Honiton lace

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This wedding dress from 1865 is trimmed with Honiton lace.

Honiton lace is a variation of bobbin lace, a lace textile made by using lengths of thread attached to bobbins, which are slowly woven together to make patterns. As with bobbin lace, the work is mounted on a lace pillow while it is made in order to provide support. Historical Honiton lace designs focused on scrollwork and depictions of natural objects such as flowers and leaves.

Characteristics[edit]

Honiton lace first became famous due to its ornate sprigs, complex patterns that were created separately and then sewn into the net ground of the piece.[1] Common sprigs include: daisies, roses, shamrocks, ivy leaves, butterflies, lilies, camellias, convolvulus, poppies, briony, antwerp diamonds, trefoils, ferns, and acorns.[2]

Origin and history[edit]

The art of making lace is rumored to have been brought to Honiton, England by Flemish refugees in the mid-to-late 1500s.[3] An old tombstone in the town is inscribed with information about one James Rodge who is described as a “bone lace seller” who died in 1617; it is not known whether he emigrated from Flanders or not.[4]

In the early period (approx. 1620-1800), sprigs of various designs were worked separately from the net ground by hand, then put together near the end of production. Later (approx. 1800-1840), handmade Honiton lace became obsolete in light of the invention of machine-made net, which was much cheaper to produce.[5] Historian Emily Jackson describes the design changes fostered by the convenience of this approach:

“There was a curious wave of careless designing and inartistic method during the time of this depression, and ugly patterns show ‘turkey tails,’ ‘frying pans,’ and hearts. Not a leaf, nor a flower, was copied from nature.”[6]

Handmade lacework had a resurgence in popularity in the 19th century when Queen Victoria ordered a Honiton lace bridal dress. The revival happened so quickly, and demand was so great, that a cheaper-quality lace was produced in large quantities. Due to the massive demand, this cheaper work had simpler designs due to the necessary speed of production.[7] Defining designs of lace at this time were “leaves, flowers, [and] scrolls . . . [that] look as natural as possible.”[8]

19th century Honiton lace incorporates a variety of stitches, including: whole stitch, stem stitch, lace stitch, fibre stitch, long plaitings, square plaitings, broad/cucumber plaitings, Honiton ground, star ground, Dame Joan ground, buckle stitch, flemish stitch, turn-stitch, chequer stitch, fibre stitch, and Antwerp diamond stitch.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jackson, Emily (1900). A History of Hand-Made Lace. p. 169. 
  2. ^ [Pseudonym], Devonia (1875). The Honiton Lace Book. pp. 81–83. 
  3. ^ Palliser, Mrs. Bury (1875). A History of Lace, 3rd ed. p. 355. 
  4. ^ Powys first=Marian (1953). Lace and Lace-Making. p. 150. 
  5. ^ Treadwin, Mrs. Antique Point and Honiton Lace. p. 40. 
  6. ^ Jackson, Emily (1900). A History of Hand-Made Lace. p. 170. 
  7. ^ Treadwin, Mrs. Antique Point and Honiton Lace. pp. 40–41. 
  8. ^ Treadwin, Mrs. Antique Point and Honiton Lace. p. 44. 
  9. ^ [Pseudonym], Devonia (1875). The Honiton Lace Book. pp. 81–83. 

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