The Abused Lace Liberation Project

11 07 2009

I mentioned yesterday or the day before that books aren’t the only thing I tend to liberate from abusive situations.  It’s amazing what people will give you if you simply ask.  I have the heart of a restorationist.

My granny used to make lace and I remember sitting with her while she crocheted these delicate little pieces of art.  I love lace and embroidery, but most of the time when I find them, most of it is too mildewed to salvage.
Being lace is normally seen as a formal item, it’s often “put away for something special” then the box is moved and moved and moved again until it ends up in a damp corner of the basement.

I came across several huge stashes of lace a couple of years ago.  I was hunting for antique books out in the country and I met a couple of elderly ladies who made dolls.  I was admiring the dolls and noticed that they had boxes upon boxes of lace stuffed under a table.  I asked about it and they mentioned that most of the dolls had lace on their dresses, but now that their eyesight and ability to hand sew was gone, they just put it away.  I asked if I could buy it from them and they looked at me like I had dropped in from another planet for about 30 seconds.

Then, shockingly enough, they looked at each other and one said “you can have it all for $5.  You just have to carry it out yourself.”  Yes, ma’am.  I got this.  It filled up the entire back cargo area of my Durango, with the 3rd row folded down.  They asked me what I was going to do with it and I told them “I don’t really know yet.  My Granny made lace and I love it, so I’m sure I’ll find something to do with it.”

When I got it all home, I started sorting through it and I did end up throwing out about half of it.  The rest has some very interesting pieces and I’ve used it on different projects.  Most of it though, is really just too special for a hack like me to use up.  While I love textiles and fabric arts, I have about as much talent with it as I do with gardening.

A few days ago, I decided to sort it all out and start selling the more interesting pieces on Etsy as supplies.  There are some very talented people on Etsy and I’d love to see my liberated lace end up on their projects.

I dug it out of where I had stored it (neatly packaged in a dry, safe place) and I’ve been sorting and smoothing and rolling hundreds upon hundreds of feet of lace.  My back and shoulders are KILLING me.  I’m nearly done – I have about 10 lbs of lace to go – but I know one thing.  I’m going to need a database to keep track of all this.  I’ve got about 200 bags of different patterns and colors so far.  It’s amazing. I have handmade pieces, commercially made pieces, some that have been threaded with ribbon, and some that have been laser cut from fabric.  There are some that seem starched flat and some that are so soft they seem to have been made from alpaca yarn.

Here enters my good friend, Excel.  I’m going to need it to inventory all of this with the research and photos and measurements each bag is going to take.  I’m hoping to learn as much about the construction and designs of lacework as I know about book making and restoration.  Well, maybe more like the amount I know about china and depression glass (which is just enough to keep myself out of trouble with Grandma.)

This should be fun.  If anything, it will free up that storage space for books…

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