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Transatlantic Doily

Curated Submission
Amsterdam, Netherlands
1934 - 1939
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
Materials & techniques
Cotton; Bobbin lace
Gift of Susanne Sulkers
Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library 2861.00
In the first half of the 20th century, doilies like this one were standard decoration for every coffee and end table, and most were handmade. Some large department stores employed workshops of women to create doilies, antimacassars, and embroideries to order. Customers were presented with a catalogue of available designs and their newly purchased furniture would be decorated accordingly. Countless other women worked making these items in their spare time. This was typically done as piecework, and the craftspeople were paid a small amount for each completed item.
This particular doily was made by the donor’s aunt, Grietje van der Klok, in the late 1930s. She lived in Amsterdam and worked making pieces like this for Holland-America Line cruise ships. Hundreds of doilies were needed to decorate the first-class staterooms on these ships, and this type of production provided a trickle of income for many women like van der Klok. The doily is worked in a variety of techniques: the bodies of the butterflies are needle woven, and their wings are made using a needle lace technique. Van der Klok died of tuberculosis at the age of 19, which makes the skillful execution of this piece all the more impressive. This doily became a treasured and well-used family heirloom, as the careful repairs made by the donor’s mother attest.
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