Monday, February 13, 2012

Hawthorne Part 2

Shortly after I completed the quotes at Nathaniel Hawthorne's birthplace, I was asked to do one more thing—a family tree on one of the walls in the first gallery. It could be simple—the point was to show his ancestry and tree drawings and embellishments weren't necessary. I decided I wanted it to be different from the quotes and did the names in all caps which conveniently I find easier to do. It is the Hathorne Family Tree. Nathaniel changed the spelling to Hawthorne because he ashamed of the family's past—Justice John Hathorne, Nathaniel's great-great grandfather, was known as "The Hanging Judge" for his role in the Salem Witch Trials.

As before I started at home. I used smaller brushes and wrote out the names first on graph paper. I used them to plan the layout on brown paper.

I did a practice run complete with pencil lines at home. Last time we used a borrowed 4 foot metal level. This time we were using a fiberglass one that we had purchased. Its lighter weight made it so much easier to use. As before, I held the level against the wall on one side at the mark, Charlie adjusted it to make it level while I made sure it didn't move on my side, and then I ruled the pencil line.

One of the things the practice run did was show potential problems. After writing starting the second line with the wrong name, I came up with a system of folding the paper so that I could only see the name I was writing each time.

When we got to the house, we encountered a problem. The painted wall did not extend the entire height of the wall as the bottom was wood and the text as I had done it didn't fit. My heart sank. I so did not want to go home and work out another layout. Thankfully, the creative thinking of Kristin, the assistant to the Director, saved the day. I had originally been told the family tree would start with the first ancestor to come to Massachusetts and end with Hawthorne's children. The final copy I received was longer with his children's marriages and their children and that was what I had planned. Kristin said, Why don't we just stop at Hawthorne's children? Brilliant idea! She called Alan, the director, and he approved. Less work for me and better looking as the bottom was more complicated. I merrily trimmed the bottom off and we taped the brown paper version to a nearby wall. After some interruptions last time, we hung a sheet over the door so I could work in peace.

I was braver this time and did the writing directly with the brush rather than doing pencil outlines first. I had two copies of the text, one I kept whole as a guide and the other I cut into strips and taped each line on the wall as I went along.
It was great relief when the last words and dates were written. One or two near misses but no mistakes. Whew!

While there, I enjoyed the opportunity to see the galleries with the exhibits installed. This is the desk that Hawthorne used to write both The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables.

Here is the chair he sat in when he visited his cousin Susannah Ingersoll who encouraged his writing. The painting is a copy of an original potrait painted by Charles Osgood in 1840.

The empire sofa was owned by the Hawthornes when they lived in Lenox, MA.

This room has cases of drawings by Hawthorne's wife Sophia as well as a painting of hers over the fireplace.

Editions of Hawthorne's books are on display in the last gallery. The portrait is of his aunt Rachel Hathorne Forrester. The round table was originally hers and then owned by Nathaniel and Sophia.

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