lace bombing

It being near the end of my retrospective exhibition “Once Upon a Stitch” at the Cape Cod Museum of Art, I thought I’d squeeze in a post about how I “lace bombed” a pole in the gallery with doilies and other lacy items from my stash.
Carloads of visitors have been flocking to see the show before its last day on Sunday, Jan. 26th. If you’re thinking of making the trip, please note that the museum is open Thursday 10 am – 7 pm, Friday – Saturday 10 am – 4 pm, Sunday 12 noon – 4 pm. 

When I first checked out the gallery and saw the plain white column in the middle of the room, I thought,”How unfortunate, but maybe this is an opportunity waiting to happen.” To me, displaying artwork and decorating a space for an exhibition is like a piece of art in itself. On the drive home, I came up with the idea of covering the pole with lace and doilies in the spirit of yarn bombing.

My collection of lace and linen was passed down in the family or was given to me by people who were trying to find homes for their relative’s stuff. As the pile grows, I keep thinking that I’ll use some of it my artwork, but lace rarely matches my vision. The exception is a doily that I dyed green for the “Ring Around the Rosie” illustration in Pocketful of Posies.

Doily used in a illustration from Pocketful of Posies

After finding out the pole’s height and circumference, I unpacked my stash of doilies, lace and antimacassars, and laid them out on my work table.

This project didn’t require any fussy hand-stitching, so I dusted off my sewing machine and plugged it in. I pinned together rows of doilies and sewed the overlapping edges with the zig-zag stitch.

I wanted the covering to be one piece that could be easily installed. A large piece of green felt left over from my fairy kit days seemed like a good background fabric, with just enough contrast to show off the delicate lace patterns. Then I pinned the rows of doilies and lace to the felt and sewed them in place. Since I don’t use a sewing machine very often, it was fun to push the peddle and go!

When it came time to install the exhibition in the gallery, I wrapped the column with the felt and lace cover and pinned it in place. Then I finished it of with a simple whip stitch along the seam, which was the only hand stitching on the whole project. I even remembered to bring my trusty thimble, which I feel naked without!

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19 thoughts on “lace bombing

  1. Salley – this is so creative- and wonderful use of your stash. Wish I knew what to do with mine! The next question – what will you do with it after you remove it from the museum? Build a fake column in your house or studio and rewrap it?

      • How amazingly creative! My mind went to the same place, what to do with it afterwards. It would make a gorgeous curtain/statement piece if you have just the right window.

  2. What a great idea for a basement craft/sewing area, since those spaces frequently have those less then beautiful supports.

  3. Oh, Sally…I used to think you were a wondrous artist. Now I know you are a plain old GENUIS! I would so love to see that show. But it’s just not my destiny this life time. Congratulations, on the success of it. And, Happy 2020, to you; the year the sleeping book comes out…right? I cannot wait!!

  4. I love your introduction of “lace bombing”! As someone who has crocheted & tatted lace doilies, as well as inherited handmade doilies created by female ancestors, I know how precious they are. And I admit, I would have difficulty letting go of those that I had inherited. The creativity, & time, involved in their creation make them a unique form of art, often taken for granted (or dismissed as just “needlework” done by women with too much time on their hands). Doilies & other forms of lace, while not exclusively created by women, in the West have been largely seen as a woman’s craft. But these are also functional works of art. I applaud your use of them at your exhibit. I really hope that you “lace bomb” again & again. Not only for the beauty it brings, but also as an acknowledgement/recognition of a largely under-appreciated art form.

  5. Well, clearly the solution is not to undo all you have done, but keep it – by creating for yourself an ephemeral pillar to be wrapped around by the wondrous display you have created of the work of others, any time you have people over for tea on the porch, in the garden, down by the seaside or riverside – or in every exhibition from now on? You could store it wrapped and hung from my roof, if you had my roof (no ceiling).
    I am using the word “ephemeral” in the scientific sense used for streams that come and go, dependent on thunderstorms, or simply dry summers followed by wet winters, as we have here…
    Maybe forget the pillar, and have the lace panel wave in the breeze as a shade curtain (hung from the washing’s drying line) while your guests sip their tea and nibble at their cakes, and smile at each others’ ephemeral facial tattoos (leaving the green felt background in its cupboard to let the sunshine through, dappling all with a lacy shadow dance…

  6. Oh what a clever and well done solution!! congratulations on this wonderful accomplishment (the show). It is a culmination of many hours of imagining and then bringing those imaginings to fruition. You are incredible and I’m so sorry to have missed your show.

  7. Salley! My husband and I were at the Museum on Sunday for the opening of the Interiors show, and afterwards drifted into the room where your show was having its final day (it must have been Kismet!). I can’t say that stitchery has ever been a major interest of mine – but one peek and I knew what I was seeing was something special! Both compositionally and thematically these were way above the usual children’s book fare. And gorgeous! I couldn’t get away from them! I was a captive six-year-old again!
    Of course I had to check it out online – a RISD grad – not surprising. Then I saw Liberty and Justice and was blown away! Your work is amazing! I can’t wait to see what comes next!
    Brava, brava, brava!
    Rob – Provincetown

    • Thank you so much for writing, Rob. I loved reading about your experience in the gallery. I’ve spent my whole career showing people a new way to think of needlework. It seems that you’ve come away with a different understanding of what is possible with a needle and thread, so my goal is met!

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