Sunday, December 13, 2015

Hand-made cards, & rug

This morning I happened upon a webpage showing Christmas cards designed and hand-printed in 1930 by Sadie May Morse of Marblehead, MA. Three of her card designs were reproduced 70 years later by owners of a bookstore in Great Britain.

Memories of homemade cards now flood my brain. My father was adept at drawing sketches that turned into cards. He also made cards using photographs he had taken of our home, or of our family. I remember standing on a tall ladder outside our little Danvers house, posing there with my sister and parents for a family photo to be incorporated into a Christmas card. I also recall his hand-drawn maps of our neighborhood and of his ski trails. He wasn't an artist; he was an engineer who could visualize things and make clear drawings of his ideas.

There were real artists in the family and also among my parents' friends, so each year we received many lovely homemade Christmas cards. The unique designs and different styles were fascinating, much more fun than commercially-produced cards. We tended to keep the artistic ones; the commercial ones we cut and recycled into gift tags for the following year. Somewhere I have a bundle of Christmas cards by Danvers artist Richard V. Ellery; Dick and my father were very close friends.

My mother had a connection to Sadie May Morse. I grew up hearing the name "Sadie May Morse" in connection with our living room rug, a hooked rug designed and hooked in 1940 by this woman in Marblehead. How my mother met Sadie May is unknown to me, and I never met her. But I feel a very strong connection through that unique hooked rug on which I played. It had geometric patterns and various colored shapes that provided structure for some of our childhood games.  

I was trying to write about one of those games this morning, and as I began to describe the rug, I decided to double-check the spelling of Sadie's name. Hence my Google search... and discovery that Sadie was an artist in many media, including handprinted Christmas cards.

How did Much Ado, a bookstore in England, come to have Sadie's card designs?  Here's one clue:
"Much Ado’s roots are in a colonial seafront town just north of Boston, Massachusetts. Marblehead, self-proclaimed Yachting Capital of the World, was our home for more than 20 wonderful years.
But we crossed the Atlantic ... years ago to open a new Much Ado in a Medieval English village."
I'm happy to learn that Much Ado "gave most of Sadie May Morse's collection to the Marblehead Historical Society."  That suggests a good way for me to learn more about the woman who created the very special rug that warmed our living room, and enlivened our games, so many years ago.

I did write something about that rug, especially the red color of its background, in a column in the Danvers Herald in 2008: The Color of Blueberry Leaves in the Fall.

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