I never knew my grandmother Amanda. She passed on when my father was a youth. I like to think she was a vibrant part of the Edwardian Era ...a glorious Gibson girl, next door variety. What little I do know of her is that she was a widowed single mother, raising her four young children in difficult times. She was a teacher, and liked to write poetry. She had a love of fine things, yet appreciated the simple life that escaping to the mountains and nature made possible.
Life was hard back in the early 1900's. People still pumped water from wells and used outhouses. Lighting in the home was often from kerosene lamps that cast a soft glow. Cooking was done on wood-fire iron stoves that heated a tank of water for washing and cleaning, and provided heat for the home in winter. Amanda met it all head-on valiantly and gracefully. Over the years, I have cherished two things that belonged to her: her wedding dress, and an old fine-silver letter opener with a beautiful mother-of-pearl blade. The dress is pale gray silk chiffon with beautiful needle lace trim at the neck and sleeves. It appears too have been home-sewn by a fairly skilled seamstress. Sadly, it is deteriorating with stains and holes sprinkled throughout because of years of abuse in a wooden chest alongside mouse nests before I rescued it. The letter opener had not fared well either. It was broken at the blade/handle join long before I ever laid eyes on it. Even so, someone must have seen the beauty in it, choosing to save it rather than throw it out.
Over time, and especially the past year, I have been holding ideas for creating a number of remembrances ...clothing and jewelry, that build in my own mind what Amanda might have been like. This is the first in a series of remembrances, creations that honor my grandmother. The pendant was cut from the end of the old letter opener she once used. I added silver beads to an old chain, and pearl and rhinestone dangles from the bell. Somewhere in the mix I added an antique button and tied in a tiny scrap of the wedding gown. I plan to create several more chains with faceted crystals beads, ribbon, and other beautiful things added to layer with this, even though it can certainly be worn alone.