New Patterns from Old Lace

Saturday was antiquing day.

I spent a couple of hours combing the aisles of two antique malls, searching for some new designs to incorporate into my slab pottery.  And boy, did I have to dig for these doilies.

I ended up with 6 reasonably-priced vintage doilies, in patterns which I thought would translate well to a ceramic surface (i.e. be interesting and suit my style).  I tend not to go with anything too “boxy” or modern-looking–round or oval ones with a radiating design are most interesting to me.

If you’re new to my work, here’s an example of what I do with these things:

Now, let me say–I never liked going into antique stores when I was a kid.  I was never interested in old stuff; it kind of scared me.  There’s a certain smell to an antique shop, moldy books and old leather and wood, and having something of a dead-thing-0-phobia, I always seem to come around a corner and find a taxidermied raccoon or a purse made out of a flattened Gila monster (as happened this week).  The fear of such horrific surprises kept me from cultivating an appreciation of antiques, at least in mass, packed-to-the-gills, never-know-what-you’re-going-to-find quantities.But I’m starting to come around.  Since discovering the fantastic patterns and texture that lace imparts to clay, I’ve turned an eye on the actual textile pieces I’m using and have realized how intricate their craftsmanship really is.  And naturally that makes me think of the hands that made them.

Although I’m a Christian and believe in storing up treasures in heaven, I think things are still important.  I don’t advocate greed, but neither do I think we can eschew the importance of what we surround ourselves with.  We have physical bodies, and the world surrounds us with the tangible and beautiful, and some of us have the innate need to make things.  (Much more could be written about this.)  I’m in the business of making (arguably) beautiful things, which enrich my life with that beauty and their personal, handmade nature.

I’m also guilty of anthropomorphizing;  sometimes I feel sorry for certain things, as if they are people.  Of course this is misplaced emotion, but I think it stems from knowing that there is a person behind something–especially something obviously made with care–and seeing that thing abandoned, disused, and uncared-for.  Futility and waste are my abhorrence.Enter antique doilies.

Seeing this beautiful craftsmanship languishing in an antique store arouses in me a rescue instinct.  This has led me to start seeing my process of using them as a process of preservation–I make copies of their patterns and textures, and thus make a visual imprint of the skill and care that went into their creation, and in my small way save them from waste, at least for now.  (Not that clay is any more eternal than crocheted lace, but it may last longer, and the lace pattern may be duplicated in many pieces of ceramic work.)I should add that I’m not trying to completely duplicate these designs.  They usually end up cropped or offset somehow, and the ceramics they adorn are not particularly traditional in appearance.  In a way, I’m preserving and updating at the same time.  I think that’s kind of the way things go, and I’ve been happy with what I’ve come up with.I suppose this is the same thought process the Gila monster purse-maker went through–preservation and re-purposing of life, effort, and handiwork? I guess I can’t argue with that.The picture above will take you to my Etsy shop where you can see some of my vintage-lace-textured pieces.

As always, thanks for reading!

-Rachel

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2 thoughts on “New Patterns from Old Lace

  1. I love what you’re doing! I collect antique textiles and it saddens me to discover these beautiful bits of crochet and lace and a kind of handiwork few people seem to know or do or value.

    Your clay imprints remind me of fossils, where trilobites and coral millions of years gone live on in their imprint on rocks.

  2. Thank you! The more I make handmade, the more I appreciate handmade, especially works of such beauty as can be found tucked away and forgotten like that. I’m woefully ignorant of the art of crocheting, so while I don’t want the art to be lost, I have to help preserve it with what I CAN do. I’m glad you rescue things too!

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