With Valentine’s Day right around the corner it is hard to stay away from images of doilies and ruffles and lace. So I thought that rather than trying to fight that, I would embrace it! If you know me at all, you know that pink and lace are two things that are so totally not me. So this will be a true challenge!
My own wedding dress bodice was made from re-embroidered Alençon lace, so it is not as if lace is foreign to me. So I started by doing a little research on the art of handmade lace.
There are many types of handmade lace: crochet, tatting, needle, knit and bobbin. I found this vintage photo intriguing and wanted to know more about the bobbin lace that these ladies were making.
In this photo, the women all have these pillows on their laps with multiple threads all tied to wooden bobbins. Lacemaking by hand surely must be a dying art. No wonder that handmade lace is passed down for generations and is treasured as any family heirloom would be!
All those bobbins were very interesting to me. How exactly would you keep them all straight?!
Bobbin lace is also known as pillow lace because this method requires working with a pattern embedded in a stiff pillow with straight pins. The lacemaker weaves threads held on bobbins to the pattern that is pinned to the top of the pillow. This centuries old technique needs a firm pillow (originally filled with straw so the pins wouldn’t wobble), bobbins to hold the thread and weight them down, straight pins, thread and a pattern.
I found mention of a place called Lace Island, in Burano, Italy. There the picturesque streets are filled with uniquely colorful buildings amid meandering canals, and lots of shops selling handmade lace, using equipment and techniques passed down for centuries. These women seem so engrossed in their craft, so intent on keeping the patterns together. Makes my eyes a bit buggy just thinking about it! But I would like to think that they also got in a few laughs in the warm sun and shared a healthy dose of camaraderie. We tend to do so many solo crafts these days connected only by the internet, that I wonder how great it would be to have groups that would get together to make beautiful things like this. I am sure they would take great pride in that.
While the intricate woven lace patterns are certainly gorgeous, I was most fascinated by the bobbins. I learned that they were often made of wood, or bone or even carved ivory. Works of art in and of themselves. Sometimes they would have beads embellishing them on the ends! There seemed to be different colors of beads. I don’t know if this is purely decorative or if it helps the weaver keep track of a certain thread. I suspect a bit of both.
How they keep track of it all boggles my mind!
Of course, today most lace is embroidered on huge machines (why yes, I think this Italian gentleman can make my lace anyday! ;-). But there are still ateliers out there that craft lace by hand. Sophie Hallette (www.sophiehallette.com) is a French atelier that specializes in handmade lace. They created the lace that adorned the wedding dresses of Princess Kate and Amal Clooney.
When I went shopping for beads, I had lace in my mind. But it was when I spotted this pendant from Halcraft…
10288307 – Rose Quarz stone drop pendant
10172485 – Shell purple round 8mm (looks more like pink to me!)
10322278 – Light pink stone round 10mm
10322261 – Pink flower ceramic round 8mm
10290525 – Pink ceramic large rondel
That set the tone for everything else! This rose quartz capped point pendant (looks a bit washed out in this photo – really lightest of pinks) really makes me think of the bobbins. From there I just started pulling some pink beads to bring in that romantic feel. I could see adding in lacy textiles to this palette and making something soft and pretty. Hmmm….the wheels are turning!
My Pretty Palette partner for February is Michelle Ann McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio.
Miss Michelle makes really beautiful ceramic beads and components inspired by nature in her Florida studio. I am delighted to have her join me! In the meantime, please check her out!
Name: Michelle McCarthy
Company: Firefly Design Studio
So…lace is the theme…and the beads you choose are up to you! Join us for the Pretty Palettes reveal on February 24th!
I am really excited about joining you in this challenge, Erin! Pink and lace are not my “go to” design elements, so this will stretch my imagination. I received my beads today, and the pendant definitely reminds me of the bobbins in the lace makers photos. I have some fun ideas that need to be brought to life!