Sunday, August 18, 2013

Heritage and Tradition: A trip to the Smithsonian

Hello Inspired Readers,
I know...I haven't posted anything for almost a year and now 3 posts in a week. Well, my hope is to do one or two Inspiring posts per week, but I'm catching up a little!
So, my new business name...If you guess it, get a big prize. Seriously! Make a guess, after this post! 
I have changed the way you can comment, so go to the bottom of my blog site and you can now post, even if you aren't signed up! (Hit the grey words at top Inspired Design and it will take you to the blog)

These fabulous pics below are from a trip my mom and I took to the WHOA show & the Smithsonian! Whoa show, next blog. But in order to view the archives on my Grandpa (Allan Adler) and Great Grandpa (Porter Blanchard) you have to GO to the Smithsonian, in Washington DC and actually view the archives of the American Craft Wing, but there is intense security. Firstly we had to make a reservation months in advance. Then, we had to check our purses into a special set of lockers and go into a room and take nothing in OR out. We could use our phones or their copy machines and that was it. AND they were not messing around with the rules. We had to sign an email first, then a copy in person upon entering. OH...and when we entered the building we had to have a security check with our drivers liscences, photo id first, then we were issued an i.d. badge. They were strict about lunch from noon to one, then we could come back. There was no loud talking, laughing or fun of any type to bed had! Not one ounce! Oh, also, we had to take the folders out in a certain order, leave a bookmark on the spot we were looking at and return it FIRST, before we were allowed to move on. We were not allowed to BOTH touch the papers, only one of us. (I'm a BIG rule follower and I was SCARED of this lady), the history and heritage that came out of these fragile papers was indescribable. It was beyond worth it to fly back to Washington DC for one night with my mom to view these. There was no pomp or circumstance involved, simply an offsite office building of documents. Smithsonian documents. It was pretty amazing that the Smithsonian treasures my Grandpa and Great Grandpa as some of their founding Silversmiths. 

The ability to touch my Great Grandfathers very large sketches from HIS own portfolio was breathtaking. To see his words scribbled and his pencil markings for clients was amazing. His sketch lines were so similar to mine, and his ideas and phrases were so inherently familiar. It's very difficult to put into words how impactful seeing, feeling, touching, smelling these papers that my Grandpa (and Great Gpa) had had their hands all over. Seeing the familiar right brain touches all over were again, overwhelming. 

I began this journey because I was to write an article for Silver Magazine. As I did my research, I stumbled upon person after person who told me story after story about my Allan & Porter. One after the other, so much so, I couldn't keep up! I gave up on the story and began to dive into the research as it seemed to beckon me into it's history. The Arts & Crafts Museum of Los Angeles wants to have a series, I've been invited to some incredible craftsmen's homes and studio's to learn and experience what they know about my Allan & Porter. (Shorter than saying Grandpa Allan Adler & Great Grandpa Porter Blanchard)

As the research developed I was directed to a silver historian in Orange County who had done extensive research on my families silver line. I know you won't believe this (I hardly do) but I have 450 silversmith's in my family. Huh...It began in England and they immigrated to Boston, and so on. But 450, how could that be? Well, with 8 or 9 common in big families it doesn't take long for it to get to 450, with spouses and entire families of 8 children learning the trade. It was fascinating. I'm still trying to absorb all the information. 

I'll give a brief description of the pics...but the reason I share is because a big part of the new business name is from my heritage! Here is some...
My Great's sketch above is dark, rich and certain. I only knew Porter until I was like 12, but he taught my Grandpa Allan everything and I was very close with G Allan. He was very certain and definite. He was never called wishy-washy! I took a dear friend and client to him once to design a stand for an Australian wood bowl and it was both entertaining and beautiful. My client was an engineer. My Grandfather was the most right brained person that perhaps ever existed. Funny combo.

I love this sketch of my Grandpa Porters workshop in Burbank. It turns out in the most amazing turn of events ever that a client of mine a few years ago lived next door to Grandpa Porter. Now, I didn't meet through a relative or such, but a referral from a friend. After designing for them for over a year, I suggested a silver set to go with their Federalist style and she said "Oh how funny, my next door neighbor was a silversmith when I grew up." I had remembered she grew up in Pacoima (where the studio was moved to) long story short my friend Loretta grew up next door to my Grandpa Porter. When we were going to select marble for their kitchen we stopped by the house, which was still there but going to be torn down (of all things in one week from when we visited). What a crazy story! I know, I almost don't believe it either.
The above pic was my Uncle Lewie (Allan's Bro in law, Porter's son in law) and his boys my Uncle Ralph and Troy.  Below, my Grandpa Porter as I remember him...much older!

Here was book that was published, in limited edition, for Gumps about Silversmithing...Porter Blanchard. Above, was my pretty Auntie Alice holding up some silver for the camera's. She was very sweet and lovely.

Above is Allan's Store on the Sunset Hollywood! Chin Chin Chinese Food is there now...but for my whole childhood I would take a trip to this spot and see the most amazing retail store up top and workshop on the basement story.
Above, Grandpa Porter...crafting a spoon.
Below, Uncle Lewie...

My mom and I at the Smithsonian with the folders of our heritage.

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Leslie said...

Wow! Such an interesting post:) Thank you for sharing. Also wanted to pop in to say hello and thank you for your sweet comment. I'll be following you via google!! xxL

Inspired Design said...

:) I pinned a few things from your last blog pretty...
How do you follow via google, I'm so technologically behind!!!

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