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Handmade Decor: Handmade with History

I’ve been sharing the pieces that make up the TV gallery wall in our livingroom over the last few weeks, and I’m wrapping things up today with a couple of handmade things that I didn’t make myself. Ray and I ran across this set of six Bicentennial embroidery pieces in a thrift store many years ago, and we couldn’t pass them up. We’re always drawn in by patriotic handmade pieces, especially pieces as beautifully done as these.
All six designs were framed in these plastic wood-look frames, and they’ve been displayed here and there around our various homes since we purchased them. I finally decided, though, that it was time for the outdated frames to go.
The backs of a few of the pieces were inscribed with the name of the embroiderer and the date that they were done. I was curious, so I Googled her name and found a Catherine Bischoffberger who was born about 1914 and lived in Kings, New York when the 1940 census was taken. I have no idea, of course, if it’s the same Catherine Bischoffberger, but it’s possible since she would have been about 61 in 1975. I love decorating our home with pieces that have a story, but I’ll admit that it saddens me sometimes to run across things like this in a thrift store. I wonder what happened to her family. What would lead them to give up a treasure like this? I can almost see her rocking in a comfortable chair, cup of tea by her side, needle in hand, hour after hour, pouring herself into these beauties. I hope that she would be glad to know how much I enjoy looking at her work each day, how much I appreciate the time and the skill put into each piece. I wish I could ask her why she made them. Did she make them purely for love of country? Were they a gift for someone? One thing, I know for sure, she probably never imagined that someone someday would be sharing pictures of them on something called a blog on this thing known as the Internet!A few of you have pointed out the vintage Chinese Checkers board in the upper left-hand corner of the wall. That was a thrift store find, as well. I like the bit of whimsy that it adds to the gallery.The last handmade piece is this sweet drawing that I commissioned Samantha to complete for me. A few months back, we ran across a restored Chevy Nomad in a parking lot, and she snapped a picture with plans to sketch it later. When I asked her to draw something for me, she went right to that picture and asked what I thought. I think it’s perfect!And, that wraps up this wall, for now. I’d love to switch out the slightly cheesy “F” picture for something different, but I’m still looking for the perfect replacement. I think it needs something else, too, on the credenza to the right of the box. Something tall and red, maybe? Like a tall candle stick or a bird cage? I’ll let you know when I run across whatever it is!If you haven’t yet, be sure to click over to yesterday’s post and enter the It’s a Snap Source Giveaway!

Love at First Sight

Have you ever walked into a vintage store, or thrift store, or yard sale, and had something demand that you take it home? I had a lovely afternoon of shopping this past Friday with my two girls, my granddaughter and my oldest daughter’s best friend. There’s this amazing little downtown area not too far from here where all of the shops are locally-owned small businesses, and there is a huge array of things to browse through . . . lots of it handmade!  It’s one of my favorite places to spend an afternoon.
Late in the day, it started to rain, so we ducked into a little strip of stores that all open into a shared indoor breezeway and wandered into Anchors and Acorns. The owner, Karen, was friendly and welcoming, and the whole shop is full of beautiful and whimsical vintage items. I happened to glance down as I walked around a table in the center of the room, and instantly fell in love. This sweet old girl looked like she was sitting there just waiting for me.

Yes, she is quite tattered. She’s got plenty of wear and tear and some random age spots. It even looks as if someone has cut pieces from her and ripped her binding off completely. One day in the past, though, she was fresh and new and loved by someone. Maybe I was a little affected by something that the kids and I had read in our history lesson earlier in the week. “Katherine of Aragon is forty-four years old. The freshness has faded from her cheeks.” I’m only a few years shy of that! I like to think that the freshness is far from fading from my cheeks, but the truth is, we all get a little “tattered” with age. That doesn’t change the fact that there’s beauty in all of us, though.
Can you just imagine the stories that she could tell of the hands that created her, of the fabrics used to piece her together, perhaps of little ones that she covered and comforted through sickness or scary dreams, maybe stories of picnics in meadows and days at the beach on the sand?
She’s long past her prime now (another wash or two might be the end of her), but she’ll do a beautiful job of decorating my sewing studio, and I hope that she’ll remind me on a regular basis that beauty is about far more than appearance. There’s an unmatched beauty that emerges with age and experience. You just have to look past what you see with your eyes.

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