By Suzann Thompson
The sight of a doily brings back memories!
If you’ve ever crocheted a doily, you may remember the feeling of satisfaction when you finished it; or the thrill of watching the doily’s pattern take shape as you worked with your hands and hook.
Those are great memories, but doilies have even greater, almost magical powers. A doily can transport a person back in time to a childhood home or a wonderful summer with their beloved grandmother.
It’s true! I’ve seen it happen over and over at the Celebrate Doilies exhibit, which honors doily crocheters of the past and present. Their stories, and photos of their work, are exhibited alongside doily-themed art quilts and poetry.
The doily stories are from families around North Central Texas where I live, and beyond. People told me about their thrifty, hardworking ancestors and how they lived. Then they brought out family heirloom doilies. I photographed them and used the photos and stories to create posters about these crocheters.
Coats and Clark loaned two more posters. One showed doily pattern books from the late 1930s and early ’40s. The other poster featured modern doily designs by crochet experts Kathryn A. White, Susan Lowman, and Lisa Gentry.
Poet Sandi Horton had delicate crocheted items from her mother and both grandmothers. She said, “I’d like to write ekphrastic poems about these pieces.” I learned that day, that ekphrastic poems are inspired by existing pieces of art. Fifteen of Sandi’s poems became part of the Celebrate Doilies exhibit. Several were about her family heirlooms, and others were about my doily art quilts.
Each of the 16 quilts I made for Celebrate Doilies incorporated some sort of vintage needlework, like doilies, crocheted trims, and even an unfinished piece of needlepoint. The whimsical “Crochet Comets” wall hanging features two vintage doilies with a combination of yellow and white thread, which made me think of stars. For “Pretty as a Picture” I dyed a crocheted trim to match the vintage embroidery of a young lady. The yellow flowers are crocheted with Aunt Lydia’s No. 10 Crochet Cotton.
Together, the colorful quilts, words, and photos of Celebrate Doilies open a world of history, imagination, and memories of home and family—all thanks to lacy, lovely, enchanting doilies!
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The Celebrate Doilies exhibit will be at the German Free School, 507 East 10th Street, Austin, Texas, in May 2018. Find exhibit hours and other details at Textile Fusion.
The art quilts of Celebrate Doilies will be part of a group exhibit at the Fine Arts Building Gallery at Tarleton State University, Stephenville, Texas, in July 2018.
If you are interested in having Celebrate Doilies exhibited at a gallery or other venue in your area, please visit Textile Fusion Events for information.
I am still collecting stories about doily crocheters of the past and present. If you have one to share, please contact Suzann Thompson.