Limerick lace is a specific class of lace originating in Limerick, produced throughout the country. It evolved from the invention of a machine which made net in 1808; until John Heathcoat invented a net-making machine in Devon in 1815, handmade net was a expensive fabric. This meant cheap net became available to Irish lacemakers after 1823 when Heathcoat's patent expired. Limerick lace is a hybrid lace of embroidered needle lace or crocheted lace on a machine made net base, it is a'mixed lace' rather than a ‘true lace’, which would be hand made. Limerick lace comes in two forms: tambour lace, made by stretching a net over a frame like a tambourine and drawing threads through it with a hook, needlerun lace, made by using a needle to embroider on a net background; the lace was noted for its variety of delicate fillings, as many as 47 different ones being found in one collar. The Limerick lace industry was founded in 1829 by a native of Oxfordshire; the history of Limerick lace can be divided into two broad periods: the age of factory production 1829-c.1870 and the age of home and workshop production c.1870-1914.
In 1829, Walker brought over 24 girls to teach lace-making in Limerick, drawn to the area by the availability of cheap, skilled female labour, his business thrived. Charles Walker chose Limerick after touring various sites for the business. Limerick had a thriving Limerick glove industry, but at this time had a large population of unemployed women with a tradition of factory work. Limerick lace was produced in factories for the first forty years of its existence. Between the 1830s and 1860s, several lace factories operated in Limerick; the city’s second lace factory was established in 1835 by William Lloyd at Clare Street and in Abbey Court off Nicholas Street. In 1841, there were 400 girls working for him. In 1836, Leycester Greaves, a Cork man opened a factory in Limerick; these lace factories employed 2,000 women and girls. In the 1840s, Limerick lace making was introduced to a number of convents and convent-run institutions, both in Limerick and elsewhere. In 1850, lace making was introduced to the Good Shepherd Convent on Clare Street Limerick, but it was made in other religious houses based in the city, including the Presentation Convent in Sexton Street and the Mercy Convent at Mount Saint Vincent, on O’Connell Avenue.
Limerick lace was disseminated throughout Ireland by Catholic religious sisters, anxious to provide employment at the time of the Famine. They introduced it to several other convents, including religious houses in Youghal, Dunmore East and Kenmare. At the Good Shepherd Convent, the last lace making centre in Limerick, production ceased in 1990. In the 1860s and 1870s, the Limerick lace industry declined due to the market being flooded by machine made lace from chiefly from Nottingham. One reason for this period of decline was the realisation that design was necessary for beautiful lace. Following the Cork Industrial Exhibition of 1883, the President of Queen's College, wrote, ".. only well-designed and finely executed lace can hold its ground against machine lace."It was revived in the 1880s due to the work of Florence Vere O'Brien who established a Lace School in Limerick, which opened with eight pupils in May 1889. This ran until 1922. Another important promoter of Limerick lace during this period was Ishbel Hamilton-Gordon, Countess of Aberdeen who established the Irish Industries Association in 1886 to encourage the'Buy Irish' movement.
This was integral to reviving Limerick lace as a traditional craft. In 1904, Mrs Maude Kearney, a daughter of James Hodkinson, founder of the famous firm of specialists in church decoration in Henry Street, established a lace making business which she called the Thomond Lace Industry. Based in Thomondgate, Thomond Lace employed between fifty and eighty workers at the height of its success. After the Second World War, Limerick lace declined rapidly; those who are known to have worn Limerick lace were Queen Victoria, Edith Roosevelt and Countess Markievicz. When John F. Kennedy visited Limerick in 1963 he was presented with a lace christening robe; this christening robe was created in Clare Street, Limerick. Generations of churchmen wore Limerick lace and used lace to decorate their churches. Limerick Museum holds the largest collection of Limerick lace in the country. A collection is held in the Sisters of Mercy in Charleville, Co. Cork. Limerick lace is formed on a mesh using one or both of two techniques: Tambour – where chain stitch is created using a hook.
