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The Fascinating Art of Lace

The Fascinating Art of Lace

No two ways about it, I love Lace, I like to wear it and I like to paint it, in fact it often appears in my artwork. I cant say Ive ever made any although I’ve certainly had a go at crocheting and macramé when I was a kid and I guess that’s kind of the same thing in a way! The intricate pattern of actual lace is a work of art in itself and proper handmade lace is extremely beautiful. My fascination for old houses and old things mean I come across it quite often, colonial cottages have lots of it and so do Museums.

A I used to visit in Auckland was a specialist lace and it was heavenly to the lace lover in me. Even if I didn’t need any lace I still brought some, so for years after I always had the perfect piece of lace for anything I made, a dream when my girls were little, they had the cutest outfits with designer lace attached!

So what exactly is Lace? Well lace is what we call an openwork fabric, it’s patterned with open holes in the work, and is either made by machine or crafted by hand. The holes can be formed by either removing threads or cloth from a previously woven fabric, but is more often that open spaces are created as part of the lace fabric. Lace-making itself is an ancient craft although true lace was not made until the late 15th and early 16th centuries. A true lace is created when a thread is looped, twisted or braided to other threads independently from a backing fabric.

Lace was originally made from linen, silk, gold, or silver threads. These days lace is usually made from cotton thread. Manufactured lace may be made of synthetic fibres. A few modern artists make lace with a fine copper or silver wire instead of thread.

Lace is classified by how it is made.

Needle lace is made using a needle and thread. This is the most flexible of the lace-making arts. While some types can be made more quickly than the finest of bobbin laces, others are very time-consuming. Some purists regard needle lace as the height of lace-making. The finest antique needle laces were made from a very fine thread that is not manufactured today.

Bobbin Lace as the name suggests is made using bobbins and a pillow. The bobbins, turned from wood, bone or plastic, hold threads which are woven together and held in place with pins stuck in the pattern on the pillow. The pillow contains straw or similar materials such as sawdust, insulation Styrofoam or other plastic type foams. This is sometimes also known as Bone-lace. Chantilly lace is a type of bobbin lace.

Cut-work, or white-work lace constructed by removing threads from a woven background, and the remaining threads wrapped or filled with embroidery. This is the type of lace I used for my wedding dress.

Tape lace makes the tape in the lace as it is worked, or uses a machine- or hand-made textile strip formed into a design, then joined and embellished with needle or bobbin lace. The most elaborate of the tape laces, closely resembles and is often mistaken for Milanese Lace. Today it is no longer as elaborate and more closely resembles Battenberg. It is also called Brussels Lace or Ribbon Lace

Crocheted lace  uses finer threads and more decorative styles of stitching. It often has flowing lines or scalloped edges to give interest and a variation of the size of the holes also gives a piece a "lacy' look. Originally crocheted lace was not regarded as true lace. Crocheting was considered easy and less time consuming, but otherwise clearly inferior surrogate for "true" lace

Knitted lace including Shetland lace, such as the "wedding ring shawl", a lace shawl so fine, it is said to be able to be pulled through a wedding ring.

Knotted lace which includes macramé and tatting. Tatted lace is made with a shuttle or a tatting needle.

Machine-made which covers any style of lace created or replicated using mechanical means.

If youre interested in making lace, check out this site - http://www.lace.org.nz/news.php which is designed to inform lace makers, collectors and enthusiasts both in New Zealand and around the world about what is happening with the art of lace making in New Zealand.

Posted: Friday 23 July 2010


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