How to Make a Lace Snowflake

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HereÂ’s how an antimacassar (a lace doily, often affixed to the arms and backs of overstuffed chairs, in bygone eras) can be made into a lace ornament for a Christmas tree. At a crafts store, buy a bottle of stiffening agent. Lay some waxed paper on a table, put the antimacassar on top, and paint the stiffening agent on both sides of it. Let it dry on the waxed paper (and wash the stiffening agent out of your brush!) When itÂ’s dry, it will hang perfectly flat. A small paperclip, unbended into an S shape, makes a good hanger for it.

My friend Randy Carnefix explained how these doilies got their peculiar name. A century ago, many men used an oily hair dressing made in Makassar, Indonesia, from coconut or palm fruit oil, perfumed with essential oil of frangipani (plumeria) blossoms. In an effort to protect their appolstered chairs from the greasy heads and fingers of men thus groomed, housekeepers began placing lace or embroidered pieces of cloth on the backs and arms of their chairs. When styles changed, the antimacassars began to show up in thrift shops.  That’s where I found the ones hanging on my tree.