Hello! I purchased this doily from you and I love it so much! I was wondering if you could tell me anything about who made it, or where it came from? Any information you can give me would be wonderful. 

Many thanks to you, 

-Melissa is a web-based textile collection and correspondence project I started in 2018 wherin I purchase vintage doilies on EBay, then message the sellers to find out any information they may have about who made them and where they came from. I then photograph each piece in a formal setting, and post the image on Instagram, along with the seller's response.

Most Ebay sellers aren't aware of the origins of a particular piece, having purchased them at auctions or antique markets or thrift stores, often in large lots. Some sellers though, tell me of their grandmothers and great aunts and neighbors who have recently passed. In those relatively rare cases, there is a moment of potential intervention - a sort of tether established between the buyer (me) and the emotionally connected seller - before the history, and tactile memory of each object is permanently lost. Sometimes, if a seller attended a family estate sale, there is a connection once-removed, wherein I or someone else could potentially seek out the family of the maker.

Often, the history of each doily sold in the vast online markets of Ebay has been long absorbed into the ether of the vintage resale market, where objects with once deeply felt personal meaning and high emotional value are relegated to meaningless ones, with low to almost no monetary value. One can justifiably question whether emotional value should even translate to the eventual consumer pricetag, especially when the object is several times removed from its origin - but what of labor, of craftsmanship, of art?

Again and again, the tiresome inquiry around traditional textile arises - why is work associated with women's labor, practised expertise, and tacit knowlege of material and craft undervalued in all respects? When we look at this work under a formal lens, through photography - rather than the piled, wrinkled mass a bin at an antique store - we can see just how intricate, labor-intensive, masterful, historic, and beautiful these objects are. We can see the hand of the maker in every line, and the care and love that went into them. Even if the maker is long gone. Even, if we don't know who they were in the first place.