I don't think of myself as a packrat, but I have a few things that I've held onto through a number of moves and a house fire, things that have gone from being "new" to being "vintage" and from being "old" to being "antique". The beaded butterfly on black silk is close to a hundred years old now, so I guess it's entering the realm of "antique". It belonged to my late father-in-law's mother, Ida Zipkin, known to my husband and me as "Bubbe". There are four beaded butterflies on a strip of black silk that must have been attached to a dress. When I was younger, I thought it must have been part of a flapper's dress, but now I wonder if it might have been worn for mourning. You know, with the butterfly being a symbol of the soul and transformation and all.
Bubbe came to the US from Odessa as a teenager in the first quarter of the 20th century. Whether that dress was part of her belongings or she acquired it here, I just don't know. Maybe she just had that piece of silk trim and never actually wore it on a dress. There's no one left of her generation - or of my father-in-law's for that matter - to ask. His family had been in the dress business and when I started making my own clothes in the late sixties, he gave me this remnant because he knew I would appreciate and treasure it. And so I have.
I used one butterfly on an Altoid box shrine to celebrate my becoming a crone, but it was also to celebrate Bubbe, who had died a few years before in Miami Beach at the age of 94.
I wanted to use another of the butterflies to make an amulet pouch. It's sewn to a piece of backing fabric so there is minimal stress on the very fragile silk, but I think that it's too delicate to consider seliing. And maybe too personal as well.
The weight of the hanging elements is all on the copper cross piece and the backing fabric. I padded it lightly and enclosed a wrapped crystal point from my ancestor altar. There's also a little pocket on the back to hold something tiny.
I like the contrast of the lime green beads and embroidery thread with the black silk and beads. Death and rebirth. It feels right.