[HNW] 16th century bobbin lace (slightly off topic)

Rosemary Stecher stecher3 at comcast.net
Thu Oct 23 20:01:52 PDT 2003

Kirrily Robert wrote:
> Can anyone tell me where I might find information on the tools used by
> 16th century bobbin lace makers?  What kind of bobbins, what kind of
> pillows, what were the pillows stuffed with, what did they use to make
> their prickings, and so on.

There is a picture on p. 36 in Embroidered Gardens by Thomasina Beck
that shows several ladies sitting in a garden doing needlework. One of
them is doing bobbin lace using a large cushion and bobbins that are
shaped a lot like modern Flemish bobbins. The picture is from the "Album
of Gervasius Fabricius of Salzburg", and is dated 1613.

The title page of the Nuw Modelbuch from 1561 mentioned by Sue Clemenger
is reproduced in 98 Pattern Books for Embroidery, Lace, and Knitting
(Charlotte Paludan and Lone de Hemmer Egeberg) and shows women working
on similar cushions (they look almost as big and squishy as bed
pillows--I assume they are a lot firmer than they look). The bobbins
seem to be straighter than the others, but it is hard to tell.

Figure 88 in Art and Life in Renaissance Venice (Patricia Fortini Brown)
is a photograph of a very different style of lace pillow. It is
described as "Bobbin lace-making pillow. Venice, 16th-17th century. Wood
and stuffed hemp. Musei Civici, Centro di Storia del Tessuto e del
Costume, Venice." The pillow is shaped like a cylinder, the two ends are
carved wood and there is a little square door in the middle of the end
showing, presumably for a storage compartment. The bobbins are shaped
like the Flemish bobbins, and are also carved. 

--Mathilde Eschenbach

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