, Amsterdam, Holland. "
"You go girl!! What a great tribute to a fantastic woman!"
"Happy birthday Gen. It is always a pleasure to see your work. Best wishes gunther!"
"Happy birthday-albeit belatedly! You are a true inspiration. Thanks for sharing your story. May God bless you and grant you many more happy and productive years!"
"Hi Genevieve, I missed you (and Ethel) at the last few Shrinemonts. I still have your Alice in Wonderland pop-up puppet I won at the silent auction there. Happy belated Birthday! - Pluto"
"Wow! just reading your enormous list of birthday messages, brightened my day! You are obviously loved by many people! It's such a pleasure to see someone like you with such a zest for life & love for art. You go girl!!! Hope you had a wonderful birthday ... wishing you sunshine & rainbows always .... from Canada, Suzy
"Dear Genevieve, I'm 48 years old and have had reason in the past 2 years to question whether I wanted to get any older. Multiple tragedies, my own and others, the feeling that I was too old to start over, ill health and a divorce which left me destitute...the depression has been so heavy! You've been an inspiration and I am so grateful. Thank you and Happy Birthday!"
"Parabιns pelo seu exemplo de vida. Nσs iniciantes temos muito a nos espelhar com sua arte e talento. Um abraηo da admiradora brasileira."
"Happy Birthday Genevieve. You are amazing!"
"Happy Birthday, Genevieve! I had no idea what a wealth of years and experience you had when you took part in some of my swaps! I still treasure your pieces and am very privileged to know you!"
"Hey..this is really wonderful stuff...I had no idea how talented you were until my Dad and I finally got our e-mail addresses straightened out....Happy Birthday...your niece."
"Hi Genevieve, We have been in several swaps together. I never saw you in person although we have spoken on the computer. I have always been impressed with your work. And now to find out your age - I am speechless. You put me to shame. I wish you the very best for this year. Happy Happy Birthday."
"Happy Birthday Genevieve! I'm in awe over seeing your work. You are amazing and have an incredible talent & gift."
"Happy Birthday Genevieve! I am really inspired by your story. On those days when I think I can't fit it all in, I'll think of you and your wonderful positive outlook. All the best!!!"
"Happy birhtday, late. Love your story. My husband just brought me a pasta machine for Xmas. Just turning 50 in August. The Net is helping with the clay alot!"
"Genevieve, You are not amazing for your age...you are just amazing! You are blessed by the joy of wonderment, curiosity and creativity, and a heap of talent too. While others are looking back wistfully, you are plunging ahead to your next project. That's what makes you special."
"And now I learn yet -more- about you! Genevieve, you are a wonder. *warm smile* Happy, happy Birthday! As others have said, you always have a smile and a happiness around you that glows like sunshine. And you are so willing to share it! So you followed a life path that was 'out of our expected ordinary'. Thank you for sharing that, and reminding all of us that there is never an age that requires -sitting back and giving up-, or an age to -retire-. Hopefully with your inspiration, more of us will say, at ANY age, "I always wanted to try that,"... and do so!!! Congratulations, Genevieve. *big warm hug* Looking forward to sharing more with you, and finding out what next new thing you are going to get into!!! "
"Happy Birthday, Genevieve! You truly are an inspiration to this late bloomer! Keep claying! Peace and joy!"
"Happy birthday to you, Genevieve. I'm only 14 years behind you, hope that I make it that far!"
"Happy birthday Genevieve. I wish you a colourful life like your work.You are a inspiring person.I am a beginner but I enjoy it. Joyeux anniversaire de Genθve- Switzerland."
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I met you at Shrinemont a few years ago (have looked for you each year since) and was inspired by your energy. I smile whenever I see your work in the challenge. Have a wonderful birthday...I hope to see you again on the retreat."
"Happy Birthday Geneivieve! How on earth have I missed knowing about you? I'm so glad I do NOW. You, your attitude and your life are inspiring. And you work reflects it...colorful and playful and heartwarming! I just applied to the SCPCG..I do hope to get to a retreat and sure do hope I get the chance to meet you in person!"
"Dear Gen, you're an inspiration to our entire guild! Thanks for being such a terrific member, artist and friend. I treasure the pieces you've swapped with me. Happy, happy birthday!"
"Way to go!! I am so inspired by your story!! I wish you many more Happy Clay Days."
