THE ART OF LACE: A RESOURCE GUIDE

By ERLA ZWINGLE

The emotional and aesthetic power of lace seems to keep turning up in all sorts of secondary forms (including patterns on acrylic fingernails). Therefore, in addition to some standard literature resources, you might glance at some of the creative ways in which lace’s elegance is being re-purposed, but also added to very unrelated items.

  • The best book on Burano lace, and particularly the history and people of the island, is the deeply researched and highly readable A Venetian Island: Environment, History and Change in Burano, by Lidia Sciama (2005).
  • Any serious student of lace (all lace, not just Italian) must do homage to Mrs. Bury Palliser’s exhaustive classic History of Lace (1911). It isn’t casual reading, but it’s the place to to go if you need to consult the expert of experts.
  • For a more easy-going read, I like the less dense handbook cum glossary Lace: Its Origin and History which is available in a free online version by Samuel L. Goldenberg (1904). Amazon also has an inexpensive Kindle version.
  • The Lace Book by N. Hudson Moore (1904) isn’t oppressively technical, and it’s full of interesting anecdotes about the spread of lace across Europe from the 16th century onward. You can order it from Amazon, but I wanted to give a shout-out to Forgotten Books, an extraordinary trove of old books.
  • Photographs are wonderful, but if you want to see Burano lace being made in real time, have a look at this 27-minute video by Davide Bressanello, the owner of the “Dalla Lidia” shop.
  • International lace-making is thriving, and Lace News contains a wealth of information on items for sale, events listed by country, auctions, even notices of stolen lace.
  • The International Bobbin and Needle Lace Organisation conducts research, publishes a bulletin, and hosts a biennial congress in different European cities, with competitions and workshops added. The 2018 event has yet to be announced but in 2020 the members will be in Tartu, Estonia. 
  • Perhaps surprisingly, Americans form the largest concentration of the 1,100 members of the International Organization of Lace. A great deal of their handiwork will be displayed at the 2017 annual meeting which will be in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. 
  • A useful list of international lace organizations is available at Bobbin Maker, along with links to vendors of lace-making supplies.
  • If you are in or traveling to the San Francisco Bay Area, there’s a Lace Museum just an hour or so away (Sunnyvale, to be exact). The museum features exhibitions, events, and classes in bobbin lace, crocheting and tatting, although nothing so far in needle lace.
  • Monika Knutsson is one of any number of craftsmen and artists who are using old lace in their works. She dips fragments of lace in gold to make cuff bracelets and other jewelry. My regret at seeing lace transformed from its original state is superseded by pleasure at seeing the lace reappear on women’s arms and ears. 
  • More lace jewelry is being made via the lost-wax process, by Gabrielle Bratton in San Francisco and Raleigh, NC.
  • Lace stencils can make cakes, cupcakes and cookies look exceptionally delectable. (I don’t organize fancy teas, but if I did I would totally make a name for myself serving sweets decorated with edible lace.)
  • 134 artists from 20 countries displayed their passion for lace in this spectacular exhibition of winning entries and finalists in the Powerhouse Museum (Sydney, Australia) International Lace Award in 2013. The list of artists and their websites, with pictures of their works, is an extraordinary trove of modern work in lace.

© 2017 Erla Zwingle, all rights reserved. Under exclusive license to Craftsmanship, LLC. Unauthorized copying or republication of this article is prohibited by law.

Published: April 12, 2017