Monday, 27 May 2013

The Caterpillar Club

My father was born in 1945. This tiny thing represents the lives of myself and my sister and all of my aunts, uncles and cousins on that side.

Silkworm brooch with ruby eyes

My grandfather was a professional airman before, during, and after the Second World War. These brooches were presented by parachute manufacturers. If your life was saved by a parachute, you could write to them and they would send you one of these, with a letter welcoming you to the "Caterpillar Club". It's a minuscule gold silkworm, the caterpillar of a silk moth, with ruby eyes.

The ones I can find online that look like this one were issued by Irving Air Chute of Great Britain, Ltd., but various designs seem to have been used. To my taste, this is the nicest. We no longer have my grandfather's membership certificate or the presentation box, but the brooch has stayed in my Dad's possession, in a little cellophane wrapper inside my grandfather's portable writing box, along with leftover invitations to my parents' wedding reception and other odds and ends that nobody knows what to do with. It's possible that this brooch is a replacement - family legend is that he bailed out more than once, and the first one was lost, but I have no evidence.

I knew him, briefly, the only one of my grandparents I ever met. 

It always seemed a little wrong to me that a thing with so much meaning should be totally hidden away. But no one can reasonably wear it, and such a tiny object is tricky to display.

So I got a box frame from Atlantis Art Supplies, a bit of mount board, a bit of velvety black wool cloth from my stash, and some soft glossy mercerised cotton, and I've crocheted it a little picture to be in. Parachutes at that time were dome-shaped rather than rectangular as they are these days.

Display picture for the Caterpillar Club brooch
It has a curious clasp, a sort of two-part spring thing I have never seen before. I had to borrow my mother's reading glasses to attach it to the picture.

Ready to hang


maya said...

Great idea to showcase something so meaningful.

MOCKBA said...

How wonderfully appropriate it is for silk to be the thread of memory!

msHedgehog said...

There's no actual silk in this piece - it would be good for embroidery but is really too soft to work well for crochet. But the soft, shiny mercerised cotton does look very like it, and it's about the right colour, slightly off-white.

msHedgehog said...

But still - threads of memory it certainly is. Metaphorically silk!

Cie said...

what a splendid piece.