Handkerchief Art

After my grandmother passed away in 2014, I was handed down many things. Plants, a wooden stool, suitcases, a sheepskin rug. I love having these little bits and pieces of her scattered around my home, reminding me of her on a daily basis. A few things are still finding their places in my home. Recently, two more found their new purpose!

 

Among my Oma’s things were many handkerchiefs. Back in the days before waste was normal and tossing 150 pieces of paper in the landfill every time you had a cold became completely acceptable, everyone used handkerchiefs! Now among the everyday handkerchiefs my Oma had several decorative handkerchiefs that were probably never used. Two were rather fun and festive and lucky for me, those are the two that I was given!

 

I bought some square, white IKEA picture frames and popped the handkerchiefs behind the glass. One of them was actually a little small, so I ended up taping it to a piece of white paper first. Here they are in all their glory!

 

Vintage Handkerchief Art | Land of Laurel

 

I decided to hang both of them in my bedroom on the wall parallel to the length of my bed. They both have blue, white, and red hues in their imagery so it ties in with my bedding fairly well.

 

The handkerchief on the right is pretty great; it’s all about travel! I could totally see something like this in a nursery, but since that’s like ten plus years out, let’s not even go there. For now, we’ll call it “fun” and not “child-like,” mmkay? It’s Bon Voyage theme always makes me smile. My Oma loved to travel. She visited so many places in this world, something I’ve always loved to do as well.

 

Bon Voyage Handkerchief Art | Land of Laurel

 

Shall we get a little bit closer? Yes, that is my reflection in the glass of the picture frame. Realizing now, that although the images from the airlines are multi-directional, I’ve hung this handkerchief upside-down if you take a closer look at that plane. Whatever. Let’s call it charming and pretend it’s emulating that scene from Flight,  which is my favorite movie to watch before traveling anywhere. The little Bon Voyage marches around all four sides of the handkerchief, but I framed it to just show the one so the sizing would be more similar to that of the other handkerchief (which was significantly smaller).

 

Vintage Handkerchief Art | Land of Laurel

 

The other handkerchief is equally, if not more, representative of my Oma. It’s Struwwelpeter! Every German’s favorite stories from her childhood. The book is a collection of cautionary tales for children written in 1845 about the importance of cutting your hair & nails, not playing with matches, not sucking your thumb, etc. In basically every single story the child is either killed or mutilated after not listening to his or her parents. They’re fabulous! I mean, I probably wouldn’t read them to a child, like they were originally intended, but you know, next time you need scary stories to read around a camp fire, this is perfect! You can find the illustrated German version here for an idea of the tales. Or see Dwight Schrute from The Office reference it here as well as the English translation. I love these stories! I know it’s crazy and they’re violent and awful, but I find them some what hilarious and oh so mid-1800s German!

 

Struwwelpeter Handkerchief Art | Land of Laurel

 

My favorite story, about Harriet who was told not to play with matches, is — unfortunately– not depicted. Regardless, I the handkerchief reminds me of my childhood afternoons reading with my grandmother. Here’s a closer look at the handkerchief.

 

Struwwelpeter | Land of Laurel

 

Now, before I go on, I must note that I do not condone or promote anything from these collection of tales. They were written over 150 years ago. They are violent and occasionally racist. They should not be taken at face value, but rather studied and viewed as stories and imagery of historical interest only. I have a Bachelor’s in German Studies from Tufts University and my studies into German culture lead to my fascination with these tales, as well as my personal family history. They are in no way politically correct.

 

The two handkerchiefs remind me of my ancestry and my Oma. I love the idea of framing fabric, especially as both handkerchiefs were creased from laying folded in a drawer for years and years. I could have ironed them out, but some how, I felt they added to the story of these handkerchiefs. So up they went in my bedroom. Memories on the wall, reminding me of my past, present, and future.

 

Vintage Handkerchief Art | Land of Laurel

 

Have you ever framed a piece of fabric that reminds you of someone? I thought these were just too beautiful to leave in a drawer!

 

 

 

 

 

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