Thursday, September 9, 2010

the letter





as told to me
by Ella Collins...

mother was a private person.
she was a devoted mother and a care taker for her family.
my father died tragically when I was a baby, and mother had never remarried.
she was content she said, to live a quiet life...
but... she was passionate about lace.
and had learned to make it in Europe.
if it could be made,
she could make it and people wrote her asking for yards
of the finest tatting and battenburg...

she died recently and I had to clear her estate.
if you have done this you undoubtedly know that it is a daunting
task, not simply in letting go of the odds and ends, but in the memories that come
back to you and steal away the moments that begin to turn from days to weeks...

I had almost finished, the house was cleared except for Mamas' desk, which I had decided to keep, since I remember her sitting there every morning with her tea, greeting me when I awoke.
the bottom drawer was locked.
suddenly I remembered that I had found a tiny key in her jewel box
and I used it to open the drawer. I remembered that she had kept a keepsake box
locked in the desk, but as a girl, I had never questioned why she had kept it locked.




the front of the box was papered with Italian music papers and an old Italian frame
that held a tiny envelope
and a small antique clipping
that read...

Stay Near
it makes us sad
to sit alone
and have no one
to cheer us.

But we suppose
we never can
have those we love
stay near us







the inside was lined with old wallpaper and had a charming picture of a young woman reading a letter.
the box itself was filled with fabric and paper "pages" that she had fashioned into
keepsake pages, each one having a front and back page...
I recognized my grandparents...





though I did not know them, I had heard from Mama and Aunt Hattie that they were quite strict and they had made sure that the daughters had a proper upbringing and
were made to mind.





"Of many Arts, one surpasses all. For the maiden seated at her work flashes the smooth balls and thousand threads into the circle, ... and from this, her amusement, makes as much profit as a man earns by the sweat of his brow, and no maiden ever complains, at even, of the length of the day. The issue is a fine web, which feeds the pride of the whole globe; which surrounds with its fine border cloaks and tuckers, and shows grandly round the throats and hands of Kings." - Jacob Van Eyck, 1651.


Hattie was the baby.
Mama adored Hattie... I was not surprised to find her wedding photo
stitched to a piece of fabric and fashioned like an envelope containing the lace that Mama made for her wedding. I know she tatted over ten yards for her dress...
she was a loving mother and sister...



a happy surprise was her autograph
book that she had in grade school...




filled with notes from people that I did not know...



and photos of people that I did not know...




but the laces I remembered...



I found an old calling card from a friend that I vaguely remember Mama
speaking about and I think she had been a friend that went with her on the grand tour..



perhaps this picture was of her friend...





on the back sewed to the "page" was a
beautiful old Italian postcard of a Palazzo...






and as I was putting the keepsake box away...
I noticed that there was a paper tucked behind the
picture..






the letter



so I went to the nursing home to find out if Hattie
remembered...





Hattie had been waiting for me to find it because Mama
had asked her not to tell. she had hoped I would not sell the desk..
and yes, my Mother, Emma had met a young man in Italy
while she was studying lace making
and Grandpa had sent Grandmother to fetch
his wayward daughter back.
it seems
he had planned for her marriage
and it was not to an Italian.


it was in that moment
that I realized I had never known my
mother.




well... gentle readers..
now you know why the swap with Kim
of Wandering Heart Studio took me so LONG!
I have been hand sewing for about a year now and as I did,
the story took shape..
I was feeling as though Ella and Emma Collins were real!!

I hope Kim loves it and I cannot wait to see what
she creates with this and where she takes the story!

my ingredients:
antique papers, lace, fabric, wall paper, cigar boxes, post cards, calling cards, victorian ephemera, threads, acrylic paint, Omni Gel, walnut ink, Pellon WunderUnder, transfers on canvas and fabric, E6000, hand dyed fabrics and papers using ranger inks and natural dyes.


as always,
grazie for stopping by..
I so appreciate your support!


55 comments:

cardinal arts said...

what a beautiful story.......and beautiful art
thank you

dosfishes said...

So marvelous, the story and the art, wow. xox Corrine

Nathalie Thompson said...

Words escape me. Wow. I was completely drawn in. :)

Cynthia Schelzig,Cynnie said...

