Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Of Pot Holders and Potsherds

When I was around nine or ten, my sis and I received a pot holder loom like this one for Christmas. Pot holder looms had been around since the depression, but by the 1950's they were seen as more of a 'toy' than something a housewife used.
 At first we squabbled over the loom. I might have a potholder started and Betty would take it over and spoil my design by weaving random colors. Or she might have started one and gotten bored - leaving me seething because I had dreamed up a new design I wanted to try.
Eventually Betty lost interest in making pot holders, but I did not. I loved trying new configurations and colors. The hardest part for me was squeezing in those last two or three loops and then taking the pot holder off the loom. I can remember Grandma Lynam helping me with that many times before I finally got the hang of it.
I made so many potholders I had an excess. I tried selling them to neighbors and relatives. Two for a quarter was my price. I don't remember selling very many, even though I started out thinking I was going to be rich.

Over the years, as hosiery styles changed, so did the loops for the potholders. The loops were made from the leftover waste cut from socks during the manufacturing process. I remember once buying a bag of nylon loops. They were easier to work with, but they sure didn't make good pot holders - they didn't keep the heat from coming through and burning your hand. They would also melt if a really hot pan was set on them.
These three pot holders are the last ones I have. I know my granddaughter, Alyssa, made the two orange, green and white ones. Those are the colors of the Irish flag. She knew I would appreciate having some Irish pot holders. I might have given her the loom - or one of the other grand kids. I know I no longer have it.

We were watching America Unearthed on H2 last week. They were searching for evidence of Norse giants on a farm in Minnesota. They didn't find any giant's bones, just a bunch of potsherds which are fragments of broken pottery.
Just as I've always wanted to find an arrowhead, I have dreamed of finding some significant pieces of potsherds. I think of some of the finds made by archaeologists and how exciting that must be - especially if you found a complete, unbroken, pot.

I do have a couple old pieces of pottery. The larger of these two was left in the basement of a house I once rented. I'm pretty sure it is Mexican pottery made for the tourist trade. I don't know how old it is, but I would guess it was from the 50's, 60's or earlier. I moved into that house in 1969. The former tenants did not feel it was valuable enough to keep.
The little pot was made in July, 1932. How do I know? Because on the bottom is incised, "Bicknell, Art 108, 7-28-32."  I think I bought it for a quarter at a garage sale. It's not Native American, but the shape, size, colors and age appealed to me.

Making potholders - an activity from my past. Finding potsherds - still in my future?

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