Monday, March 31, 2008

Confection By The Inch

As an antique textile appraiser I have the priviledge of gathering snippets of lace that have been hidden away for years and brought forth once again to be enjoyed.

Though I cherish the early European needle and bobbin laces the ones shown here best demonstrate the type I refer to as humble immigrant lace.

Tucked inside of trunks, folded neatly in a satchel or stuffed into a carpet bag these laces and their patterns came to America with the early settlers.

Sometimes named air-lace because unlike bobbin or needle they are made in the air with the help of nimble fingers, a needle, hairpin or crochet hook.

Irish crochet worn by royalty and the gentry arrived with the families escaping the potato famine of the early 1800's. Tatting crossed the continent in covered wagons. Hairpin and knitted lace were the topic of conversation in many a fancy parlor along the east coast.

And while the luscious Continental laces were coveted, smuggled and paid a king's ransom for, these little confections by the inch made their way across the ocean and into our hearts.

Cabinet - Bunny by Christine Crocker (Deerfield Farmhouse), lace on spools awaiting folkart dollmakers, seamstress' and collectors.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Vision of White

'Oh to watch them flutter in the light spring breeze
Beneath the sun's warming rays
Cause me to dream of the babes they clothed
Alas, in the bygone days...'

Pictured is a gathering of late Victorian and early Edwardian infant dresses out for a brisk spring airing.

I collect the gowns from various sources throughout the year. In the early spring they are hand washed and hung on the line to flutter in a gentle zephyr and dance in the sunlight.

Made from delicate fabrics; soft nansook, fine lawn, French flannelette and silk overlay these dainty frocks once adorned newborns to tots.

The long dresses are luscious in trims and lace. Some are exquisite in their fine pin-tucks or feather boning and insertion lace. Hems and bodices rich in broderie anglaise take one's breath away.

Some are used in creative projects while others are sold for display in a nursery, sewing nook or treasured for their intimate connection with our past.

If I close my eyes for just a moment, I believe I hear the coos and giggles of the wee bairns whose lily white limbs frolicked beneath the gossamer fabric.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


This past Tuesday my daughter underwent surgery. Jackie is now home and on the road to recovery. Spending hours in waiting rooms, hospital rooms and running back and forth has given me the opportunity to realize how very fortunate we are.

I'd like to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Spring, Joyful Easter and may your Easter basket be filled with love (and a little chocolate!)

And my heartfelt thank you to all those brave men and women fighting in a war zone and to their families and loved ones spending yet another holiday waiting for their safe return.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Heart's Content

'Within in us lies a secret garden.'

Nurtured from childhood through the written word and illustrations of Beatrix Potter, we were indulged in the adventures of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny in Mr. McGregor's garden.

The beloved tale by Frances Hodson Burnett of 'The Secret Garden' took us through a weathered gate, unlocked by a hidden key, to a small walled place of beauty covered by rambling roses and trailing brambles. We became absorbed in solving the mystery of an overgrown paradise that time and sadness had forgot.

Some enjoy a manicured lawn with perfectly shaped evergreens and trimmed boxwood, guiding us through its chambers dotted with benches to rest upon.

Urban communities have come to realize the tranquility enjoyed from a garden. An abandoned lot once strewn with garbage is turned into a haven where neighbors meet. Flowers, fruits and vegetables are shared amongst those that tilled the earth, planted the seeds, prayed for rain and waited.

A garden need not be a broad expanse of soil bedecked in flowers and fruit. It can exist simply on a hillside where wild daises dot the lush green grasses that sway in the prairie breeze.

For those with limited space a window box can suffice.They are lush with blooms that stir the heart and calm the soul. Many a balcony or rooftop are home to a profusion of color provided by carefully arranged pots.

Others are perfectly placed to be enjoyed from a rocker set on the porch, where the heavenly scent can encourage one to linger well into the evening.

For me it is that space just beyond the window, still covered in snow. Soon the crocus' will spring forth, the birdsong will become a symphony and I will sit 'till my heart's content in the sweetness of my secret garden.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


'One must face death in order to cherish life.'

The topic of death for some is morbid and not one they wish to discuss. For others that do genealogy, research provenance on antiques, etc. it is part of the journey.

To the Victorians it was recognized, symbolized and honored. Death was such a stark reality from birth that the 18th and 19th centuries found ways to cope with and endure one's passing.

Queen Victoria herself upon the death of her beloved Prince Albert, made it fashionable and respectful. She paid homage to him by wearing widow's weeds (mourning clothes) for the rest of her life. So sacred was he to her that on her deathbed the Queen's face was draped in the Honiton lace veil she had worn on her wedding day. It remained with her into the afterlife.

A lock of hair from a child or a lover was often placed in a locket and worn close to the heart. Postmortem tintypes or miniatures were also commonplace, allowing one's image to be remembered forever.

Buttons, jewelry, hair ornaments, sewing kits all made in shades of black were worn and used out of respect for the period of time that society had deemed.

In today's world we are not restricted by such protocol. We do though honor, cherish and love forever those who have gone before us.

Shown above: Mourning mirror 1866, hair jewelry(brooch), Victorian memorial dome with stuffed birds and locks of childrens' hair tied with silk ribbon. All from my personal collection.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


As I await the arrival of spring and the reawakening of life that lies beneath the blanket of snow I have come to realize that it is a celebration that has been since the beginning of time.

The snow warmed by the sunshine begins to fall into little droplets. As the melting continues, the moisture travels across the cool earth and joins to create a brook. The daffodils start to unfurl along the water's edge as the moss turns a vibrant green.

Soon the spring rains shall come and flow into the rivers that meander across the valleys. A chill wind will still blow but the fragrance that fills the air will be fresh.

Blossoms will bloom in dainty pinks and delicate whites, sharing their fragrance with the bees.

Life will revive from its winter's slumber and spring will be born again...