Friday, July 20, 2012

Today is the Day

Today is Friday, July 20, 2012.  Not a significant date in history, but an anniversary nonetheless.  On this day in 1985,  the wreck of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha was found off the coast of Key West.  Pretty cool stuff. Stuff that was a very big deal for Jim as a photographer and another explanation for our love of the Keys in general. 

But what does this have to do with my stitching?  Well, please just bear with me while I fill in the backdrop story and you'll see.  First though, here's how it began:
   
The Atocha was part of a fleet of Spanish galleons returning to Spain in the fall of 1622.  The fleet  left Havana loaded with treasure when a hurricane struck and washed it onto the reefs.
 
The Atocha was carrying the largest amount of gold and silver. It sank quickly and the treasure was lost.  That is, lost until July 20, 1985, when Mel Fisher and his treasure hunters found a debris field scattered with gold coins, jewels and religious artifacts  not far off the coast of Key West.  I won't go into the details of it, but if you want to know more about this man and his amazing find, check this out:
  
Now. here's where the story gets personal...and yes, we are getting to the stitching part of it! 
As you can imagine, this was huge news at the time, especially here in Florida.  Every day there were new reports of the wonders being brought to the surface.  And Jim, as the young ace photographer for the Tribune, was sent off to Key West to cover the story.  As luck would have it, when he checked into the salvage office, none other than Mel Fisher himself was there, on the radio to the salvage fleet.  "Today is the Day!" was always his mantra, and as it turned out for both Jim and the salvagers, it truly was the day.  Huge bars of silver had just been brought to the surface.  Mel was taking a boat out to the site  and he offered to give Jim a ride out with him.  What a thrill!  My own husband had the chance to photograph Spanish silver breaking the surface for the first time in over 300 years.  How cool is that?
Now, on to the stitching part of the story...if you're still reading this, thanks for hanging in there!
I've been thinking for awhile now that I would love to do a Florida themed sampler, but couldn't find anything that didn't have flamingos and flip-flops all over it, much less looked like the sort of antique sampler I usually fall for  Then I happened to find this illustration of the Atocha   and it got the wheels turning in my head...
  
Where had I seen this before in all my stitching treasure?  A quick deep sea dive through the closet turned up this lost artifact:
See the similarity?  
My plan is to use most of the original design as is, but substitute the wording with an acknowledgement of the Atocha.  I'll also change the date and the names of the ships to those in the Atocha fleet,
And best of all, I spent this afternoon plundering for booty in the depths of my stash.  I don't think those drab Prairie Schooler colors suit what I've got in mind, so I salvaged around and came up with a palette of Hand-Dyed Fibers that says "Gulf of Mexico".  I may just choose the specific colors as I go, but at least now everything is kitted and ready to set sail.  What do you think?
I can't wait to get started - after all, today is the day!

11 comments:

Samplers, Silks and Linens said...

I can't wait to see you make a start - I'd love to see your interpretation of this design -

Margaret said...

I'm a day late -- but wow! That is such a neat story! And that your DH got to go out to the wreck site and see the silve bars coming up from the sea too! Sooo cool! And the design -- it's perfect! The color palette -- oh my gosh, sooooo gorgeous! Fantastic colors! I'm a day late cause I knew I wouldn't have the time to sit and absorb the story. I'm glad I waited. Looking forward to seeing the project come alive!

Chocolates4Breakfast (TerriBoog) said...

What a great story! How exciting for your husband. I love the sampler you've chosen - and I think your color conversion will be perfect! I have never seen that PS chart before - it's fabulous!!! I'll really enjoy watching your stitching and your conversion. Fantastic. Now... I wonder if that chart ever pops up on ebay???

Lanie said...

Mary, that is a terrific story! I am so fascinated by history and the personal stories that it can tell. Can't imagine the thrill this was for your husband!

Your "Atocha Sampler" is going to be fabulous! Love the colors you have put together ... can't wait to follow along with your progress!

Penny said...

What a wonderful story! And I'm in love with your idea for your sampler! The colors you have chosen definitely say "Gulf of Mexico" - gorgeous! I can't wait to see your work on this!!

mary's blog said...

Sometimes I think my big sister is the coolest person on earth!

Lois said...

I think this is the perfect piece to stitch and I love the colours you've decided to go with. Looking forward to watching your progress on this one.

woolwoman said...

Being a native and 5th generation flordian - I am intrigued and impressed with your reworking of the PS "new world" sampler into an Atocha sampler. My mom has a replica coin from the Atocha made from the spanish silver. I have always been fascinated by Mel Fishers adventures in treasure hunting. I have joined your blog as a follower and hope to see more progress. I was also very impressed with your gorgeous finish of frances burwell. I feel like maybe we've met - maybe Ellen Chesters class some years ago in Treasure Island area?
Melody

Mary said...

I think you are right, Melody! So nice to hear from you.

hollo winds said...

Thanks for sharing, I will bookmark and be back again...


Atocha Coin Jewelry

Miami Ram said...

Thanks for sharing, I will bookmark and be back again...


Atocha Coin Jewelry