I have sort of a “wary” feeling about lace. One one hand, it is so incredibly beautiful, possibly the most amazing of textile arts. To take thread and create such intricate craft and stunning beauty is amazing, and I can’t look at it enough. Of course, there is a lot of cheap mass-produced lace that is less than exciting, but even simple laces can have their charm.
When I think of lace, I think about weddings, babies, lingerie. It does come into style every so often – remember the denim-and lace pairings of the 80s? As far a style goes, it calls for caution in adult women. It can seem a little childish. It can also seem extremely matronly (think the queen in lace). It can conjure sickly sweetness and also a sense of desperate hardness (think black, goth, cape, severe black lace.) Or, played well, it can be a beautiful adornment.
Lace was born in ancient Egypt, where flax was woven into geometric shapes. The edges of the early textiles would fray and something had to be done to keep th fabric from unraveling. The art grew from twisting these ends and stitching them to prevent further fraying.
Lace as we think of it was developed in Italy and Flanders. Lace brought great wealth to Italy from the twelfth century forward, and it became a true mark of status to wear fine lace. To read about lace in more detail, see this web site with the the whole story. http://www.lacemagazine.com/Lace%20History.htm It is an ancient art and an amazing adornment.
Lace was used by the clergy at, and then in the 16th century it became very popular throughout Europe, Russia and the New World thanks to cottage industry making laces more readily available. A man’s military rank could be noted on his uniform by the lace used to adorn it. Many European countries developed regional lace specialties and unique styles, which continues today. I was curious to learn exactly when it fell from favor for men to wear lace, but I have not discovered exactly when and why that was. Today it’s really thought of as a feminine touch, though celebrity men can rock the lace at times. I’m thinking of Prince, and who could forget Liberace.
Sadly, in American history children were exploited so that society women could wear and adorn their homes with fine lace. This sad site really got to me: http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/childlabor/
I am using a number of antique French, Irish and American laces in the pins I am making this month. My personal challenge is to use the lace, as well as a vintage Valentine theme, and make it work as a wearable piece of art. Some of the laces in the photo above were collaged to form the basis of this series. I’m having a lot of fun with it and feel the works offer a chance to rock some lace without seeming overly “lacy.” I’ll have enough pins to reveal a few of them later in the week.