The Last Lace

July 9, 2015

I noticed the sheet, then I spied her.

Che bella linzuola, Signora!” What beautiful linen!

She took a deep puff of the cigarette and smiled. “It is I who have made it.” Her throat sounded sandy.

“Is that what you do? Make bed linens?”

Una volta,” she said, with another smile. Once upon a time.

“Not anymore?” (I want one.)

She took another puff. “No, non piu, no more. This is the last one I have.”

And then she agreed to a portrait.

sicilian woman with sheet, copyright Jann Huizenga


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24 comments to The Last Lace

  • John Schinina

    Hi Jann, Coming to beautiful Ragusa Ibla in Oct, love to meet you for an espresso, Ciao

  • I love your vignettes – a whole story in a paragraph and photo. Brilliant! xox

  • Such a poignant photo Jann. You have captured the beauty, the sadness, the irony, the willfulness of Sicily all in one amazingly moving photo. I love your work so! xx

  • dennis

    good news/ beautiful lace work. bad news spent 1700 on custom drapes did not know she was a smoker. House smelled like an ashtray goodwill got some nice drapes

  • So sad that such beauty is going by the wayside, Jann. My late grandma used to do crochet — gorgeous, intricate work that she regularly gifted others with — and I’m preserving as many pieces as I can get my grubby hands on! This lovely lady reminds me of Sicily — her face is strong and her manner just a bit defiant!! Thank you for capturing her!

    • Jann

      Debbie, you’re right that there’s something strong/fierce about her & about Sicily. Thanks for your comment!

  • Now all of the lacework comes from China and is not of the same quality. You can often pick up beautiful old napkins at Brocante sales here in France. I buy them whenever I can.

  • —I love when you take me to Sicily!
    Such a lovely photo! She is the epitome of Italy!!

    xx kiss from MN.

  • Oh my gosh – kidnap her until she agrees to make you one!! It truly is beautiful. So many things are lost as generations pass. That is why I love so many vintage things, as a reminder when people used to take the time to make true beauty.

    • Jann

      Ah, you’re so right, Nan. When I look at the modern “industrial zones” in Sicily and compare them with the beauty of the little towns, the contrast is absolutely appalling.

  • Diana

    Look out for vintage linens and lace in Sicilian markets. Sometimes they come from Holland or Germany but they are beautiful, handmade and precious. I have many pieces which I’m keeping or give as gifts.

    • Jann

      Diana, I’ve found some old lace items like pillowcases and small tablecloths in the Wednesday Vizzini market–they were selling each item for 1 euro apiece.

  • Toni

    My grandmother used to make beautiful linens like that. Unfortunately she did not pass the skills down to us. It seems to be a lost art.

    • Jann

      One of the many arts being lost in Sicily, Toni, including puppets, furniture, real old-fashioned ricotta and on and on. Though there are some arts that are booming, like wine-making!

  • Robert

    Veramente “Rausana!”

  • Sam

    I like how the wistful tone of this story and photo is counterbalanced by the image of a grinning Bugs Bunny!

  • Nancy

    Love the old linens too. That signora’s is beautiful. It’s probably a lost art. The young ones are too busy working to carry on the tradition.

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