My favorite textile isn’t exactly a traditional one, rather it’s a set of handkerchiefs from my grandmother. As a young kid I was lucky enough – and so were my parents! – to have my paternal grandparents look after me Monday through Friday, breakfast through dinner. This included but was not limited to: making sure I didn’t run into traffic, keeping me occupied in my Grandma’s ceramic studio with discarded clay scraps, and carting me back and forth from Montessori pre-school.
Every day before my Grandpa drove me the few miles to school my Grandma would tuck a tiny handkerchief in my pocket. I’ve always had a notoriously runny nose, and I think this was her last ditch effort at me not wiping my face on the kid next to me. Each handkerchief was tiny, pretty, and perfectly Kelly-sized. I remember that they smelled like her dresser drawer and comfort, who knows how many I must have lost along the way, dropped in hallways and parking lots.
I can’t remember when it happened, but somewhere between graduating from high school and turning 30 the handkerchiefs became mine. I don’t even think my Grandma ever used them herself, so they had always been mine really. But now they were in my possession and I had no idea what to do with them, so into a dresser drawer of my own they went.
A few weeks ago I was combing through my things, gathering up the unwanted and unused for a garage sale when I came across the stack. I no longer use handkerchiefs but had no plans of getting rid of them, so what to do? I decided that I’ll frame them. I’m still deciding whether they’ll go into their own separate square frames or collectively overlap one another like in the photos here. I don’t even think I’ll iron them, the creases have been there for years and seem like a part of the fabric now. All I know is that they’ll make me smile every time I glance their direction.