My grandmothers recipe books

I have a folder packed with my grandmothers recipes, hand written in a lined jotter and a notebook specially designed to collect your own. All carefully written out on  blue letter writing paper, envelopes and more. Its quite a collection, with lots of recipes cut out from magazines, saved to use again.   I also have my grans copy of Mrs Beaton's Cookery Book and still use her weighing scales each time I bake.

Parcels of parkin and treacle toffee regularly made their way to us by post. 
They didn't last long! 

Reading these brings back memories of 'helping' her in the kitchen and makes me want to bake some of her recipes - but they will never be as good a gran's.

Documenting the domestic.

In and out of the kitchen - Documenting the domestic - ideas for a new apron.

Waiting for sunshine!

On January 1st 2018, I started a personal project - a drawing a day for a year. using a black rollerball pen and watercolour paper cut to pocket size. I set out to draw wherever I was, not go somewhere specifically to draw. I nearly failed the first week, with a few drawings made late at night, but once I got into the habit, I started to enjoy it.  

Many of my drawings became about the domestic environment from community kitchens, to a new recipe tried out by my dad for the first time, trying to find the right cooking utensils.  Looking back through a year of documenting, many are from in my own kitchen. Each drawing holds a memory, from jam making, bread making in winter to rainy days when laundry dried indoors on the clothes maiden and the endless washing up. 

I'm planning a new apron, the shape yet undecided - perhaps contemporary rather than traditional. The imagery will be sourced from my stack of  2018's  365 drawings a day.


4 loaves - still hot

 A windy day means baking in my kitchen. 
 4 loaves ready.  
Chocolate cake has already been eaten. 
Pizza dough nearly ready for adding topping. 

Amy Turnbull shares her childhood photos.

 "... Me in one of the many pinnies I had growing up! 

For me it was part of the theatre of cooking and baking, like an integral part of the process. Not that I would have been allowed not to wear one because as you can see I was a messy pup!..."   Amy Turnbull from Glasgow 

I wonder what she's baking?!


Aprons from the early 1900's in Western Pennsylvania & Western Maryland

Karen Brooks from Maryland and West Virginia shares a wonderful selection of old family photos and current apron obsession!

 "..... some old photos of family members with their aprons on . The oldest are from the early 1900's and are of my great great grandmother's....." (above)

my great great grandmother Caroline Wilt Mcfadden

 these more recent photos are of my mom Gail Papke , 
she was an excellent seamstress and her apron won a ribbon 
at the Maryland state fair

my sister Kelly wearing that apron

"....The next photo (below) is my sister Kellys apron collection , most were hand made by our mom. My sister and I have had a love of aprons from early childhood. We both feel a sense of nostalgia and closeness to our mom , grandmothers when we get our aprons out, it is even more comforting to put one on when cooking or baking. Call it silly but whenever I see an old apron in a thrift store, I feel the need to rescue it because some ones mom or grand mother spent a lot if time in that apron cooking and baking for loved ones. I have my own apron collection ....."

family friend of my grandmothers 1950s
"...We are in Maryland and West Virginia of the US. My grandmothers and great grandmother's lived primarily in western Pennsylvania & Western Maryland. My great, great, great grandfather Ezra McCoy emigrated from Scotland late 1730s . He was of Whiteside decent/ Lanarkshire area ...."

5 generations of apron wearers!

Thanks to Kirsteen Oliver for sending these images documenting 5 generations of her family and aprons! 

".....  I read about you on the Scottish Field FB page.  What a great idea!....."
  1944 – my Great Granny Mitchell, Muasdale, Kintyre

1970 – my Granny Beaton and me.  My granny’s pinny being used to collect eggs.

Mum – my mum and me.  Feeding apron.

Granny and Grandpa – my granny always wore an apron, always busy in the kitchen.

Aunty Morag – Granny’s little sister, the last surviving child of Great Granny Mitchell, now 92, still wears a pinny.

QOH – I have a friend who designs logos for my aprons  - previously I was Queen of Hearts, Cakes and Tarts, this photo was taken with Clyde, the mascot for Glasgow Commonweath Games. 

GBBO 1 and 2 – my daughters at Moffat Gala Fancy Dress Competition, 2013

New Apron Logo – I changed the business name to Granny Beaton’s, so my friend, a tapestry weaver designed the new logo.  I wear the apron at my stall at Farmer’s markets around Glasgow.

".... If you like nostalgia, have a look at my website, I have told some of my Granny’s story of her life as a shepherds wife in Argyll...."



Pegs from the north of Scotland.

My project is evolving.  These pegs from K Thomson, in Inverness  are just delicious!  Who could resist!!  I ordered one of each colour - as I think about ways to display aprons  on washing lines - portable, easily folded away and light weight - suitable for unconventional exhibition spaces in remote locations. 

It's blowing a hooley outside, and that's reason these pegs are sought after - they have an extremely strong grip!  

Newfoundland clothes lines.

I'd purchased this pulley system clothes line and pegs while in Newfoundland.  Click here to see more photos of them in use in Newfoundland and in my own field! 

Do  you have any clothes line photos or stories to share? Do get in touch! 


