Making A Painted Hankie Banner At The Mansion

Jenn looked at the embroidery on the hankie in front of her.  “It’s so pretty,” she said, “I almost don’t want to paint on it.”

Some of the hankies have machine-embroidered designs on them, but many are hand-embroidered or have tatting on them.

That’s when I told everyone how people have been sending me hankies for years and how I’ve figured out how to use them.  “People write to me and tell me they’ve been holding onto the hankies, which belonged to their mother or grandmother for years but don’t know what to do with them.  They don’t want to throw them away, but for many reasons can’t keep them anymore either.”

“We’re using these hankies that would otherwise be sitting in a box in the back of someone’s drawer, only to one day be thrown in the garbage.”

Then I told them about Betty a woman I met in an Iowa Retirement home when Jon was on book tour.

It was the winter of 1935 and so cold it was hard to heat the two-room farmhouse Betty lived in with her family.  She was one of six children and she said her mother taught the three oldest tatting to keep them from driving her crazy.    She was 94 when I met her and still tatting around the edges of hankies and also making earrings and greeting cards using tatting.

I did a lot of planning for today’s class at The Mansion.   But part of being creative is being able to adjust those plans to make things work.

My idea was that each person would paint five hankies then I would string them together so each person would have their own banner.  Jenn was the only person to paint five hankies.  But that doesn’t mean we didn’t have a successful class.

Things happened that I didn’t expect.

One woman didn’t want to paint at all so she continued the coloring she was doing when I got there.  Claudia got into making small repeated designs using the same colors of the tatting on the edge of one of her hankies.  And a couple of the Mansion workers joined in painting hankies while they helped some of the people who live there with theirs.

For the first time, Art worked with confidence.  He had a book about the history of Ford cars and painted three cars using the book as a reference.

In the past, classes Art was reluctant to even put a pencil to paper, but today he didn’t want to leave when the class was over and it was time for lunch.

I got to know Art a little better too.  He has some memory loss but was animated when talking about cars.  He told me how his brother used to race cars and he would go with him on the weekends to watch.   Art worked on cars and has owned many Fords.   When I told him my first car was a 1967 Ford Falcon, his face lit up.  He knew just what car I was talking about.

From now on I’ll be sure to somehow include cars for Art in whatever project I bring to my class.

Art painting a car

Jon and Zinnia came to my class too.

Zinnia made the rounds and Jon took pictures and talked to everyone.  We just got back from his doctor’s appointment and saw his foot for the first time since his surgery.  It was a relief to see how well Jon’s foot is healing.

Going to The Mansion right after that felt like it was marking the passage from one part of Jon’s surgery to another.  As if we are now on the healing end of things.  Being at The Mansion together, around the people who we know so well there,  felt like us coming back to a part of our lives that is important to us.

All the painted hankies, from the people who live at the mansion and the people who work there.

We have 22 hankies total.  So instead of making separate banners for each person, I’ll make two big banners that Paryese, the Activities Director, can hang in the great room for one of their upcoming events.

I also saved the papers that were under the hankies which the paint from the hankies bled through on. I’m not sure what we’ll do with those yet,  but we’ll figure something out.

4 thoughts on “Making A Painted Hankie Banner At The Mansion

  1. My first car was a Ford Falcon too. I’m not what year was but it was close to that age. We would stall. So whoever was in the car would get out and push to start it. Fun times.

    1. Ha! I had to put a screwdriver in the carburetor sometimes to get it started. But I knew someone who had a car we had to push to start. 🙂

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