Bobbin lace is a lace textile made by braiding and twisting lengths of thread, which are wound on bobbins to manage them. As the work progresses, the weaving is held in place with pins set in a lace pillow, the placement of the pins usually determined by a pattern or pricking pinned on the pillow.
Bobbin lace evolved from passementerie or braid-making in 16th-century Italy. Genoa was famous for its braids, hence it is not surprising to find bobbin lace developed in the city. It traveled along with the Spanish troops through Europe. 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 toilé (clothwork), réseau (the net-like ground of continuous lace), fillings of part laces, braids, picots, and tallies, 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, Spain (Camariñas), northern and centre 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.
A Dutch design graduate in 2006 discovered bobbin lace was the only technique to make something fancy of a fence. In 2009 a sport park fence gained an Dutch Design Award. The first first fences became museum pieces. The fences are now produced in Bangalore by concrete rebar plaiters. Locations of some public fences:
- Amsterdam, Bijlmer sport park
- The Hague, 1756 Melis Stokelaan
- The Hague, 205 Christoffel Plantijnstraat
- Bikebowl, Alphen aan den Rijn
Many styles of lace were made in the heyday of lacemaking (approximately the 16th-18th centuries) before machine-made lace became available.
- Classification of traditional styles by technique
- Continuous bobbin lace also known as: straight lace or fil continu.
- Part lace
- Bobbin tape lace sometimes categorized as part lace, not to be confused with Tape lace
Various types of bobbins
Large bulbs to throw every now and then, Cogne
Paintings with bobbin lace makers
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- Oxford English Dictionary definition of "bone lace"
- Levey, Santina M.: "Lace in the Early Modern Period c. 1500-1780." In Jenkins, Cambridge History of Western Textiles, p. 585-580
- Reigate, Emily (1986). An Illustrated Guide to Lace (1988 ed.). Antique Collers' Club Ltd. p. 44. ISBN 1-85149-003-5.
- Montupet and Schoeller, 1988, p. 16-18
- "Lacemaking: Associations and Guilds". Fibre Arts Online Web. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
- de Vries-de Graaf, Tonny. "Lace Fence (1)". Kantbrief (2011-3): 18-20. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
- Earnshaw, Pat (1985). The Identification of Lace. De Bilt: Cantecleer. ISBN 9021302179.
- 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.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Lace". Encyclopædia Britannica 16 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Encajedebolillos.es - Shows 20 different lace styles
- Virtual Museum of Textile Arts
- Video of lacemaker making bobbin lace
- An animation and explanation of various lace stitches