Tuesday, January 1, 2013

In Defense of Doilies

Spider Webs of Lace

Like most of us, the period in which I grew up shaped my sensibilities. My coming of age took place in the years comprised of the 1970's and 80's a period when women were having to prove something, fight for respect and shoulder their way into environments with a predominately male topography. Things traditionally thought of as feminine were shed. Clothing developed straighter more angular lines to replace curves, ruffles and lace. Women's time became precious as they strove to "have it all" and things purely decorative were considered inefficient and a waste of one's time and talent. Doilies, those intricate, time consuming circles of looped thread seemed especially to epitomize the waste of woman's time and talents as she sat for hours making nothing more useful than an pretty web. Indeed, go into most any second hand or  
Detail of Above
thrift shop and there you can pick up half a dozen handmade doilies for no more than a few dollars each. The time it took a woman to fashion these small wonders is given little thought or respect. And yet each one of them is a mathematical wonder in which several motifs begin with a single starting point and evolve outward into their final circumference. In the later half of the 1800's and on into the mid 1900's were used to beautify the home. Early on they were thought of as napkins meant to wipe fingers on, then they became antimacassars meant to protect furniture from the greasy hair product men wore in those days. It was clear upon delving into the treasure trove of needlework inherited from Great Grandma Ragna, that her house was a veritable froth of frill as delicate, intricate webs of crochet doilies overflowed the contents of what I found inside the chest amongst her other needlework. As I drew each one out and gently smoothed it flat I realized what true works of art each one was, the kaleidoscope of stitch variations, the delicate motifs and intricate arabesques of mathematics Ragna's needle had lead the fine cotton thread through. Each one of her doilies, as well as all the other doilies ever made, became for me like one of the lilies of the field that bloom unremarked and undervalued. What spider of unbelievable beauty spun such elegant webs of art and why oh why don't they grace our homes still or show up on gallery walls as they deserve? For this reason many doilies will appear on this blog site interwoven with the other posts about the other needlework found in my inherited chest of Ragna's treasure. I hope as you look closely you too will become entwined with these elegant lacework webs, created as surely as the Greeks tell us the spider herself was originally created . . .  by a spell of enchantment. 

9"x 16"



1 comment:

  1. Isn't it amazing what was once made . . .I am so glad these feel into your heart and hands!