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Fedor Ivankov
Fedor Ivankov

Brussels Lace

1) An inexpensive, but fine quality, Bobbin lace made in Brussels from the second half of the 17th century. Brussels lace is made from local Brabant flax. The large floral and plant designs were joined with a mesh ground to form the larger pattern. The mesh ground has a characteristic hexagon with four twisted and two plaited sides. By the 18th century, the designs were worked separately then added onto a net background. It is thought that Brussels lace may have been smuggled into France and England for sale as English lace (point d'angleterre).

brussels lace

Trimmings of real handmade lace were very expensive prized possessions, and a piece as fine as this may never have been used. Queen Victoria had tried unsuccessfully to revive interest in Honiton laces, handmade in Devon, with the order for her magnificent wedding flounce, but the craft was already too far gone in the face of competition from machine production. After 1861, she wore the flounce with her mourning dress for the rest of her life.As a result of the disappearance of lacemaking by hand on a commercial scale, collecting antique handmade lace became very popular in the late nineteenth century. Pieces such as collars and flounces were purchased to be worn. Exhibition pieces continued to be made, mostly in the form of handkerchief borders, until at least 1900. The Museum owns a number of fine examples.

In the 16th Century, Flemish lace meant all bobbin lace from Ghent, Antwerp, Malines, Brussels and Brugge. By the 18th Century, patterns and techniques had evolved and were clearly identified as Fairy point, Rosealine, Duchesse and others. Place names such as Cluny, Venice, Brussels and Bruges did not necessarily indicate the place of origin.

Without labels, how can you determine quality and authenticity? The Belgian lace industry has strict standards. Lace of recent vintage, still made at home and then sold to shops, is certified fait a main, or handmade. Size and complexity determine value. Antique lace is recognizable by its finer threads and greater intricacy.

Across the street from the center, Apostelientje Lace Shop has a collection of antique and recent lace. There are recently made doilies ($20-$30, depending on size) and framed 12-inch decorative pieces, including a baby buggy ($20) and lace maker ($75).

Lace shops abound in Bruges. At Market Square 11, the Little Lace Shop is a good source for high-quality investment lace. There are also doilies, place mats and handkerchiefs comparable in quality and price to Apostelientje.

Lace-trimmed linen tablecloths (two by three yards) sell for $250-$500. Similar cloths in cotton mixture cost $125-$180. The price includes eight to 12 napkins. Runners cost $100-$200. There are decorative lace cats, candles, birds, hearts, steamboats, balloons and other items in eight- or 15-inch oval frames for $14-$55.

Souvenir lace is even less expensive at Firma Pickery (Vismarkt 13, near the old Fish Market), where dozens of doilies and runners ranging from 70 cents to $60 hang on the walls for the choosing. There are also inexpensive lace maker dolls.

Brussels, too, has dozens of lace shops. Manufacture Belge de Dentelles, at Galerie de la Reine 6-8, is a must. The shop, run by the Mallit family since 1810, has an exceptional selection of recent lace objects including parasols, christening robes and fans as well as more utilitarian items, and a collection of antique lace.

In the Grand Palace, the Rubbrecht Lace Shop (No. 23) has cabinets full of antique lace, including some mantillas. A lovely rose point design (on handmade needlepoint net) rectangular piece (3x3 1/2 feet), dating from 1850, sells for $1,800. Another rectangle in duchesse point, made in 1900, sells for $300. There are also antique handkerchiefs for $80-$500. These are investment pieces, but the shop also has a full range of recent lace items at reasonable prices.

Brussels, too, has a lace workshop in the Museum of Costume and Lace at 6 Rue de la Violette (near Grand Place). The XXth-Century Lace Workshop is run by Colette van Steyvoort, a pioneer in contemporary lace making. This is different from recent lace or modern lace. Contemporary lace making uses traditional techniques to create decorative lace objects, some monumental in size.

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Flanders, a region now consisting of parts of Belgium, France, and the Netherlands, became the center for producing exquisite needle lace with an incomparable aesthetic. The creation of needle lace seems a rather simple and undemanding challenge because the lacemaker uses only a needle and thread and works over an outlined design on parchment. But the true secret to the development of such lovely historical needle lace lies not only in the skill and dexterity of the lacemakers but also in the finely spun linen fiber that allowed them to create such beautiful pieces.

The other source of my inspiration came from the Nancy Drew book The Secret of the Old Lace, which reveals a romance in Bruges, Belgium. The pattern is of two joined hearts that represent the bond of love between two people. No mystery message in my design, just a message of love. I stitched it in the traditional needle-lace technique, using basic buttonhole, corded single Brussels, and treble Brussels stitches (the latter two are variations of the detached-buttonhole stitch).

A beautiful example of a Brussels lace antique dress collar with an exquisite embroidered flowers and foliage design all along the edging. There's a few small holes and areas that need a little attention (see photos) as expected for its age but still in good clean condition.

MoMu sheds some light on Antwerp's history of lace. Antwerp played an important role in the production and trade of lace. MoMu tells this story through an exhibition trail that connects five locations in the city.

Cream cotton lace leaf; blond tortoiseshell guards, sticks and loop; front guard supporting the monogram AE, within a border beneath a crown, in platinum set with diamonds (2 + 16)26.3 cm (guardstick)RCIN 25143

Her voluminous skirt is made of red silk. Over this, she is wearing a black blouse made of the same material with two white threads going around her neck (I am not certain whether these are part of the blouse or some form of necklace). Over her shoulders is a small lace shawl.

Her chair is made of a thin chipboard. It is unpainted. Her bobbin lace stand is made of wood. It has a single leg and the rounded top is covered with green felt. Three bobbins carved from wood are laying on the bobbin pillow.

As delicate Brussels lace was originally made in damp cellar room with a single source of light to stop the threads form becoming too brittle, it is no wonder that this doll is wearing a pair of spectacles made of bronze wire, while doing such intricate work.

Brussels has been renowned for its delicate and beautiful Brussels lace since the 15th century. As can be seen in this doll, it is a form of bobbin or pillow lace (lace made by winding thread around bobbins on a padded cushion or board). Nowadays, Brussels lace is still made by hand though it is in danger of dying out.

The earliest known example of Honiton lace dates from the late sixteenth century. Made in East Devon, and westwards into Dorset, its name comes from the town where it was collected from local makers. From Honiton it was transported to London where the painstakingly created pieces of lace were used to decorate the clothing of royalty and the fashionistas of the day.

Although the fashion at the time was for Brussels lace, Queen Victoria commissioned Honiton lace for her wedding ensemble, reviving the flagging lace industry (which had been badly affected by the availability of cheap, machine made lace. This Honiton lace flounce became one of her most treasured possessions; it was worn again at the weddings of her eldest child, Vicky, in 1858, and of her grandson, the future George V, in 1893. In further support of English industry, her dress was made of East London (Spitalfields) silk.

For centuries, the creation of Honiton lace was a true cottage industry, employing women and girls as young as five. In 1870 the Education Act demanded that all children should attend school, but parents of many lacemaking children were reluctant to comply as families depended upon the income. In 1903 a compromise was reached. Schools were established where half the time was spent teaching lacemaking. It was an opportunity for women to earn money at what was considered to be a ladylike occupation.

The lace museum shows a number of unique pieces of lace from Bruges collections. Displays include the basic techniques and movements, types of lace and their geographical origins, the lace industry then and now and lace teaching in Bruges. The craftsmanship and aesthetics of lace are honored and, in addition, the contemporary and international appeal of lace is featured. The museum was developed with multimedia and interactive displays.

Little that went into Savoy productions strayed far from product placement. Oost tells us about program credits for the constructor of the floor in Utopia Limited (1893): "The parquet Floor on the Stage has been laid by Mr. H. Bassnat, of 87, Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square, London" (68). Of course, this consumer awareness is not unique to the Savoy operas. Costumes, including precious gems, functioned as fashion shows in many West End plays, though Oost does not acknowledge the pervasive intercourse between theatrical performances and commerce. Nor does love trump money in many English fictions at least as far back as Jane Austen, so that preference for rank and income is not unique to Savoy opera plots. The book does provide, however, a focused view of the scope and inclusiveness of thinginess in the Victorian comfortable classes. We listen to lyrics that enumerate the stuff that constitutes bourgeois happiness and enjoy the aesthetics of free programs (although we don't need to be told three or four times that they are free) featuring advertisements. We sing... 041b061a72


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