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Late August is the time when kids go back to school, and nostalgia  grows for summers past and the months just gone, and for what you didn’t get done that you wanted to. It’s a time for transitions and remembering, when we’re on the verge of a fresh start. Even at my age, decades out of school, fall represents a fresh start, a time to begin something new. Now it’s more painful to drop my son at the airport than it was to take him to his first day of kindergarten: I won’t see him again until Thanksgiving or Christmas, depending on his class schedule. So to distract myself, I turned to a new-old project: the circular reticule with a pasteboard center.

I’ve been working on a version of the abolitionist reticules made in the 1820s, but recently came across some delightful earlier reticules offered by Skinner, one of a lady and a lamb, and one a Memento Mori.

My disused painting skills just stretch to the naive style of early nineteenth century schoolgirl painting, though it is hard to capture the full style when one has a modern eye. (Once you’ve seen Picasso and Warhol, can you ever go back?)

If/when I make another of these, I’ll definitely make some changes in techniques and materials, starting with the inscription. (Where is my historically correct ink? Where are the pen nibs?) For now, though,I’m happy enough and even ok with the off-centeredness of the painting on the circle. Lesson learned: do not rush through a project without planning all the steps.

I figure I’ll even it out a bit when I attach the bag.

I still have to paint the opposite side, and then decide what silk to use for the bag (I have some embroidered silk that I’m saving for a 1790s ball gown, but should have enough for a bag) and whether or not to line it. The catalog descriptions don’t mention linings, and the images appear to show only a layer of silk, with no lining.

It’s hard for me to wrap my head around an unlined anything, and for embroidered silk, a lining will help keep whatever I’m carrying from tangling in the threads on the wrong side of the fabric.

This isn’t a quick project, and I have to put it aside to work on commissions, but it does give me something to look forward to working on– a small memento vivere, if you will.