February 13, 2013 by thepolishedbutton
I popped over to my Dad’s yesterday, and in between being fed home made cornish pasties and making pancakes with the toddler, Dad remembered he had a box of bits and pieces to add to my haberdashery (once I had explained what haberdashery meant…he can configure a life saving piece of medical equipment, but crafting is a little lost on my old man!)
He dug out a tub that had come from my Great Aunt Kitty’s house and, as always, it wings it’s way to me. (sometimes via his friend Val, who loves these little hoards as much as I do.)
We had a rummage through it at the kitchen table, and the toddler was particularly keen on a few bits of costume jewellery, and proceeded to stomp around the house declaring herself ‘luffleee’… there were lots of bits of broken jewellery, packets of beads and some glitter, you know the sort of thing.
Having snuck in a hour or so to take some pictures this afternoon, look at some of the beauties that were in that unassuming box…
`Green glass flower beads – probably 30’s or 40’s.
Green wooden flower shaped beads…
It did get me thinking about the sheer amount of beads and sparklies I have at home that need a good sort out, and now being as good a time as any, I have added it to the list of things to put in my etsy shop. So keep an eye out if these are your thing.
As I went through my boxes of beads, I realised how much of my work room is thanks to my Auntie Kitty. Sadly, she passed away over 3 years ago now, although when my time comes, I hope I go the same way – peacefully and tucked up in bed, after a day out for a family lunch, at the ripe old age of 89. She would have been very pleased about that too.
She was my Dad’s Aunt, and from the ‘posh’ side of the family. Very well spoken, and always immaculately turned out, she was always telling me off for wearing too much black (I was 16…) and I think was rather pleased when I showed a growing interest in sewing and the theatre. I still remember shyly taking my costume portfolio over to show her once, and she was delighted to talk about sewing and fabrics, as she was a keen stitcher and knitter – regularly making things to donate to the local hospice or children’s charity. Every now and again she would hand me little boxes or bags, where she had had a ‘tidy’ and I can’t tell you how much I loved receiving these treasures – from sparkly glass brooches to handmade clothes from the 60’s, she was seriously stylish lady in her time, and certainly had some stories. As a young woman, she travelled the world with her husband and had collected dolls from all the countries she visited. How thrilled my sister and I were to be given these, and although we tried our best to look after them, inevitable we loved playing with them so they got lost and damaged along the way.
I still have this lovely lady though – she’s made from stuffed cotton on a wooden base, with a beautiful blue silk sari ,with gold braiding and beads. It has been proudly displayed in every house I’ve lived in, and despite many house moves, is still just about standing. The silk disintergrates when you so much as breathe on it, but you can still see the original craftsmanship, and she must be at least 70 years old.
After Auntie Kitty died, I went over to help my Dad clear things out before the house was sold. This was such a strange thing to do (I was lucky to have reached my 30’s without having to do this task as yet) as her pristine house held so many memories – it was a little time capsule really, with no single item (except the essentials) being made past 1975. Everything was of the highest quality, from the gold velvet sofa suite to the G-plan side unit with fully stocked silverware cabinet. This was the lady who wheeled out the hostess trolley for a cup of tea and a digestive – rituals I loved when we visited.
As we emptied wardrobes and drawers, her whole life laid out before us, and I realised how little I knew her. From the evening gloves, pearls and opera glasses belonging to the elegant socialite, to the cabinets stuffed full of every kind of sewing paraphenalia you can image – all used to help those less fortunate or raise money for thoughtful causes – this was a woman with a passion for life and living. I don’t think she would have minded me keeping a few things as reminders of her – these hat boxes have the original labels on from the high end department stores she bought her cocktail hats from. Don’t they look so pretty?
Inside one I have a card that was found on her bedside cabinet the day after she died. It was the day after boxing day and we had yet to see her for Christmas. She had written a christmas card and included £5 for everyone one of her great-nieces and nephews, and laid them out ready to hand out when she saw us at the annual family gathering. I am really pleased that these were still passed on to us, and I have it tucked away safely in the hat box that still smells faintly of talc.
I wish I could have taken every single item relating to sewing and knitting, but she had a whole room dedicated to it, and we just didn’t have the space. I did however end up being given all the buttons she had collected over the years, so I guess you can say that was the very beginning of The Polished Button. I hope Auntie Kitty would be proud of what I am doing and how I am using her treasured items – I was lucky enough to have her at my wedding only 3 months before she died, and I know she approved of my handmade wedding dress and 1930’s theme.
My only sadness is that she will never get to meet my daughter – a spirited, funny and fascinating girl – I think she may have enjoyed her company.