Jasmine Paul from Newfoundland shares memories of aprons and her Nan

Thanks to Jasmine from St.John's, Newfoundland, for sending these images.

"My nan still wears an apron everyday and looks naked without it! She prefers half aprons with long strings and pockets for tissues. Her grandfather was Scottish."

Jasmines nan will be 91 this year, she lives in Come By Chance in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland.

"....She’s cutting up a Jasmine Pudding, a figgy duff, my favourite. It’s a boiled pudding..."

"Here is one I bought for her at a thrift shop. Hope to go visit soon so I can give it to her. I also gave her one for Christmas and she was extremely grateful!..."

Check out Jasmines blog: "Building a Traditional Newfoundland Punt - A traditional undertaking in a contemporary setting."

About Jasmine: Artist, writer, academic, and apprentice fish harvester.
Twitter: @jnp709

And thanks to Scottish Field Magazine for sharing! 

Sharing a few of your memories of aprons - thanks to Scottish Field Magazine.

Karen Brooks: 
"Reminds me of both my  grandmother's, never saw them in pants, always a dress with apron to cover.."

Pauline Jewett:
"My granny always wore an apron. But then back then, most ladies didn’t have a huge number of dresses and so the apron was to prevent the dresses getting dirty. They were used for wiping tears, for carrying tissues, for wiping hands on and for lifting lids off pans."

Joan Hewes:
"Pauline Jewett how very true.In some cases it was like a comfort blanket."

Dora Smith:
"My Granny and Great Aunts always wore these aprons, over skirts/dresses and never trousers. They were all farm women/wives. Sadly don't think have any photos, as they'd have taken the pinnies off for pics. I wore a pinny as a young child, at times. I remember one with a 'Pinky and Perky' Pig design.Prob saved on hand washing of heavier, woollen clothes."

Linda Thompson
"I remember my Grannie always in an apron with several nappy pins attached for my younger cousins - and always buttons in the pocket."

Heather Hutt:
"My granny always had her peenie on."

Sandra Kelman
"Pinny, my grannies always wore pinnies!"


Inspired by my pressed herbarium - a new floral pattern for a contemporary wrap apron - ideas in the making.

For the last few years we (me and my mum, Liz O'Donnell), have been making a pressed herbarium of plants growing in my field and at Langypo in Brough where we have permission to pick.  We used archival papers, tape and  documented each plants details following guidelines for herbarium collections, making sure our collection will last and be of use in the future. 

Traditionally, wrap aprons were made from fabric with a small floral repeat pattern - making them easy to cut and sew at home without having to match up the design. 

I'm planning a new contemporary apron which documents the flora where I live using our pressed herbarium as the source of inspiration - I like the formal layout with labels.   The shape of the apron and techniques to make it are yet  to be decided.


Morag Henriksen and friends: aprons and memories

Some wonderful memories and aprons from Morag Henriksen and friends: 

"........Left to right: Hazel Raee, Wilma MacRuary, Janet MacClymont, Morag Henriksen. The Skye Batiks apron is on the floor......... We had fun remembering rapped knuckles and run and fell seams..........."

".... During a sewing group at the Portree library we began talking about school sewing and up to1965 or so every school in Scotland had sewing classes and made the same things to the same patterns. 

These are librarian,Gillian Siwek's lapbag, pinny and Dutch apron made in Fraserburgh Central in the 60s. Her mother hoarded her work; mine didn't but we made the same in Lochcarron Primary in the 50s and Wilma MacRuary in Crown Primary ,Inverness too....."

".... My Dad was wearing this school-made apron in his garden shed in the eighties and nineties. I kept it when he died and my son likes to cook in it now. I used to use it myself until this year I indulged in a new pinny from Skye Batiks in Portree. Therssy makes cushions and pinnies from the scraps left from their trousers and tops....." 

I recently met Morag who, after nearly 30yrs said:
Do I know you, you look familiar?

Huge thanks to Morag Henriksen, the now retired head teacher of Uig Primary School for emailing me a selection of photos now in Skye & Lochalsh Archive Centre, Portree from
my 1st artist residency job after Uni, 1993 Isle of Skye!


Netherlands - apron

A beautiful photo, sent in by Leny Bravenboer.

".....In Rotterdam in the Netherlands women also used to wear aprons.
This is a photograph of the mother of my husbands Grandmother.

Photo taken around 1950

Success with your project.
I’ve been following you for a few years now, and enjoy reading about your projects
Greetings Leny Bravenboer...."

Ghulam Rasul - Dingwall - Drapery - aprons and overalls

I met Ghulam Rasul in his drapery shop, Dingwall who delighted in showing me his stock of aprons, overalls and pinnies. Ghulam told me that the last of his wrap aprons had been sold to a lady from Canada. I can't recall how recently this was, but, having been in the business since for 60 years, since  leaving school in 1959, Ghulam is thinking about retiring. In the earler days of his business, he travelled with his shop, going north as far as Brora.

  I purchased a few items from his stock, but he insisted on giving me more, which I am very grateful. It seems I have started an apron collection, and it's growing as I descover them on my travels!