On a recent visit to my grandmother, I brought home a trunk full of boxes and bags. Many of those things went to my sisters, but a share stayed with me; including many bits and pieces of beadwork and lace representing over a hundred years in the life of a spectacular woman. No, she didn't begin collecting in the cradle; but she loved vintage pieces, and she had a good eye for spotting things in the most unlikely places.
For many years, Grandma worked with her hands. Her embroidery was not traditional; she combined media with a generous hand, seeing possibilities that others could not even imagine. In another place and time, she would have been the darling of the art set; in her time and place, she kept a lower profile, but was true to her art and filled with creative fire and energy.
Most of the beadwork I carried away has not survived the ravages of time; the thread has rotted in too many places, and too many irreplaceable beads have fallen away. So I have been harvesting the beads with the intention of using them to create new pieces that will honor the women, including my grandmother, who have handled them over the years. None of these beads are extraordinarily valuable in and of themselves; I could buy them for less than it will cost me in time to harvest them. But these beads have dreams in them; these beads are part of my genetic code; they have already seen the history of my own creativity.
How could I not reclaim them?