Archive for the ‘travels to view antique linens and lace’ Category

Woman making bobbin lace, an astonishing experience

May 26, 2012

I made a movie of a woman making bobbin lace at the Kant Museum. She is amazing. The lacemaking demonstration took place in September 2008 in Bruges, Belgium at the lace museum, called the Kantmuseum. You will be as astonished as I was if you have never before seen bobbin lace being made by hand. The lacemaker uses a pattern which she keeps beside her and she glances at it from time to time without stopping her hand movements.

I will update the movie link soon.

The Lace Museum (Kant Museum) in Bruges, Belgium

May 26, 2012

Lace in the Kant Museum

Photos and commentary from my September 2008 trip to the lace museum in Bruges, Belgium. (The Flemish word for lace is “kant.”

Rare and Beautiful Laces, Linens and Embroidery

I saw (in person!) bobbin laces that I have only ever read about in books. One lace, called “Binche” (pronounced “bansch”) has a reseau called “fond de niege” or “snow ground” because the ground looks like snowflakes. It’s remarkable.

This is a round tablecloth with exquisite peacocks.

More peacocks decorate a superb handkerchief.

This is a lappet (or barbe) made in point d’Angleterre.

a close up:

Some gorgeous handkerchiefs were on display.

The lace is called “Toveressewerk” in Flemish.

a close up:

The following handkerchief is embroidered with spectacular whitework flowers. There was a remarkably similar one in the Irma Lace Shop for sale for around $2,000.

A coronet crowns this deer bobbin lace cartouche.

Windmills, swans and castles flow around this tea-sized tablecloth.

Delicate flowers and embroidery trace ethereal designs on this tablecloth edged with superb lace.

a close up:

This tablecloth combines many kinds of superb lace: filet (lacis), bobbin lace and needle point lace. (point de Venise)

Note the picots on the brides of the point de Venise ground.

This point de Venise (needlepoint lace) tablecloth features putti (winged cherubs) shaded in half stitch.

Another astonishing point de Venise (needlepoint lace) tablecloth has a large center medallion
with a portrait of the Virgin Mary.

a closer look:

These laces are no longer being made. Thread this fine has not been made for more than a hundred years. And, even if the raw materials were available, there is no longer any one with the ability to make it. Here is a movie of a lace making demonstration at the museum. The woman who is making the bobbin lace uses a pattern which she keeps beside her and she glances at it from time to time without stopping her hand movements!

My Belgian Lace Experience 2008

May 26, 2012

My September 2008 trip to the low countries included visits to 16th century canal houses, many art museums, a chocolate museum, a brewery and the lace museum in Bruges, Belgium. here are some musings on the state of handmade linens and lace in the world today. In one museum, I saw a filet lace panel that was dated 1599.

Outrageously Beautiful Brugge (Bruges)

Bobbin lace was invented in this gorgeous region. You can hardly walk half a block in the old city center without passing at least one linen and lace shop. Unfortunately, most shops sell the same kinds of things and most of the things have been imported from China. (really) Some are pretty, (but mundane,) pieces. But they have nothing to do with the superb tradition of handmade linens and laces.

Several years ago in Venice, I did a double-take when I saw on display a very expensive Point de Venise tablecloth that looked to me as though it had been made in China. When I went into the shop to get a closer look, the Chinese shopkeepers confirmed my suspicions. There is nothing wrong with selling or buying Chinese-made lace but selling Point de Venise in Venice implied that it had been made in Venice. Most people who visit lace shops in Bruges would assume that everything had been made in Bruges.


Some shops displayed older pieces in their windows or inside. (at prices that were expensive, even with the very weak dollar) The vintage Duchesse lace handkerchief in the next photo costs over $200.

This hanky costs approx. $450 USD.

This lovely Rose Point (or Point de Gaze) Hanky is nearly one thousand dollars.

This “rosaline perleĆ©” bobbin lace-edged embroidered round tablecloth is over $2,000.

The lace shop “Irma” sells only items that have been handmade in Belgium, both modern as well as antique. The shop sells lovely bobbin lace items that are made by area lacemakers. The shop also has some amazing antique laces including a 16th century handkerchief with a pricetag of Euros 5,000. (about $7,500.) The owner of the shop guessed that it had taken six or seven years to make that handkerchief.

Lacemaking today is a cottage industry that is a labor of love. The shop owner estimated that, when all is said and done, that the lacemakers earn about an euro an hour for their painstaking work. He also told me that, because there are no young lacemakers working today, within 10-20 years there will be none left at all. If you have an opportunity to travel to Brugge, please do so. I know you will enjoy it.

Items in Churches

I found the following (random) items to be interesting. Although there were plenty more that were on display in places that did not permit photography. The maroon velvet banner on display in a cathedral is embroidered with gold and silver metallic threads.


Close up of the embroidery

This photo shows a statue garbed with ornate fabrics, embroidery, brocade, gold and lace. Forgive my blurry photos but I hope they give you a taste of how richly decorated and beautiful she is.

I loved seeing the altarcloth in the next photo in use. It caught my eye because it was completely worn through with holes.


!