From the Lacemaker

A Brief Discourse on the Craft and History of Bone Lace


“Of many Arts, one surpasses all. For the maiden seated at her work flashes the smooth balls and thousand threads into the circle, … and from this, her amusement, makes as much profit as a man earns by the sweat of his brow, and no maiden ever complains, at even, of the length of the day. The issue is a fine web, which feeds the pride of the whole globe; which surrounds with its fine border cloaks and tuckers, and shows grandly round the throats and hands of Kings.” – Jacob Van Eyck, 1651.

Bone lace, or bobbin lace as it may also be named, is worked upon a pillow either cylindrical or domed as the style of lace requires. Threads of silk, gold, silver, or linen (if the garment or the customer is a poorer one) are wound around pairs of bobbins, which are then twisted or plaited according to the desired pattern or “pricking”. As the work progresses, a multitude of pins is used to hold the threads in place until the tension required to sustain the shape of the lace is lace pattern from a 16th century bobbin lace book

Theories upon the origins of bone lace are as intricate and varied as the product itself. In Europe, foreign consorts such as Anne of Bohemia, Katharine of Aragon, and Mary of Scotland played a large role in the instruction and proliferation of the lace techniques of their homelands. In the latter part of the 16th century a lace constructed upon a pillow appeared in Flanders, adding an entirely new branch of the industry.untitled

Believed to have evolved from the Italian art of passamenterie, or braid-making, the low cost of bone lace equipment and the ease of its construction made it instantly popular. Fashion created a high demand for the lace, and soon the art of bone lace making was widely taught in charity schools, convents, and almshouses.

I am myself a product of one of these charity schools, and had the good fortune to be apprenticed to a lacemaker of Flanders thereafter. Our companionship was cut short by my own wicked deeds, but more of that another time. Sufficient it is to say that my education was adequate, and I now earn my living as a bone-lace weaver. And in truth I can think of no fairer trade.

Alice Mason, Lacemaker, Crewe of the Archangel424879_104271709742307_1901432694_n


Levey, Santina M.: “Lace in the Early Modern Period c. 1500-1780.” In Jenkins, Cambridge History of Western Textiles, p. 585-580

Preston, Doris Campbell: “Needle-Made Laces and Net Embroideries.”

S. W. Permenter © 2013 All rights reserved.

Special Thanks to Mile Zero Photography & J. Ashing


2 Responses to “From the Lacemaker”

  1. What’s up to every one, since I am actually keen of reading this blog’s post to be updated on a regular basis.
    It includes pleasant data.

    • Thank ye. Although we enjoy our blog, the crewe is always busy researching, building and presenting which, as ye can imagine, requires a lot of time. Without that, we would not have much to blog about, but we shall try to keep the blog more current.

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