Wednesday, 20 July 2022

Revival of needlepoint laces


I’ve been reading about the revival of Venetian style needlepoint laces throughout Europe during the 1880s as part of my research into ‘imitation’ laces. These heavier more structured laces became fashionable as trimmings on clothing at this time. This led to lacemakers copying examples of seventeenth century laces but also in many cases remodelling actual pieces of old seventeenth century lace. Belgian lacemakers famed for the expertise of their needlelace copied many of these seventeenth century designs so skilfully that it is thought some Venetian merchants ordered the lace and sold it for high prices to visitors to Venice as genuine seventeenth century work. It is very difficult to distinguish it from the original lace although one tell-tale sign is the use of cotton thread instead of the original linen thread as cotton thread was not used for lace making until the 1830s. However, hand lacemakers soon had competition in the form of chemical lace made by embroidering patterns on to a sacrificial backing material which was then chemically removed and which superficially imitated the more solid Venetian styles very well. The lace in the image is a modern interpretation of needlepoint lace.

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