Stitcher Showcase: Betty Wilkin

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever; its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness”, John Keats wrote. The love and care this trunk has had through the generations certainly bears this out.

In April, 1863, an unknown craftsman in Christiansund, Norway, created this trunk for my great-grandmother, Anna Haagensdatter Furseth. Painted in the Valdres style of rosemaling, large bouquets of flowers are centered on each side, and her name and date are beautifully painted in a perfect script across the front. Almost 40 years later, in 1900, the blue trunk was fitted with iron bands to strengthen it, and made the trip across the Atlantic with my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.

The trunk is fitted with a magnificently crafted spring lock and handmade key. This trunk, passed from grandmother to granddaughter twice over, is in its original condition. My daughter, who has the trunk now, was chosen from several granddaughters to receive it due to her love of painting and the arts. While visiting me this past spring, she saw the Hardanger wall hanging made from the pattern created by Mildred Torgerson in the book “Norwegian Heritage in Hardanger Embroidery”. She suggested I take the same wall hanging, substituting the names of the women in our family, showing the direct lineage through six generations. My granddaughter is unmarried, so space has been left for the future.

Soon, the trunk and the wall hanging will both be hers. Knowing she has a strong affinity for her Norwegian heritage, I’m confident these well loved pieces will always hold a special place in her heart and her home, as they will be a constant reminder of the love our family shares.

Betty Wilkin from El Paso, Texas

Leave a Comment