What an enthralling project...so beautiful. I kept reading like it was a novel.

bad penny said...

Me too I rerad this very quietly. Beautiful, absolutley beautiful.
You did know your Mother... mine has secrets she's hinted at in her old age but I'd rather not know.
My ( spinster ) Great Aunt left dance cards, calling cards & love letters in her writing case which I now own. I'm happy to think she had loves though she never maried.

What a wonderful post thank you

lynne h said...

my gosh, cat, *anyone* would love this! it's magical, it's beautiful, it's touching...

wow...

xo

Diane Kelsey said...

A wonderful story. We can know someone really well, without knowing everything. Love and cherish the keepsake and all your memories old and new.

WrightStuff said...

I so loved this romantic tale. Have you seen the movie Letters to Juliet? You would love it!

DymphieM said...

you are a wonderful story teller and a wonderful artist.
xo Dymphie

layers said...

wow- what a treasure trove of ephemera and memories you found and put together--to connect to your mother is such a way is wonderful and thank you for sharing.

Kim Palmer said...

What an absolutely fabulous post to awake to this morning Cat! I love it! I already have some things I have made put away for this one and they will fit in perfectly! Oh heavenly days of bliss amid lace and papers coming our way! I have yours packaged and ready to send next week, it's a long weekend holiday here! I'm sooo excited I can't wait for it to arrive and then I can drool in person. (I promise not to leave water marks too, LOL!)I have ideas for the story brewing away too. What fun! Your work is gorgeous as always. Love all the wee details, the letter, the old pics which are wonderfully done of course especially the wedding one, and the lace! Truly Cat a fabulous treasure box that I cannot wait to add to!

Lisa said...

Cat,
What an absolute delight..I want to hear and see more! You are such a gifted and talented writer and artist, I believed as well!

lilylovekin said...

What a beautiful gift you have created both in the art work and the story. The laces and images work so well with the story-i'm sure it is even more beautiful in real life.

Dianne said...

Beautiful....

Manon Doyle said...

Your story brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing such beautiful memories.

Svetlana said...

Moving story, Caterina. Isn’t it strange feeling to discover things about people we love and believe we knew all about them? I have made recently book for my mother and discovered so many things about her past that I didn’t know all these years. The book is stunning and you will be looking into it for the rest of your life.
Love,
Svetlana

NuminosityBeads said...

That's amazing! I wish I was the swap Kim, hehe
I admire your ability to put together cohesive projects such as this and your doll project. You really take it to the next level. So inspiring!
I love the colorful butterfly page the most.

I was so frustrated with my dial-up at home when I could only read the text which really had me going I admit. So happy to be able to see the images now and to be able to comment. I actually made a trip to town just so that I could see it and comment on this!
xoxo Kim

Gaby Bee said...

Caterina that's spectacular and belongs in a magazine! You are such a talented writer and one of the most creative artists around! I like how you combined the images with the wonderful lace. It's perfectly balanced with all your elements and so textural that my hands want to touch every detail! Just perfect!

Gaby xo

LOVE STITCHING RED said...

A beautiful story, I felt quite choked. I adore the stitched photos and pages. Have a lovely weekend Caterina xo

ArtPropelled said...

I've enjoyed this post so much and will read it again. The ending was wonderful!

Yvonne said...

The story and photos are wonderful, so full of life and feeling! Loved every word and stitch!

Marie said...

Love the narrative wrapped up in the beautiful art. (My favorite is the wedding picture piece).
This is an obviously empassioned project. Bravo! Am looking forward to Kim's response and updating on her blog.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I have seen a lot of drop dead gorgeous art you have created, but this is the most beautiful body of work I have ever seen. I can see why it took so long to make it. The story and photos are simply divine and this gets a two thumbs and four paws up from me!

deannawelch said...

Haven't been to blogland in a long time. I adore what you have done with this gift! Your imagination is so inspiring! She will treasure this gift and the amazing story that accompanies it. See you Sat.
Love you, Dee

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I forgot to mention, I am on my way to visit Kim's blog. Thanks for the link.

Margaret said...

