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PYROGRAPHY

While I impatiently wait for the weather to clear, I thought I'd throw a little something at you that you probably don't read up on every day. Pyrography! A most vital subject that everyone should know a little about 🙂 Apparently it was a really popular craft, way back in the day, for young ladies to learn. Kind of like embroidery samplers, sewing, crocheting, tatting, knitting, etc. It involves using a wood burning instrument and burning designs onto wooden furniture pieces, boxes, and the like.

Several times on this blog I have mentioned furniture I have inherited that was originally owned by my Great Grandmother. I'm going to jump on the genealogy bandwagon again and tell you yet another story about some pieces that came from (and, in this case, were made by) her. Her parents had 8 children, and like most pioneers the family lived hard lives. They lived in and around Virginia City, MT, and other small towns in the near vicinity. Both did a multitude of jobs to try and make ends meet and keep their children fed. At one time, the family kept 40 (FORTY!) boarders at their place. This was when gold mining was booming in the area. When the children were smaller, my Great Great Grandfather employed a Chinese man to help my Great Great Grandmother cook for all these folks they boarded, and also an American Indian woman everyone called Indian Mattie to help with the massive amounts of laundry that had to be kept up (this was pre-wash machine days; tub and wash board, heat the water on a fire times). As the children got older, they were put to work helping either their mother or father with many different tasks. By the time my Great Grandmother was 13 years old, she did a large share of the cooking for their many boarders. Learning at that young age turned her into a phenomenal cook for the rest of her life. Most girls of that day (around the turn of the century) only attended school until about the 8th grade. I don't know how my GtGtGrandparents achieved it, and my 96 1/3 year old Grandmother can't remember all the details of the story, but somehow they were able to send my GtGrndmthr to a boarding school for girls. Actually, she attended 2 schools, St. Peter's Catholic School in Anaconda, and St. Vincent's Academy in Helena. Pyrography was one of the skills she learned.

They probably started with smaller projects like this box she did. But look at the detail!

Even on the sides, every bit was covered in detail. That would have taken a lot of concentration for a seventh or eighth grade child to achieve.

As their skill level progressed, so did the size of their projects.

 

 

I think this level of detail is amazing, especially when you think she was only twelve-ish.

This table was also one of her projects; I'm not sure what caused the blackened area damage, but it is old, and I'm sure has been thru a lot over the years.

 

 

Apparently, not only girls learned the skill. This small table was done by my Great Uncle when he was a boy.

He was an Uncle by marriage (married to my Grandmother's sister), so we're not too sure about his childhood history, where he would have learned this craft.

 

And this small piece of art I found at an antique/junk store in Big Timber. I can't control myself when it comes to anything to do with antique sheep art of any kind. I have a lot of prints and paintings of sheep, lots of Putz, ceramic, and china sheep. Which reminds me, it's about time to put the sheep collection into the decorating rotation! I like to see lambies at Easter time……sure says springtime to me.

 

 

I would like to know the story behind this little plaque. I wonder if some astute little student worked long and hard on this project at her (or his) boarding school far away from her parents, if she was a native Montanan like my GtGrandmother, just what the long story must be before it got to my home. That's why I cherish antiques; whether they are from my family and I know their story, or it's a piece I've found and it's story is a mystery, I think they deserve a safe haven and place of honor because they've made it thru all the bumps and dings time dishes out.

TTFN

Teresa

 

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