Gay Ann Rogers  Needlework

Treasured Remembrance Sampler

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Treasured Remembrance Sampler Part 1 A Sentimental Journey

I always have a photo in my mind of an old-fashioned woman with a high neck lace collar and a cameo pinned to the lace collar.

Nothing could be farther from the truth than the story of a cameo my grandmother gave me long ago.

First of all, it was loose, unset, a sure sign that my grandmother had never worn it --  for that matter, I don't think she ever wore a cameo at all.

Years later she gave the cameo to me and DH had it set as a fifth wedding anniversary present.

So it is indeed a very sentimental cameo for me.

Treasured Remembrance Sampler Part 2 My Grandmother

My Grandmother was a most colorful person with a lifestyle to match.

She had three children. My father was the oldest. When my father was 6, my Aunt 4 and my uncle 6 months old, my grandfather died of a heart attack in Alaska on a long dog-sled ride and left my Grandmother a widow.

On and off throughout much of their childhood, she packed up her three children, a nursemaid and a favorite niece nearer her age than the age of her children and roamed the earth.

I have a diary my father kept when he was 9 years old of life on a ship headed to Europe.

My Grandmother had the cameo carved of herself on a trip to Italy, 'between the wars.'

Treasured Remembrance Sampler Part 3 Cameos

Sometime  about 15 years ago it occurred to me that lots of people had cameos living their lives in drawers and why didn't I make a sampler to display a cameo.

I carefully made a flap on the samplers so that I could pin on the cameo and then remove it if I wished, then pin it back in place.

If you look at the photo of the center with the cameo, you will see the flap and tucked underneath it a tiny pocket for a note about the cameo.

I made my Sampler for my Grandmother's cameo, but it isn't on the sampler; it is safely back in a drawer and I bought a substitute for the sampler. In the end I worried about traveling to teaching jobs and breaking or losing the cameo.

Treasured Remembrance Sampler Part 4 Lessons on Buying Cameos

For several years I traveled and taught this sampler and a series of other Cameo projects. It turned out that people didn't have cameos. They wanted cameos but they didn't want to  buy them, they wanted me to. So I learned about cameos and how to shop for them.

There are many cameo collectors but by and large cameos are treasures of a bygone era and on eBay they weren't in great demand, the prices often reasonable and so I learned to shop on eBay.

The very first thing I learned holds true today: ask the dealer for specifics about the condition of something. In the case of a cameo, write and ask the dealer "if you hold the cameo up to the light, are there any cracks or chips?" If indeed there are and the dealer doesn't tell you, you can return the cameo for a full refund.

Treasured Remembrance Sampler Part 6  Stitching Treasured Remembrance.

Teaching the sampler was great fun! My students shopped for a cameo, and as cameos were all different colors, we spent time in class talking about coordinating the colors of the sampler to enhance each cameo.

In those days silks were much easier to come by and I traveled with a suitcase full of options so that people could change out their kit colors to coordinate with the cameo.  Great color experiments and lessons for me too.

The sampler isn't the easiest sampler to stitch: lots of Stem Stitch and lots of Bullions and ribbon flowers that need a careful eye. Not easy but if you let go of the idea of perfection and just watch for balance, it is very freeing.

Treasured Remembrance Sampler Part 5 There are Cameos and There are Cameos

If you have an interest in Cameos, you will know that cameos vary greatly in quality. There are indeed very grand cameos: Catherine the Great collected cameos and Napoleon had a crown of them.

There are more humble sisters sold in the dime stores of the 1950's and everything inbetween.

When I bought one and fell in love with her, I kept her. I ended up of course with a small collection of cameos from  Victorian times through the 1950's. I have a little dimestore set of necklace, earrings and bracelet that is charming.

The important lesson I learned about cameos applies to our needlework as well: grand or humble, buy what you love, only what you love.


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Cameo Projects