Wednesday, October 23, 2013
I never knew my maternal grandmother. She died long before I was born. When I started cleaning out my mothers house, two years ago this month, I had the opportunity to get to know my grandmother through some of the things my mother saved. Tucked away in the cedar chest, basement, and attic of my mothers house were the handmade items and handwritten notes of a kindred spirit.
My own mother never particularly liked to cook, or sew, and if she did embroidery or crochet at all, it was when she was a little girl. She owned a sewing machine, and when I was a child she did make some clothing, but as an older adult I don't remember her sewing much of anything at all. Mom knits a little, but I wouldn't say she's loves it.
It came as a great surprise to find out that my grandmother did do hand work, and was as compulsive about scribbling recipes down on little sheets of paper as I am. In fact, her scribbled recipes on envelopes, inside the cover of books, on news clippings, or whatever piece of paper was available at the time, remind me a lot of myself. Grandma apparently listened to cooking programs on the radio, and took down the recipes as they were dictated.
Inside the treasure trove of items my mother kept are beautiful, but utilitarian, hand embroidered aprons, hand made bed covers that were sewn or crocheted (and must have taken years to finish), quilts, hand sewn doll clothes, baby dresses, dresser scarves, and many other examples too numerous to list. Sadly, years of being stored in trunks in the basement, or boxes in the attic, left most of these items in deplorable condition. Stains and mildew covered almost every item I brought back to my house. The smell alone would have deterred most people from keeping any of the textiles.
I've never had any classes in textile conservation, but I felt very strongly that I needed to try to save some of these beautiful things my grandmother made. I set out on a journey that took two years, and over that time I got to know a little about this woman whom I never met.
I'll share the journey with you.......