Friday, August 24, 2012

Textile Friday: Oxford, North Carolina Lace Factories

         Many people don't know, but up until the 1970s, North Carolina was a major lace producing area of the country. I find lace machines fascinating because they were some of the earliest textile machines invented that fueled the industrial revolution. Unfortunately, many of these beautiful machines were gutted by the medical industry in the 1990s in their failed attempts to try and produce living tissue and blood vessels from these beautiful pieces of art.
         Thankfully if you ever head to the sleepy town of Oxford, NC you can see two awesome survivors of this gut: Heritage Lace and Macra Lace. There's also the amazing abandoned Scranton Lace factory in Asheville, NC that closed in 2002 which supposedly is full of looms and equipment still. The Tribune did a wonderful video of it in January which I have enjoyed watching many times. I love lace. With the upcoming wedding, I find myself drawn to leather and lace more and more this season. Spools of lace have started popping up all over the studio. I am afraid Nash is being an incredibly good sport about the whole thing as I have started designing my own wedding corset and undergarments which dear reader you are thankfully saved from most of the Bridezilla effect by hardest self-control(I'm trying my very hardest not to gush too much.). Please forgive me if September the blog is full of chocolate cake tastings, piles of blue silk, and wedding invitations. Speaking of, does anyone know when invites are actually supposed to go out? I've been putting off and putting off hand labeling all those suckers, but the task is dancing on the horizon.
            Oh well, back to lace. The first lace factory is Heritage Lace which you can find locally at Southern Seasons in Chapel Hill. This is a family owned and operated business based on traditional European fine lace from Dutch Lace Farmers which includes an in-house design team so you can request custom lace designs on the fly. Free shipping, a newsletter you can sign-up for, and great end of the season sales. My favorite is a current lace dynasty shawl on sale for a mere $13.00. Yes, I am looking for a reason to buy it. One of the things that often surprises people is that Made In the US direct from factories is often the same price or less as Made in China. Department stores and retailers today with the exception of Amazon tend to take a lion's share of the profits around 80% from the total leaving 20% for the actual goods in question. Why not save the money and get yourself something worth keeping as a heirloom? Factory direct from your iPhone is a great way to shop these days.
             The other store up the street is Macralace which you can buy believe it or not off eBay. There's almost 3,000 items in the shop which I find overwhelming, but if you enter a specific search for lace it rapidly narrows down the selection to beauties like this. The two companies have comparable price points. These two companies are also a good example of the two strategies being employed by textiles companies in the race for the online marketplace. Setting up a killer website or using a popular service. I still haven't decided which is better. I love both of them and it's wonderful that we have such lovely textile supply companies within driving distance. The only thing I ever have to go out of state for is silk and I'm looking to drop that from my design menu next year if possible. Everything else made not just in the US, but made in our fair North Carolina. May your days be sunny and filled with beauty. And if you are also a lace hound like me, go check these guys out.

Hopefully see everyone at the Etsy Craft Party tonight at 7 pm.

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