Granny Alice – Fabric Collage /Assemblage
Each piece I prepared for The Tie That Binds has a series of stories embedded within it. Granny Alice is the first fabric collage/assemblage created for this series and I found myself taking a major trip down memory lane as I worked on it. First of all, Granny Alice and I were very close. I was the eldest of four children and we shared a house with our paternal grandparents for most of my childhood. By the time I was wandering around, she was ‘retired’, completing her housework in the morning and stitching many afternoons. Many times I would sit by her as she worked on items for her ‘fair trunk’, a collection of items that would be exhibited at a number of the local agricultural fairs. After they had made their round of a number of fairs, they were often sold to a less talented neighbour.
Granny came from a family who had done well for themselves. The Ferriers of the Scotchline were among the first settlers in the Perth area. Hard workers, they were prosperous farmers and Granny grew up, the only girl amongst six brothers.
From the Perth Remembered Facebook page— Building one of the first cement silos in the area. This silo was built in 1902 at Mervyn Ferrier’s Scotch Line farm. His father, James Ferrier, gave the contract for building the silo to James and Reid, agents for Portland Cement, who brought the three workmen from St. Mary’s to erect the silo. The three men behind the horse are Jim Steele, John MacDonald and John Ferrier.
The Miller farm, originally a Dodds property, was situated between a creek and a river and consisted of rolling, often rocky fields and maple bush between strips of swamp. Granny worked hard and used the ‘egg money’ to fund household needs and her love of needlework. Her treadle sewing machine was always open and I was fascinated with it. Often she would be piecing a quilt, sometimes creating a dress to wear and once in awhile, something for me!
Later, during my teen years, after my grandparents moved to the town of Perth, I would spend weekends with them. During the last couple of years of high school I would live with my grandmother from Thursday to Sunday so that I could take a part time job in a local fabric store. Granny’s knitting basket or her crochet hook were never far away as we watched her programs on the little black and white TV after I returned in the evening.
When I gathered the items for this piece I found that I had one (of several) authentic flour bags from her ‘stash’ that never quite made it to the apron stage.I had lace and embroidery from pillowcases she had given me for my trousseau, but my most treasured items came from her sewing box, a book of needles, scissors, silk thread and floss, a bobbin from her treadle machine, a tatting shuttle and even a test sample of a quilt pattern! Can you find the stitch ripper? The silver case covers a razor blade used for reverse sewing!