The Work of our Mothers' Hands

January 2nd - April 30th, 2008


Slide Show

Until the present technological era,
threads were part of every girl's basic education.
The threads worked by women provided the necessities of life
in the form of clothing,
and the needle was more important than the pen.

Once the basic requirements of clothing were satisfied, the same threads could be used to decorate our homes and our bodies. The tools used to manipulate threads extended beyond spindle, loom, and needle to include the crochet hook, knitting needles, tatting and netting shuttles. Hand-stitched quilts kept the family warm at night, decorative edgings personalized towels and bed linens. Skilled and loving hands recycled worn clothing, and leftover threads reflected a mother's personality and demonstrated her talent. And all this was just part of everyday life. As comfort entered our world and there was time for pleasure, women's hands would turn the readily available threads into the projects dictated by the latest ladies' magazines and pattern books. These were our mothers' hands and they were precious, carrying their souls into their work and on to the generations that would follow after.

Today we only remember those things, some made by our mothers and more made by our grandmothers. We reflect on those days when comfort reigned in the objects that carried the spirit of the maker, a woman we knew and loved. It might be a handkerchief with our name embroidered in the corner, or a potholder made from yarn left over from the sweater that kept us warm at school, or the doilies and antimacassars that not only decorated our homes but could be rationalized, as they served the purpose of preserving the furniture for another generation. As we see these pieces we reflect on those days with warm memories of loving hands that worked tirelessly to make our homes beautiful and cozy and ours.

In today's disposable world, few remnants remain. As we come across them in attic or old trunk, we are puzzled and don't quite know what to do with them. Not quite heirlooms, and no longer serving a useful purpose, and certainly not in tune with our hi-tech decor, they serve only as the repository of memories.

As we exhibit these pieces, our intent is to evoke the memories of comfort and perhaps to bring a new significance to these pieces, so that they might find a place in your world today, perhaps as the new heirloom.

Some pieces can simply be framed and hung on a wall as would be a picture of a loved one. Others can be recycled into something useful and decorative, something of which you can say with pride: "My grandma made this."

A doily can become a purse, or an embellishment for jeans or jacket. With the addition of a handful of beads it can become a decorative jar cover, or it can be starched and hung on a holiday tree...not to be disposed of, but a part of your heritage that will live on in the next generation.

Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles