While doing some samples of needle art for the Hamburg Exhibit that is currently at the Arts and Heritage Center of North Augusta, I thought it might be nice to cover at least one of the arts this month. So I will write about the art of lace making.
While living in Italy I spent many a day sitting and watching and learning from the local ladies who sat outside of the homes or shops creating lace for the visitors to see.
While I can’t begin to cover the history or many styles, I can touch on a few forms and styles of fiber artists of today. I crochet, which is just one form of lace making. It is still easy to find supplies for this art craft but not as easy as when I was younger.
With crocheting, you can create very fine lace and edging plus bags, rugs, cloth, table cloths, scarves, clothing, trims, meshes, netting, Irish laces and Tunisian (afghan stitch), a cross between knitting and crocheting. It takes hours, days, weeks, months and even years to create some of the items. Today there are machines than can do this work however I feel there is nothing like the hand worked items for real beauty.
Other styles of lace work are needle lace, which is what the name suggests- lace made with a needle and thread. The techniques probably evolved from those used for openwork embroidery, but the structure is built entirely of thread with fabric used only as an anchoring device. While there are several styles of needle lace the best known is probably Battenberg or Renaissance lace.
Tatting is a form of lace that consists of one knot, called a double stitch, worked in groups over a single thread. This thread is pulled to draw the stitches into curved formations called rings and chains; these in turn are joined in larger groupings or motifs. Traditionally, the technique has been used to make edgings and insertions, but tatting enthusiast can produce a large item such as a tablecloth. The lace is worked with a fine cotton thread, so it is delicate looking but very strong. The tatting procedure is a continuous thread that is wound on a small shuttle.
Filet netting is mesh worked in a diamond or square shape, with a design embroidered on it. No matter the form, the netting takes the basic technique remains the same and involves only one knot. Most filet netting is a square mesh. It reached its peak in the 17th century Europe when it featured intricate embroidery in many colors and textures. It returned in the Victorian era, but is a less ornate form characterized by geometric patterns and natural-colored cotton and linen threads. It requires knotting cord, a heavier cord for the foundation, a shuttle to hold the knotting cord and mesh stick to establish mesh size. The best shuttle for lace is a special needle made especially for knotting of fine mesh. It is made with a special open eye hook style at each end. A good mesh “stick” for filet netting is a double-pointed knitting needle: slim enough to establish a small opening, short enough to be manageable.
Bear in mind, today traditions can be followed with fine, soft crochet cotton, however, the knots should look crisp and be nearly invisible; this calls for smooth, tightly twisted cord (but not so hard a twist that a knot will be obvious). Embroidery threads can be chosen far more freely; it faces no such restrictions.
Bobbin lace is woven of a pair of threads wound on bobbins, only two basic stitches are involved, half stitch and whole stitch but from these a variety of designs can be woven. The weaving is done over an actual-size paper pattern mounted on a pillow or padded board. Pins are inserted into the pillow to hold in place. The pattern is called a pricking because it is perforated at specific points in the design to make the pins easier to insert. The pillow accounts for some calling it pillow lace, and dates back to the 15th century. As its popularity spread, local styles developed.
Weaving lace can be created by the technique of two sets of thread, the warp and weft to produce a textile. This lace can be woven on a simple picture frame style loom or a complex mechanical loon.
Hairpin lace is a type of crochet worked with a two-pronged fork or hairpin and crochet hook. All of these laces were passed down from generation to generation and have been an art form from the beginning; while many of these are thought to be a dying art there are many still trying to keep it from doing so by continuing to practice this art form today.
Cts of the Month at the Arts and Heritage Center, the Greater North Augusta Chamber of Commerce, the Beveled Edge Art and Frame Gallery, the Jim Bush Flower Shop, the North Augusta Family Y and Quality Printing.
Yvonne Kinney is president of the North Augusta Artists Guild.
YVONNE KINNEY IS PRESIDENT OF THE NORTH AUGUSTA ARTISTS GUILD.