From pouches to pin cushions, a whimsy is a beautiful, beaded memento of Iroquois ingenuity and turning souvenirs into survival.
The Iroquois tribes were indigenous to the East Coast of present-day United States and southeastern Canada, a hub for the arrival of European tourists who quickly became intrigued by the impressive craftsmanship of the native peoples. There became an increase in demand for Native American curios, and the Iroquois women saw the opportunity to capitalize on the influx of travelers by creating souvenirs to commemorate their experiences. Thus, the whimsy was born.
A whimsy can take many forms, from picture frames to purses to boxes; and shapes, such as birds, boots, berries, stars, hearts, etc. They’re all hand-beaded in a dimensional, bumped-out style that is unique to this trade, and typically annotate an event, a place, a date, or a sentiment.
“A lot of people collect vintage whimsies, myself included,” Cheryl said. “I fell into the allure of these unique little creations probably 25 years ago, and have been collecting them ever since; I would estimate 300 pieces or more. Some of them will belong to me forever, but I am parting with some of them so they can be appreciated in new homes; they’re too beautiful to sit in storage.”
The assortment of styles and shapes is so vast, there’s a whimsy for everyone!
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