"Happy Birthday Genevieve, from Arlene of the SCPCG."
"Gen ~ Happy happy birthday - you are a generous soul and inspiration to us 'kids' - long may you wave! xoxox"
"WOW! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Your pc is amazing and so is your spirtit."
"Hello Genevieve: You are a wonderful artist, and I am so inspired by you. Keep creating. Happy Birthday."
"HAPPY ! HAPPY ! BIRTHDAY !! GENEVIEVE !!! I know you will enjoy this birthday as much as you do everything in your life. We belong to the CT polymer clay group together. I am envious of all the wonderful work you do with clay and now I hear about all the great 'grandma' things you do as well AND work with puppets! Well now I know we have to get together and discuss all the ideas you have about them. I'm sure I can learn something about puppets from you and maybe I can turn you onto the joys of clowning!! You know Deb and I are always eager to share our hints about clowning!!! Hears to many more years of learning and sharing!! Please teach me to enjoy life as much as you do !!! KEEP SPREADING THOSE SMILES!!!"
"Thank you for the many summers away from my siblings where you nurtured my creative soul. We would spend many hours in the screen house having tea time and making crafts. You inspired me so much and gave me the courage to pursue art in college. You instilled an appreciation of the arts in all of us and gave us the strength to accomplish our dreams. A part of you lives in each of us as you had such an influence on us growing up. I hope I always embrace life as you have. Thanks for being an inspiration and I hope I can instill all of the great things you taught me in my children. Love, Dan, Jennifer, Daniel, and Jillian."
"Wow, that's a lot of admiration to soak up all at once; too bad Gene, Sima and Frankie couldn't be here to enjoy it. I,m proud to be your brother, Bernie (aka Boomer)."
"Jenny, it has been a pleasure to be a part of your life, and your daughter Sally's for so many years. Congratulations on 90 Years. I feel privileged to be a recipient of some of your clay jewelry pieces. Looking forward to seeing you soon, I send a very Happy Birthday. Love, Meg."
"Happy Birthday Gray Nanny!"
"God Bless you Genevieve!!!! You have given me inspiration to pursue all my dreams and not let age or anything else stop me. The world needs more people like you."
"Nanny, You truly are an inspiration and an incredibly important person in my life. I have so many fond memories of growing up and having you there. I remember tea time in the summers and watching the Muppets and Carol Burnett. I remember fruit and yogurt in the mornings and playing Monopoly in the screen house. Christmas was always special and I would forego several parties on Christmas Eve to hang out with you and Pop-Pop. I love our relationship and our commonalities. You are the absolute best grandmother I could ever imagine having. I love you."
" I've always loved your challenge entries, and have been in a couple swaps with you. The energy and passion in your claywork shines through. Happy birthday and many more to come! You're quite an inspiration."
"Happy Birthday, Genevieve! I've had the pleasure of spending some time with you at Shrinemont. Here's wishing you the best of 90th Birthdays."
"Gen, I used to be in the Connecticut Group but moved away, so I don't know if you remember me. I remember you and have some of your fun lady & teapot pins. I hope you have a wonderful birthday and many many more!"
"Hi Gen! I love going to our guild meetings and seeing your smiling face. You are ALWAYS cheerful, how do you do it? Happy birthday to the dame of the Ridgefield Splinter Group of SCPCG. We love you!"
"Happy Birthday Genevieve!! :) Your art is BEAUTIFUL! Thank you for all the inspiration you provide to clayers of all ages! :)"
"Gen,Thanks for letting me share your birthday goodies. What shall we do at 91 to top this?"
"You inspire us in so many ways!From your creativity to your warm, bubbling personality and positive attitude. Wishing you the best and many more! Love, Sharon."
"I keep my "Genevieve Collection" right at my workspace, to inspire me and cheer me as much as you do! Happy 90th birthday!"
"Genevieve, You may not remember me,we met briefly at the retreat last summer,but I certainly remember you! Your spirit,your zest for life ,your creativity greatly impressed me. I won the bead strand raffle and one of the first of the 42 beads on the strand I show off to everyone is your beautiful little female figure with a babushka! I,m honored to have one of your creations! A Very Happy Birhtday to a Beautiful Lady!"
"Happy, happy birthday, Genevieve!!! We haven't met but I've heard about you - your love of clay and of people. I hope this is a wonderful, fulfilling year."
