There is something profoundly impacting about touching an object that was once held by someone you only know through stories and documentation.
Shortly after my paternal grandfather passed away in June of 2000, my grandmother (otherwise known as Nanny) gave me an Earle family heirloom as a birthday gift; a hand-painted plate. Nanny told me she was given the plate by my grandpa's Aunt Susie Earle-Gilvey. It is a plate that Aunt Susie brought with her on her immigration from Newfoundland to New York in about 1900. The plate, we believe, was hand-painted by my great-great grandmother, Sarah Samms-Earle-Bromley.
As a painter myself with a deep interest in family history I think it was a very appropriate gift. I am not sure if great-great grandma Earle considered herself an artist but hand-painting plates was a popular hobby for women of her time.
This is not the only hand-painted Earle family heirloom that Nanny has given to me. Several birthdays later, Nanny gave me this canister which was painted by my great grandmother, Ethel Mae Losee-Earle.
The next woman in this chain of Earle grandmothers would indeed be Nanny. Now she doesn't paint but she does handcraft afghans and shawls of which I own a few.
God willing, I will be able to care for and maintain these artifacts long enough to hand them down to the next keeper of the Earle family crafts.