Turning Grandma’s vintage crocheted doilies into wall art.
I have fond memories of visiting my grandmother and uncle. My parents, brother, sister and I would drive from Long Island to Columbus, Ohio just about every Christmas break. Grandma always had an assortment of delicious homemade cookies ready for us when we arrived and the holiday meal always came with fruit suspended in green jello. My uncle would take us to the A&W for a root beer float and we would play ping pong in the basement and canasta in the living room. My brother usually won the ping pong and canasta games. He was always good at all types of games. I remember my grandmother teaching my sister how to sew and her showing me how to make french knots. I also remember all the doilies. My grandmother had them all over the house. She had many Dresden dolls (I always called them “Lacy Ladies”), Hummel figurines, and other collectibles. Each was placed upon a doily. These doilies are some of my earliest memories of crochet. Although I’m sure I didn’t realize how they were made, I remember I always loved the beautiful lace and symmetry of them.
My grandmother passed away in 2003 (98 yrs old!). My uncle continued to live in the family home until he passed in 2008. And when he passed it was time to clear out the house. In doing so, we all brought home items that were special to us. One of the items I kept was a collection of doilies. Ever since I have been wanting to do something with them but not sure what. My home isn’t the doily and figurine type so I knew it would have to be a project. Eventually I figured out I would frame the doilies and display them as art.
Not only is this project special because it is a reminder of the good times with my grandmother and uncle but it is also a reminder of my brother. When I graduated from college (1991) he let me live with him for three months while I completed a management training program. I’m sure that wasn’t the most exciting thing for him, having his little sister crashing in his new duplex, but we made it work. And it was a huge help to me as I didn’t know where I would be transferred to once I completed the training program and therefore did not want to commit to a lease. While I was living with him, I started collecting items for my future apartment in the corner of the room where I slept. The pile grew as I often stopped by yard sales on the weekends. One of my purchases was a framed print. I moved that print to my first apartment in Elmira and to many other apartments after that. Eventually the print faded but I always kept it because I loved the wood frame. This is the frame I used in the project. Seeing it reminds me of my brother and his generosity to open his home to me. It is a reminder of how important family is and of how we need to make time for each other. My brother passed away in July, 2019. He was only 57.
So, how did I make it? First I cleaned up the glass and revived the wood frame with Old English wood polish. I spent about a week trying to figure out how I would make the background. My original thought was to purchase a solid framing mat but with the COVID-19 pandemic, the local framing store was closed and my shopping options were very limited. I looked at poster board online and even thought about painting cardboard for the background. Then, on my essential once-a-week-outing of shopping for food and supplies at Walmart, I took a quick look in the craft section and found a pre-cut section of beautiful blue knit fabric for $2!! It was perfect. I selected nine doilies from the collection to be displayed. Seven are crocheted, one is knit and one I believe is tatted. The doilies were steamed flat, placed in position, and voila!, beautiful crocheted wall art.
I didn’t start crocheting until a year or two after my grandmother passed. It saddens me that I didn’t get to share this craft with her. My grandmother was extremely talented in crafts and could sew just about anything. Years ago I had asked my uncle if Grandma crocheted and he could only remember her making an afghan. My father doesn’t remember either. So I’m not sure if my grandmother made the doilies or if they were given to her by friends or other family members. But I do know they are beautiful and bring comfort of warm family memories when I look at them. The total cost of this project was less than $6 (fabric, hanging hardware and poster board to seal the back), but to me, it is priceless. It is a beautiful reminder of childhood memories and of family who are no longer with us.