A year ago I never could have imagined all that was to be discovered on this blogging journey. Though there is much progress to be made in the days ahead, I’m a bit amazed at the things I’ve learned already like how to deal with technology glitches, how to take and edit better photos and how even our homes can tell our story, and it’s one worth being told. But my favorite thing by far has been the amazing people I’ve met, the encouragement I’ve received and friendships I’ve made. It has been such an unexpected and beautiful perk!
One such encourager has been JC from The Uncommon Pearl , a blog about living life beautifully. She was one of the first readers, subscribers and commenters that I am not related to or didn’t grow up with. And like I said, she doesn’t just comment, she does so in such an encouraging and thoughtful way! Like a post I wrote about fall decorating last October. As I was decorating that day I was suddenly convicted that instead of seeing the undone in my home, I needed to focus on the meaning and stories behind so many family items that have been passed down and around for years. I closed that post with this question, “What treasures do you have in your home that tell your story and make you smile?” JC responded, just as I had asked, with some pictures and the most amazing story about her great-Grandfather and his skilled craftsmanship. As I read her response I knew immediately that I wanted her to share her story with y’all too. She has graciously agreed to join us today to tell her story and share the intricate beauty of some of the heirloom decor in her home. So join me in welcoming JC today to share part of her story …
One day melds into another sometimes, doesn’t it? Sometimes we forget to look around our home, take a breath, and enjoy the history weaved into the fabric of our lives. I’m sure if we look around there are treasures that tell a story of family. Our story.
When I commented on Beth’s post, What if Fall Décor is Actually About my Own Vision? I never dreamed she would ask me to guest post, but here I am! Thanks Beth for letting me share a little bit of my story, which includes a long ago vision, brought to life in furniture, by my Great Grandfather.
He was a short statured Italian man with a full wiry mustache, fedora hat, and hands that had the marks of hard labor.
Though I had never met my Great Grandfather, he has met me through the pieces he lovingly created, passed on throughout the generations.
It’s like he carved life right into them. As the story goes, when my Great Grandfather was a young boy he left the harbors of Naples, Italy for adventure to become a cabin boy on ships traveling the world. One particular captain appreciated his attitude and work ethic so much that he encouraged him to become a carpenter’s apprentice.
I wonder if he knew the skills he was learning would be used to build treasured gifts for his future family?
Like this picture below of the top of their kitchen table, which would later be shortened to become a drop-leaf end table.
It’s unclear how long he spent learning the craft, but he eventually became the ship’s carpenter and sail maker. Developing amazing woodworking skills, he created so many beautiful pieces (well over 50) that grace his extended family’s homes to this day!
Each one uniquely different, yet carved with his signature style.
He later immigrated to America and continued his love of woodworking to create dressers, tables, chairs, picture frames, vases, decorative dainty cups… each one with its saucers, and trinket boxes.
What’s amazing is that he found wood from discarded, old ships and crates from all over the world to create each one of his masterpieces. Talk about repurposing! He would painstakingly secure all the intricate pieces using a homemade glue concoction of boiled fish oil to make a sticky substance. Nothing is nailed!
Looking at his box of simple tools tells the story of this man’s skill and patience!
I love several little nuances like the apparent mistakes and fixes in design.
Oh, the stories these pieces tell without words!
He reminds me that things don’t need to be perfect to be beautiful.
It’s what makes the pieces so realistic and genuine. They show me a picture of this man’s beautiful heart of perseverance and passionate creativity.
Like this frame that isn’t quite square, holding my parent’s wedding picture….
Or the apparent circle that wasn’t quite lined up where he had planned….
There’s lineage through pictures too.
Like this picture of me as a baby with my brothers. It was taken at my aunt’s home and in the background is my Great Grandfather’s china cabinet, the same one I have today in my home.
This small table top chest holds more pictures, many of our family with his creations throughout the years.
It’s unknown what happened to some of the earlier pieces he created. He may have left some in Italy, but, if these American pieces are any indication, I’m sure they are still telling a story in a home 160 years later!
Like Beth said, “What treasures do you have in your home that tell your story and make you smile?”
Maybe there’s something you will create, that will become a treasure to future generations!
Thank you so very much for sharing your story with us today, JC! We hope it has inspired you to see your own story around you, to create a story for generations to come and to treasure the process in all of it. You can look forward to more posts in the coming months exploring this idea of decorating with our story. In the meantime, tell us what makes you smile in your home?