Early bobbin lace in gold and silver thread, c. 1570.
Contemporary hand made woollen bobbin lace articles, Wool Expo, Armidale NSW. Pale green lace is made of 2 ply wool.
Bobbin lace evolved from passementerie or braid-making in 16th century Italy. Coarse passements of gold and silver-wrapped threads or colored silks gradually became finer, and later bleached linen yarn was used to make both braids and edgings.
The making of bobbin lace was easier to learn than the elaborate cutwork of the 16th century, and the tools and materials for making linen bobbin lace were inexpensive. There was a ready market for bobbin lace of all qualities, and women throughout Europe soon took up the craft which earned a better income than spinning, sewing, weaving or other home-based textile arts. Bobbin lace-making was established in charity schools, almshouse, and convents..
In the 17th century, the textile centers of Flanders and Normandy eclipsed Italy as the premiere sources for fine bobbin lace, but until the coming of mechanization hand-lacemaking continued to be practiced throughout Europe, suffering only in those periods of simplicity when lace itself fell out of fashion..
Bobbin lace may be made with coarse or fine threads. Traditionally it was made with linen, silk, wool, or, later, cotton threads, or with precious metals. Today it is made with a variety of natural and synthetic fibers and with wire and other filaments.
Elements of later bobbin lace may include toile or toil (clothwork), rseau (the net-like ground), braids, picots, tallies, and fillings, although not all styles of bobbin lace include all these elements.
The advent of machine-made lace at first pushed lace-makers into more complicated designs beyond the capabilities of early machines, and then eventually pushed them out of business almost entirely. The resurgence of lace-making is a recent phenomenon and is mostly confined to a hobby status. Guilds of modern lacemakers still meet in regions as varied as Devonshire, England and Orange County, California. In the European towns where lace was once a major industry, especially in Belgium, England, Portugal and France, lacemakers still demonstrate the craft and sell their wares, though their customer base has shifted from the wealthy nobility to the curious tourist.
Bobbinet is the name for the machine-made bobbin lace, made by machinery designed by John Heathcoat in 1806.
Many styles of lace were made in the heyday of lacemaking (approximately the 1500s-1700s) before machine-made lace became available. Some well-known types of bobbin lace are:
Honiton – A very fine English lace with many flowers
Torchon – Well-known for its variety of beautiful, often geometric grounds
Cluny – Flowers, braids and picots (tiny loops of thread) make this light and delicate
Bedfordshire lace (Beds) – this has flowing lines and picots (to foil the machines)
Bucks point Buckinghamshire lace – very “lacy” with characteristic hexagon ground and often with a gimp thread (a heavier thread worked through for emphasis)
Mechlin, a fine, transparent Flemish lace known for its floral patterns, fine twisted-and-plaited, hexagonal ground, and outlined designs
Valenciennes, a French bobbin lace with a net-like background originating in the 18th century
Bobbin lace near Schlettau in 1936
Bobbin lace in progress
Lace making beaver in The Hunting of the Snark
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Bobbin lace
^ Oxford English Dictionary definition of “bone lace”
^ a b c d Levey, Santina M.: “Lace in the Early Modern Period c. 1500-1780.” In Jenkins, Cambridge History of Western Textiles, p. 585-580
^ Montupet and Schoeller, 1988, p. 16-18
Jenkins, David, ed.: The Cambridge History of Western Textiles, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-521-34107-8
Montupet, Janine, and Ghislaine Schoeller: Lace: The Elegant Web, New York: Abrams, 1988, ISBN 0-8109-3553-8.
Oxford English Dictionary on CD-ROM, Oxford University Press, 2002.
Virtual Museum of Textile Arts
Video of lacemaker making bobbin lace
An animation and explanation of various lace stitches
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Punto in Aria Point de Venise Point de France Alenon Argentan Argentella Armenian Hollie Point Halas lace Point de Gaze Youghal Kenmare Lace Limerick
Embroidered: Reticella Buratto Filet/Lacis andut Needlerun Net Tambour Teneriffe
Cut Work: Battenberg Broderie Anglaise Carrickmacross
Ancient: Antwerp Ecclesiastical Freehand Torchon
Continental: Binche Flanders Mechlin Paris Valenciennes
Point ground: Bayeux Blonde Bucks point Chantilly Tnder Beveren Lille
Guipure: Genoese Venetian Bedfordshire Cluny Maltese
Part laces: Honiton Bruges Brussels
Tape: Milanese Flemish Russian Peasant
Mezzopunto Princess Renaissance Romanian point
Broomstick lace Irish crochet Hairpin Filet crochet
Warp Knit Bobbinet Leavers Pusher Barmen Curtain Machine Chemical
Hand-finished: Hand-run Gimps
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