Lovely readers, what do you know about lace edging on shelves? I've taken a recent interest in this topic, and here's why:
Ever since Caroline from Caroline's Clothing left me a comment on one of my recent posts about how she loves edging like this on vitrines and cabinets with glass doors and actually reproduced this effect on the buffet in her kitchen, I've been scouring the internet to find out more about this tradition.
(Caroline, to answer your question, this photo was taken in a local antique store. I snapped this picture to remind my future self to try this out if I ever get the right cabinet!)
|From the calendar "Aus Großmutters Küche" by Christa Versley, Korsch Verlag|
But it seems very little has been written on this topic! So I'm going to offer every bit of knowledge I've acquired about decorating shelf edges, and in exchange, I would love to hear anything you know about this topic! (See the end of this post for more details.)
Apparently shelf decorations can take two forms:
- lace or a ruffle is used to be tacked or glued onto the edge of a shelf in a cabinet or closet ("shelf edging" or "shelf trim")
- a shelf is covered with a cloth that ends with a bit of lace or a ruffle that hangs off the side ("shelf lining" or sometimes also "shelf trim")
Shelf Edging / Shelf Trim
|Doll shelf from Rapunzel Minis|
The oldest variety of edgings to be tacked onto the edge of a shelf were strips of cloth lace, as with the first photo in this post, the photo above, and the one directly below.
|Available in Europe on eBay|
|Source: Jans Minis|
Isn't the china hutch for a dollhouse picture above just delightful? I found this picture at Jans Minis, where you can go to buy the knitting pattern for this miniature lace.
Some modern manufacturers aim to recreate this aesthetic with vinyl "lace" that can adheres easily onto a shelf edge, as in this example:
|Source: Eastlake Victorian blog|
Some creative crafters have come up with another way of decorating shelf edges in a similar way using paper trim cut to look like lace:
|Source: Just Something I Made|
Apparently this idea is not so new after all! Fran Manos from Something for (almost) Nothing posted her experiments with making paper lace edging in a blog entry I highly recommend reading. She starts off with a quote taken from "From the Banks of Plum Creek" by Laura Ingalls Wilder that is so appropriate to this topic that I would like to include it here:
...Ma brought out two long strips of brown wrapping-paper that she had saved. She folded them, and she showed Mary and Laura how to cut tiny bits out of the folded paper with the scissors. When each unfolded her paper, there was a row of stars.
Ma spread the paper on the shelves behind the stove. The stars hung over the edges of the shelves, and the light shone through them.
|Source: Something for (almost) Nothing|
Doda from Doda's Creative Wanderings uses a somewhat simpler but nevertheless attractive method to make her paper shelf edging: decorative paper punches. The result is quite attractive:
|Source: Doda's Creative Wanderings|
Lace isn't the only ornament used for shelf edges. Take a close look at this picture of a linen closet in a New York apartment from 1925. Notice how cloth ruffles are used instead of lace?
|Source: Museum of the City of New York, via Pretty Little Houses|
Many of the examples of ruffled shelf edging I've come across online are of the vinyl variety and appear to date to around the 50s, like these:
|Available at itsybitsandpieces's Etsy Store|
|Available at kmichel's Etsy Store|
|Available at IndulgeYourShelf's Etsy Store (love that name!)|
|Available at SherryAnney's Etsy Store|
You can also find decorative bands with patterns that attach to the edge of a shelf in lieu of true lace or a ruffle, like this from the Swedish designer Lotta Kühlhorn, available at Curiouser and Curiouser:
|Available at Curiouser and Curiouser|
And check out this original packaging for a paper shelf edging band, taken from the delightful blog The Kitchy Collector Home of C. Diane Zweig:
|Source: C. Diane Zweig|
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Shelf Lining / Shelf Trim
Lace shelf decorations could also be attached to a cloth shelf liner. This piece of plain fabric was as wide as the shelf itself, such that the lace sewn onto one of the edges would hang attractively over the side of your cabinet shelf.
|Source: Cabin & Cottage|
|Available at HarrietsDaughter's Etsy Store|
Another type of shelf liner has an edge that ends not in lace, but in a ruffle cut directly into the cloth itself and embroidered.
|Available at MiLady's Vintage Linens|
|Beautiful Art Nouveau shelf lining Recently sold on eBay|
As with the shelf edging above, shelf liners need not be made of cloth. Here is what looks to be a 1970s take on this tradition using paper instead of fabric.
|Paper shelf lining available at 1 Stop Retro Shop|
A question for you
Yes, I know more about shelf trim now than when I began researching this topic. (And hopefully you do, too!) But many questions remain unanswered: When did this tradition begin? Is it more of an Old World custom, or was it in widespread use in the New World as well? When did it start to fall out of fashion?
That last question should not imply that shelf trimming is totally unheard of today. Careyann from Pretty Little Houses includes some examples of lace shelf liners and edgings in modern magazines like Martha Stewart and Country Living in her post on linen closets. Still, I strongly suspect this decorative technique was in more widespread use in previous decades.
So, my lovely readers, I will ask you when and where have you encountered shelf trimming. What do you associate it with? Have you ever tried to put edging on your own furniture, and if so, how did it turn out?