Last year, I applied to the Heritage Community Association’s Good Neighbour Community Grant, with the idea that I would work with my neighbours using their family doilies to doily-bomb the trees in their yards. The intention was to display the tradition and artistry held in these family doilies, instead of having them stored in a drawer or box where no one gets to see or appreciate them. Further, I had hoped that as we doily-bombed together we could share stories about who made the doilies and discuss the intricate designs.
Like most of my art projects, the process deviated a little from what I had first proposed. For example, I had grossly underestimated the size of the trees in our neighbourhood! We have some seriously big trees. So the collection part of the process took a little longer than expected. But, we got there. A call was put out via the Heritage Community Association’s Facebook page, and people did not disappoint. Heritage residents were very generous and forthcoming with their family’s traditions.
In November of 2018, I finally got to Doily-Bombing the first tree on the corner of St. John’s Street and 15th Ave. – a great location since it’s aligned with the south side doors of the General Hospital and there is lots of traffic and exposure.
No exaggeration, I am sure I talked to fifty people in the first few hours of the project. And then I lost track of how many after that. So many people stopped their cars as they passed by, rolled down their windows, asked what I was doing, and then told me “good job” or some other accolade. Basically all of the foot traffic stopped to talk, and those conversations ended up having the most depth and consideration. As predicted, many shared stories about the doilies stored in their homes. They’d get nostalgic and tell of an Aunt or Grandma’s nightly dedication to these crafted mathematic traditions. A couple people even told me they were going to go home and do the same – “sew them together, and cover the front evergreens” one woman said. People from the hospital even came over to talk. They said they could see me from the south side windows and wanted to take a closer look.
I got half the tree done before the winter weather set in. Once Spring comes I’ll bring out the long ladder again and continue up the tree. So, if you see me, please stop and chat. I look forward to hearing more of my neighbours’ great stories of their family traditions.