Sunday, May 20, 2012

Week 20: My Grandmother's Wedding Dress

The 20th week of the year was this week, May 14-20th. It ended in a beautiful weekend which I spent demonstrating and representing my local art center, Pullen Art Center,  at our annual city art festival, Artsplosure.  I spent the two days sewing a book on cords using a sewing frame; which is a class I will teach in the fall. We'll each make our own sewing frame, then sew a traditional cord-bound book.
The book and the sewing frame
The rounded spine is made from a piece of hand-dyed fabric I made several years ago. It's mauve and grey coloration reminded me of a colograph print I made of roses in shades of pink, lavender, grey and black. ..Somehow the feminine aura of the book led me to a stash of photographs I had of some of my grandmother's things..her oak dresser, her hat boxes, her wedding dress. And then the book began to come together.. a conservative and conventional book with a hint of Southern blush and more than a little bit of hard steel...and that was Sadie Carver as I knew her... pink, lavendar, and gray... and hard as steel.. And so the book became My Grandmother's Wedding Dress.
Roses of lavender, pink blush, and steely grey
I inset the photograph into the front cover of the book. The sun shines through an unseen window, glistens off the polished wood floor, and spotlights the hand tatted dresser skirt, the pink hatbox, a group of tiny figurines. In the mirror can be seen the reflection of my Grandmother's wedding dress.
Grandmother's Wedding Dress
This photograph was taken many years after my Grandmother married, lived, and died. But the book reflects the southern lady I knew as much as the mirror reflects her dress. She was all pinks and lavenders with a head of blue-grey hair and a backbone of steel. Sadie Carver was a widow, and a substitute school teacher in her rural North Carolina town. She was known for her no nonsense determination to live independently, and with pride and honor. She had one son, my dad, whom she adopted in 1928 when he was four. She loved being a mother. She loved being a grandmother too.
Steely black roses, shadows, and pink silk
    Like this type of book, she was prim and proper, and fit well into her community. But the stories behind her choices over the years show a lady who did more than was expected of her, who went beyond the standard role of southern lady in her area, and that story is written on the many pages of my memory. So, this book is a diary of sorts, meant to be written in by it's future owner, who's own story will fill the pages...but hopefully with as much sass and spunk and surprises as my Grandmother Sadie Carver.