Sunday, December 07, 2008

Doilies: Love 'em or Hate 'em

I'm not really a "frilly" sort of person, so I suppose that it's silly that I spend every free moment making lots and lots of lovely laces that I rarely use. I have made a lot of tatted doilies, but most of them I have given away to various deserving people. I am fortunate to come from a very loving family who appreciate all of the hand made articles I have given them. I DO make extra effort to create things worthy of appreciation and I believe that most of what I make fits into the art rather than craft category. Although I know that in the hands of a skilled person pasta stuck on a styrofoam base and spray painted in gold, could be very artistic, my hands are not that skilled. So I stay with the fibre arts where I know what I bring to the table is a modicum of skill and a large dose of patience which usually produces artful results.

I have seen recently an abundance of comments about doilies being old fashioned and out of keeping with today's modern decorating trends, which may very well be true. When you consider the Victorian era where decorative flair enjoyed it's heyday, you also had an assortment of beautiful and irreplaceable wooden tables, desks, sideboards and hutches which were easily marked with water or the placement of heavy, rough objects on their shiny surfaces. It was much better to protect these delicate surfaces with ornate laces that to suffer scratches on a tabletop or water stains on a piano.

The men of that day liberally applied Macassar oil to their hair in the same way that people today would use mousse and hair gel. The oil often left stains on the woven fabric of upholstered chairs and sofas which, unlike our present furniture, was not easily cleaned. To avoid permanently stained fabric, lace pieces were created to fit over the back of the furniture. Additional lace pieces were created to protect upholstered arms from wear, so that you often see patterns for sets of anti-macassars. These lace pieces, although beautiful in their own right, were essentially rags (pretty "rags", but rags none the less) used to protect valuable pieces of delicate furniture.
Fast forward to today and take a look around your own living space. Most dinnerware is stored in a kitchen cupboard, not in a mahogany china cabinet, The tables are often covered by sheets of shatter proof glass negating the need for any other protection. The piano has been replaced by an entertainment centre made out of plastic which requires no protection from watermarks and scratches. Modern hair care products don't leave greasy splotches on upholstery and even the furniture itself is said to have a "life span"

So do doilies and the like serve a purpose in our modern environment? Most emphatically YES! Doilies give a splash of colour, an element of interest, and a feeling of hom-i-ness to a sterile environment. We don't use them with the same abandon of the Victorian era, but doilies still have a roll to play in decorating our homes. Since they are no longer just rags used to protect more valuable pieces, it is all the more important that the doilies we use be especially beautiful, and particularly well executed. An assortment of doilies lets you give a quick lift to the room just by changing the lace on display. You could hide them behind glass like the art they are, but how much better to lay them out on a table and change them with the seasons.

So which are you? Doily lover, or doily hater?


TattingChic said...

Those are some pretty doilies you have pictured. I use little doilies for coasters to prevent water rings...just like in the "olden days", LOL!

snowy said...

I love doilies, just for the aesthetics of the design. Like mandalas, they are satisfying to look at.
(But my german friend told me that when she was living in Scotland a cruel person told her that doily was the colloquial english for a sanitary towel, which caused her a few problems as you can imagine. So I always smile when I think of doilies now...)

Lace-lovin' Librarian - Diane said...

I'm a doily lover! I believe, as you do, that little bits of lace give a lift to any room. Thanks for your wonderful post!

Clyde said...

Wonderful post Sharon. I hope it makes people take a serious look at doilies as I think they are beautiful.They do not have to be like your Grandma had especially with todays designs and HDT. The possibillities are endles and they really can provide the finishing touch to a room.

***Jon**** said...

I love doilies. If not for the very long time it takes to finish one, I would be tatting more doilies than I have.

LadyShuttleMaker aka MadMadPotter said...

I love this post Sharon, and I certainly learned new and interesting facts. I remember seeing doilies on the chairbacks and armrests in my great grannies house. I love (yes I admit it) doilies and have a completely different use for them....I frame them and use them as art!

AnneB said...

Lovely doilies! I love making doilies but seldom use them.

ancolie said...

I'm a doily lover! but I don't use them at home : they are in a little box !
thanks for your interessant post.
ancolie (France)

Iris Niebach said...

I don't know where to put in my home all the doilies a make, beside they take dust and need care. But...I love the geometrie of doilies, I love to look at them, I love to make them, sometimes I sell some, mostly I give them away for gift. I often discuss with persones on exhibitions about doilies, because here in Italy you never see even one furnither or nice home magazin with doilies in it, and a lot of persons say to me, that they don't like doilies. I remain perplexed and unable to transmit my love for doilies but...times will come back.

Art by JoyMac said...

You have some lovely doilies here and I love tatting them myself ....I dont think they have gone out of fashion at all.....well not for me anyway...keep up the great work
Joy in OZ