In 1951, Ivan and Stella Addis of Dearborn, Michigan, presented their daughter Isamay with this charming personalized keepsake. Its vibrant colors–red, blue, gold, purple, yellow, silver–shine out from a black background. This item, called a tinsel painting, showcases both an American folk art form and Isamay’s affiliation with the International Order of Rainbow for Girls (IORG).
Tinsel paintings were made by securing reverse-painted glass over a surface of different colored foil. Parts of the glass were painted with a black pigment like lampblack–finely powdered soot–to highlight the colors of the foil. These paintings were especially popular in the latter half of the 1800s, but examples from the 1900s, like this one, do exist. Many tinsel paintings featured botanical or patriotic themes.
This example features a half circle enclosing the letter R, to represent the “Rainbow” in “International Order of Rainbow for Girls,” above clasped hands and a small pot of gold. These are symbols of the organization, which was founded in 1922 and welcomes girls ages eleven to twenty with a family connection to Freemasonry. Atop the rainbow design are the letters B, F, C, and L. The B stands for the Bible, reflecting the religious nature of the order. The F represents the flag and the C the Constitution. The L stands for “lambskin,” i.e. a lambskin apron, worn by Masons around the waist and by Rainbow girls around the wrist.
Isamay Addis (1936-2023) lived with her parents Ivan (1907-1972) and Stella (1916-2000) in Dearborn. Stella was Mother Advisor for Dearborn Assembly No. 3 in the 1940s. In 1949, Isamay joined IORG at age thirteen, at Dearborn Assembly where her mother was involved. Isamay later served as Worthy Advisor of this assembly and held different roles at the state level in Michigan IORG in the mid-1950s. In 1959, she graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and married Robert N. Osborne (1936-2008), whom she met while they were both involved in Dearborn Rainbow and DeMolay.
In 2019, Isamay generously donated a group of Rainbow and DeMolay material to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in memory of her husband, who was a Past Grand Master and Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Michigan, a 33rd degree Scottish Rite Mason, and Past Deputy for Michigan. Isamay passed away on May 15, 2023. Her obituary noted that she was “an extremely talented crafter.” She was also a longtime friend and supporter of the Museum & Library. This tinsel painting–a lustrous example of the form and an excellent memento of Isamay’s time in Rainbow–is currently on view in our exhibition “The Masonic Hall of Fame: Extraordinary Freemasons in American History.”