"I'll be 59 this year and I'm looking forward to being JUST LIKE YOU when I grow up! Grandkids call me the Fun/silly grandma!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you. love, Barbara!"
"Happy Birthday Genevieve, I remember meeting you and Vince in New Orleans at the l974 National Puppetry Festival.The beginning of a beautiful Friendship."
"Happy Birthday Genevieve!!! Your clay creations are lovely!!!"
"Gen, you have inspired me from day ONE! I am celebrating your birthday and your friendship in my heart. Wish I could have been there. Love, Geo."
"Your Clay work is so fine. Wonderful! Happy Birthday Dear Genevieve. Some day I pray we will meet. Huggs!"
"Isn't she beautiful. Genevieve is the sweetest grandmother you would ever want to know and introduced us to the wonderful world of puppets at very young ages. She did more puppet shows for us than you could ever imagine, and opened the creative sides to every one of her 4 grandchildrens hearts. She also has 7 great grandchildren ranging from 4 months-7years, all whom adore her wholeheartedly. We love her very much and thank God for every day we have her. Hey nan who's that crossing over my bridge? Love you, Jackie."
"Happy Birthday Genevieve! I have admired your polymer clay work for a long, long time, and I feel very lucky to know you and be in the Southern Connecticut Guild with you. You are an inspiration to all of us, and you continue to amaze me with your enthusiasm, creativity and gregarious personality! You're one amazing wild woman!"
"Happy Birthday Genevieve from Georgetown, Texas! May you be blessed with many more creative clayful years. :-)) Hugs, Karen O."
"Whhhhoooo hooooo Genevieve! Happy birthday to you. We don't know each other....but we do in a way...saw your happy smiling face in a picture, seen your gorgeous polymer clay work, I know your spirit as if it were mine...what an inspiration you are. Have a lovely day and a lovely life Ms Carp that diam! Much love!"
"Happy Birthday Genevieve!!! I started using polymer clay and I was married last year at the age of 49. You have truely inspired me. It's never too late in life to find happiness and start a new carreer."
"Happy Birthday you wonderful woman you!!! I hope I have half as much fun with life as you have!!! I also hope your coming years are as wonderful as the past 90."
"Genevieve you shine as an inspiration for all of us...I wish you a very happy birthday and many more happy and healthy ones to come...One of your Polymer Clay friends, Joy."
"Happy, happy birthday, Genevieve!! You remind me of my grandfather, who lived to be 102 and considered those in their 80's "youngsters"! We should all aspire to follow your example. You're young at heart, and it shows on your face. :) Hope this is an extra special day for you, and that you'll see many, many more healthy and happy years ahead."
"You are my inspiration, my courage, spirit, energy, mentor, strength and role model. I treasure every day I have with you and could not possibly love you more. Your daughter, Sally Sue!"
"HEEELLLOOO Genny! If it wasn't for You I would never have met your daughter Sally Sue.This year will be our 40th Anniversary together.This has resulted in our having 4 wonderful children & at this time 7 beautiful Grand Children.Your have been an inspiration in my life as well as theirs.Thank you Genny & have a gr8 day & a better tomorrow.PaddyO"
"Happy Birthday to you from Austin, Texas. May your day be filled with Joy and Fun. Your work sure does inspire all of us."
"Happy Birthday Genevieve!!! You are an inspiration, and your work is great!!! I hope someday to have as much talent as you!"
"I want to wish a you a Very Happy Birthday, Genevieve. May your 90th year be filled with much love and creativness. You are quite the inspiration. :)"
"I hope you have a beautiful and clay filled birthday. Although we have never met, I think your enthusiasm for life is wonderful. My dad, who just turned 91, is very much like you and also enjoys life fully."
"Happy Birthday Gen! You're someone I don't know and wish I did! Ill be 74 in Apr., a youngster in your book! I teach classes and love that clay!"
"Happy Birthday to my muse. Thanks for all your enthusiasm and light. You're #1 in our hearts."
"Happy Birthday Genevieve. May you get all you've ever dreamed of, and have a 'Wonder full' Day & many More."
"Hi Genevieve, I want to wish you a wonderful birthday from The Netherlands and I hope to enjoy your pieces in the challenges for many years to come! I only can dream of my grandma(92) being this active as you are!!!!!!!! hugssss"