Talent Scout

Doily Armour

An exhibition at the Minneapolis Walker Art Center featured one of my favorite artists, Kiki Smith.  A bronze piece titled Cells—The Moon, captured my attention as it reminded me of antique doilies.

Kiki Smith, Cells--The Moon, 1996

A year later, going through a box of my mom’s stuff I found an assortment of old doilies. I’m told that at one time doilies were considered so important that young women were expected to have at least ten ready for marriage, carefully stored in a hope chest. Quizzing my single, 87 year old aunt about this she exclaimed, “that must have been where I went wrong.”

Doilies have family stories, history and at one time, had usefulness. I wanted to honor previous generations of women and give their lost craft a fresh perspective. Creating a piece that that I deemed interesting, worthy and meaningful was my vision.  My ambitious plan was to sculpt a female torso out of doilies however to accomplish this, I needed more doilies.  A few calls to my over eighty year old friends and family and soon doilies started arriving in recycled envelopes and plastic baggies. I laughed at one delivery which had a special request, ” if you don’t use these, I want them back.”

Marilyn Stevens, Doily Armour, 2009

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