Oh my Cat, this is wonderful, breath taking! I was enthralled! precious absolutely precious Mx

~*~Patty Szymkowicz said...

what a fantastic gift

must be hard to part with eventho Kim is a special lady and will appreciate it

your writing AND your pages are amazing Cat
thank you so much for sharing this with us ...
oxo

Renee Howell said...

from the heart
love
to the heart

audrey said...

Magical ~ the words and the art.
♥ audrey

Sharmon Davidson said...

Wow, Cat, this is absolutely astonishing! I thought it was a true story at first; so beautiful and touching. I can see why it took so long to make, but it was totally worth it! Kim is so lucky!

druga szesnaƛcie said...

I'm speechless.
yes, you made me believe it too.
this should be made into a book. a beautifully illustrated book I would look at every single day.
thank you for making my day.
more. please please create more stories like that for us...

Seth said...

What an incredible story and a work of art that matches in terms of its beauty. I was enthralled by your words and kept going back and forth as to whether this was real or not. You have created something very special here!

Patti said...

are you sure that story is fiction?? what a compelling piece and gorgeous art (as always:) I was thinking about you earlier, before you left a comment - had no idea that PA was in your life. I'm glad it hasn't slowed you down!

Gayle...... that,s me said...

So,so BEAUTIFUL. Thank you for sharing,and inspiring with this amazing 'production'.

Riki Schumacher said...

Awww, c'mon, isn't this real?? I loved the story! Great job, hugs, Riki

alteredbits said...

omg, lady, this is amazing beyond words. this is phenominal! as i ready (hanging on every word), i was thinking "i hope this is a true story OR her project with miss kim" over, and over. you are so brilliant and so talented! this is just amazing, amazing stuff! what a wonderful and true-sounding story. i'm going to pretend it is -- i just LOVE this! would love to do a book with you one day too -- or some sort of swap or collab if you ever have time and are up for it.

Evangeline said...

This was just enchanting! I love the story you have woven with your art.

Paula McNamee said...

Thanks for sharing your wonderful story and book.

Laura said...

fantastic...so completely engaging. Perhaps my favorite of all your posts Cat. You are quite a story teller...(well I knew that from your art, but with your words too!)

In the Light of the Moon said...

I'm not really sure HOW to feel..sad,its not real..happy,I had the chance to read it as if it was real....all I know is I DO feel one thing and that is that I feel MOVED,inside my heart.Art with this much thought..is no longer art..but love.Beautiful Cat

Harnett-Hargrove said...

Hook, line, and sinkered!!! -J

Sharne's Bit 'n' Bobs said...

A lovely story and a trully beautiful book.

peggy aplSEEDS said...

amazingly beautiful! I'm so glad you visited me and I found your blog!

Sirocco9932 said...

Beautiful and touching.

Seanora

Gayle...... that,s me said...

Hi, thanks for leaving lovely comments on my blog,it is so appreciated,and the work that you do is just so beautiful and inspiring. (I have stalked your profile) and noticed that one of your fave movies was the Shipping News, I so loved the book and thought what a great movie it would be but had no idea they had made one,so must track it down.xx

Linda said...

That was wonderful. I thought it was true. I loved it!!!!!!!!!!!

Les Cotrions said...

What a sweet post! You found so precious memories of your mother and family! Your story moved me!
Have a nice week end!
Vale

Roses, Lace and Brocante said...

You are indeed a weaver of magic dear Cat.
Poor Giovanni....... and where will Kim take us?

Lien said...

When I was reading your post I thought: what a treasure to find such a box! But at the end I realised I found the treasure myself by finding your art! Thanx!

Anna Rosa Designs said...

Oooh, You've pulled at my heart strings with this post!
I love what you've done with your Mama's pieces.
I'm sure she'd be proud of you!
Hugs,
Anna

Linda said...

What a treat - a brilliant post Cat; thank you. X

Lucky Dip Lisa said...

This is breath-takingly fantastic! Such sweet, sad, wise,warm words. A really journey of discovery to follow and fabulous stitching! Lucky kim!

neva gagliano said...

i can not even begin to imagine the process....a year! and stitching away. i am stunned to see the work and thoughts that went into both of these...

carole brungar said...

What a great story teller you are and an exciting project. I would love to undertake something like this, it has loads of appeal.
I think you weaved a fantastic story and piece of art. Congratulations!

Jo Murray said...

An extraordinarily beautiful piece.