An Early Lace Workbook

An Early Lace Workbook

Bobbin Lace Techniques before the Baroque

By Rosemary Shepherd.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Ligeti.

A4.  Soft cover.  84 pages.  Published by Lace Daisy Press with Lace Press Australia.

ISBN  978-0-9591235-4-8

This is a super book of the history of the earliest laces, and sets the usually accepted beginnings of bobbin lace back many years.  Photos of 13th and 14th Century paintings depicting a diamond mesh which might have been an early bobbin lace are shown, and reproductions of that lace are pictured, along with  Rosemary’s precise research.  She has been researching these laces for about 40 years, both in Australia and overseas. It is one of the most comprehensive books I have read about the beginnings of bobbin lace. It is a serious, but very interesting and informative book, and not one to be lightly flipped through.

The book travels a journey through the ages, with chapters in Part I on “Bobbin Lace – the Early Years”
– with a lot of information about the design sources, materials, threads – both linen and metal that were used at that time,  how they were used, and  their equipment.

Part II is about “Bobbin Lace in Early Paintings” – and as Rosemary says “Looking at paintings through lace-tinted spectacles”!!  (Don’t we all look at pictures that way?! J)
The pictures start at an early 14th Century with a painting by Giotto di Bondone 1267-1337.The section then goes on through the 15th to the 16th Century.
She shows details of some paintings and drawings of others with reproductions of the lace with patterns and working diagrams.

Part III features reconstructions of patterns from Nuw Modelbuch, as well as some others from early lace in museums and private collections.  Patterns are alongside each piece, and also Rosemary’s beautifully clear working diagrams.  Their different techniques are clearly explained.  The development of more complex designs can be seen, as the patterns progress,
and it ends with the “Batavia” lace that was discovered, along with some bobbins, on the Abrolhos Islands off the West Australian coast near Geraldton.  The ship “Batavia” had foundered in 1629, and the wreck was not discovered until 1963. The lace fragments and bobbins were listed in the 1989 report of the excavations. Rosemary worked on reconstructing the lace, and her pattern and diagrams were published in Australian Lace some years ago.

This is a book worthy of a place on your bookshelf, and is a treat if you are interested in the history of bobbin lace.
I can’t wait to get a pillow cleared and start to make some early lace!

Early Lace Workbook