When you make something for a loved one with the intent that it become a keepsake, it is a good idea to provide some documentation with it. Quilters, for example, often write or stitch the creator’s name, the date the quilt was finished and/or given, the name of the recipient, and sometimes the occasion.
Artists sometimes include this documentation on the back of their work or in the corner. If you inherit a family heirloom that does not include documentation, interview whomever you can to provide a narrative for the provenance of the item. This way, generations to come will enjoy the insight that such information gives.
In an effort to follow the excellent example of my grandmother and in an effort to repent for my lack of attention given to documenting items I’ve received and items I’ve given, I have been busy with a project. Using all the pictures I’ve taken in the past of my handiwork and taking a few more, I have narrated them with the most complete information I could. Here is what the document looks like:
During the Society of Tennessee Archivists 2013 conference, I attended a presentation by Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) archivist Lori Lockhart entitled: “Pieces of the Past: What quilts can tell us about our ancestors.” Lori’s presentation included quilts in her own collection and their history and documentation, but it also included quilts from the holdings of the TSLA and what great lengths the staff must go through to provide histories for the textiles in their care that have NOT been well documented. It put the fear of you-know-what in me. So here is my effort and ‘catching up!’
I have omitted a few last names and other personal details just for the purposes of this blog, but you get the idea. Include a photograph accompanied by a creation or gifting date, the recipient’s name, the occasion, and in my case, the stories behind the fabrics I have chosen.
When I sew a gift for someone, I always tell them what the fabrics were used for, why I chose them, and any significance to their meaning, but now those things are written down. People forget and I won’t always be around to re-tell the stories.
This last pillow case, which was made and given to my daughter to take with her on her church mission to South Korea in June of 2012 is coming home in 5 days when Anna returns. It’s perfectly okay if it has been worn out in sleeping, washing, kneeling, or crying because that is what it was made for and I have a picture of it. Besides, I will get to hug the actual owner in person!