The Art of the (Original) Pin

For the first 15 1/2 years of my life, I started every November 7th with a phone call. The conversation usually went something like this:

Me: “Hello?”
Her: “Hi Caylee, it’s Grandma. Happy half birthday!”
Me: “Oh, Grandma… thank you! But happy birthday to you!”

I seem to recall blowing out more than my fair share of candles as a younger girl, and receiving far too many small gifts and “birthday” cards as I got older. Grandma always enjoyed her birthday parties — we celebrated her with chocolate cake and her favorite accessory, a pin, every year — but she never once forgot to wish me a happy day of my own.

Grandma was a woman of many domestic talents. She could sew, knit, crochet, quilt, or needlepoint just about anything, and had a decently green thumb with her small array of flowers and house plants. Cooking wasn’t her strong suit (she had siblings aplenty who mastered that art instead), but no baby in the family went without a soft, hand-knitted blanket and every newlywed couple had a beautiful afghan for their home.

I have Grandma to thank for my ability to crochet (she despaired at teaching me to knit), a thorough knowledge of the twisted plot lines from daytime soap operas, and a deep appreciation for what I now call the Art of the Pin — every outfit and occasion had a matching adornment, found in organized drawers in her small jewelry box.

Often brightly-colored and fanciful in design, pins can be worn to great effect both singly and together. One small brooch tacked to a lapel is a modest statement; a cluster of mixed-and-matched sparklers is bold and dramatic. My woolly winter coat feels incomplete without a snowflake, and the easiest way to dress up a little black dress has to be a brightly-colored scarf and tasteful gold pin to hold it in place. Any way you wear them, pins are perfection.

Grandma did not see my sweet sixteen, my graduations, or my wedding, but I’m absolutely certain that she would love my profession. Of course, she’d also be on the receiving end of some fabulous new pins.

Featured image — Plique-a-Jour enamel on 18K gold butterfly, with diamonds and freshwater pearls by Nicole Barr.

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