Tuesday 19 May 2015

All washed up

Mother’s Day has come and gone and, being bad kids, we failed to mark the occasion with a fitting tribute artifact. Today we hope to remedy that with an object near and dear to every mother’s heart, the Washing Stick.

A washing stick was necessary in the not-so-long-ago past to agitate clothes in a wash tub and to scoot those same wet clothes out of the wash tub without soaking yourself to the armpits. Now all the mothers reading this probably just gave a collective groan at our choice: a washing stick is the 1800s equivalent of giving mom a clothes iron to honour her on her special day. But this is no ordinary washing stick! This one is made with love.

Some enterprising husband or child created this washing stick for Mom from just three pieces of wood, carved and turned to create a handmade treasure. The prong and shaft of the washing stick are the functional bits you would expect but the handle is where the magic happens. The loving maker of this washing stick has gone to the effort to decorate the handle with several tiny treasures.

On one side, hearts and diamonds are carved in raised relief on the handle and beneath is engraved the word ‘Mother’ in a delicate script. Even the hole at the top of the handle to secure the rope strap has been carved in the shape of a heart.

Awwwww! We bet you moms are feeling a bit guilty now about dismissing such an obviously thoughtful choice of artefact!

The carving on the opposite side is a bit more puzzling: this side of the handle is carved with a tiny pair of snowshoes, which begs a lot of questions. 
Was mom an avid snowshoe enthusiast? 

Did the maker know that she dreamed of taking to the trails when the washing duties came a-calling?

Or was the handle made from a broken pair of snowshoes and this was the carver’s way of fessing up to his destruction of said snowshoes?

The truth is lost to time but, without a doubt, this is a beautiful tribute to mom – wrapped in a not-so-subtle plea for her to wash the gifter’s dirty clothes.

Happy (belated) Mother’s Day
from the rotten kids at the Kings County Museum!

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