Needlerun – where stitches are darned onto the ground using a needle. Sometimes applique was used, including net appliqued onto net; the types of lace made in the first factory at this time were fichus, blond lace trimming and grey lace, traced by tambour workers and filled by runners. In the 1840s the types of lace in production were floss work, satin stitch, two-stitch and moss work, however the introduction of machine-made lace was impacting the quality of the running work. Limerick lace is still produced on a small commercial bases by individual lace makers such as Eileen Browne. A number of classes are held both within Limerick and throughout the country in an attempt to revive the practice. In 2014, the Limerick Archives published a comprehensive history on Limerick lace called Amazing Lace, written by Dr Matthew Potter and edited by Jacqui Hayes. Hybrid - a conference and a series of exhibitions dedicated to Limerick lace were held in 2016, it was a collaboration between Limerick Archives and L
Youghal lace is a needle lace inspired by Italian needle lace developed in Youghal, County Cork, Ireland. Youghal lace was a top quality commercial product. Lace Making was taught in Youghal from 1845 by the Presentation Sisters. Mother Mary Ann Smith reverse-engineered some Italian lace to understand, she taught the technique to local women and thus the school of lace began. Among the finest pieces of lace made in Youghal was a train for Queen Mary worn on her visit to India in 1911 as its Empress; the skill of lace making is still retained in Youghal to this day, however most specimens are kept in private collections and put up for sale. There is no written record of either the stitches or the general technique at the Convents themselves, but the puzzling obscurity is illuminated by a number of important survivals: A sampler of 43 stitches, on display at the Kenmare Lace and Design Centre in Kenmare. A court train made for Queen Mary and worn by her at the Delhi Durbar of 1911. Two books of designs drawn in Chinese white on paper tinted beige, azure, crimson or midnight blue.
The Needlecraft Practical Journal no.106, published by William Briggs under the Penelope trademark, c1909. Two books of designs for needlepoint lace, hand-painted by the nuns of St Clares Convent in the late 19th century, on display at the Kenmare Lace and Design Centre, Kenmare. A number of smaller pieces are available for viewing at Youghal Heritage CentreIn addition there are some surviving pieces from that era. Pat Earnshaw has written two books and other Irish Lace and Youghal Lace, the craft and the cream. Youghal lace at the Irish Lace Museum Youghal lace - Virtual Museum of Textile Arts
Point de France
Point de France is a needle lace developed in the late 17th century. The lace is very rich and symmetrical; this expensive lace was popularized by the clergy. Most pieces of the 16th and 17th centuries are in museums
Needle lace is a type of lace created using a needle and thread to stitch up hundreds of small stitches to form the lace itself. In its purest form, the only equipment and materials used are a needle and scissors; the origins of needle lace date back to the 16th century in Italy, its origins may be found in the openwork on linen technique called reticella. A variety of styles developed where the work is started by securing heavier guiding threads onto a stiff background with stitches that can be removed; the work is built up using a variety of stitches—the most basic being a variety of buttonhole or blanket stitch. When the entire area is covered with the stitching, the stay-stitches are released and the lace comes away from the paper. Needle lace is used to create the fillings or insertions in cutwork. "Structures of Antique Lace". A Collection of Antique Laces. Retrieved July 26, 2005. Kenmare Lace And other forms of Irish Lace Needlelace - Lace Identification and Types Old Point Lace: How to Copy and Imitate It by Daisy Waterhouse Hawkins.
Chatto and Windus, London
Chantilly lace is a handmade bobbin lace named after the city of Chantilly, France, in a tradition dating from the 17th century. The famous silk laces were introduced in the 18th century. Though called Chantilly lace, most of the lace bearing this name was made in Bayeux in France and Geraardsbergen, now in Belgium. Chantilly lace is known for its fine ground, outlined pattern, abundant detail; the pattern is outlined in a flat untwisted strand. The best Chantilly laces were made of silk, were black, which made them suitable for mourning wear. White Chantilly lace was made, both in linen and silk, though most Chantilly laces were made of silk; the black silk Chantilly lace became popular, there was a large market for it in Spain and the Americas. Chantilly and the Spanish laces were the most popular black laces. Little white Chantilly was made. Another notable thing about Chantilly lace is the use of a half-and-whole stitch as a fill to achieve the effect of light and shadow in the pattern, of flowers.
The background, or réseau, was in the form of a six pointed star, was made of the same thread as the pattern, unlike the otherwise similar blonde lace. The lace was produced in strips four inches wide, joined with a stitch that left no visible seam. Chantilly lace remained popular in the 19th century, when every fashionable lady had a black or white Chantilly shawl, made in Brussels or Ghent. In the 17th century, the Duchesse de Longueville organised the manufacture of lace at Chantilly, it has been produced from until the present day. It became popular because of the duchesse's patronage and Chantilly's proximity to Paris and came into fashion again during the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI; when the French Revolution began in 1789, demand for the lace ceased. The lace-makers were seen as protégés of the royals, after Mme du Barry and Marie Antoinette were guillotined in 1793, the lace-makers of Chantilly were themselves killed. At this point production ceased. Napoleon I sponsored a revival of Chantilly lace between the years 1804 and 1815.
At this point production was concentrated in Normandy around the Bayeux area. While it was no longer being made in Chantilly, all of the old techniques and designs were used. Chantilly lace reached the height of its popularity around 1830 and was revived again in the 1860s, at which point it was made at Bayeux as well as at Geraardsbergen, in Belgium. In 1844, a machine was patented that made Valenciennes lace and black silk Chantilly lace, difficult to distinguish from the handmade lace. Chantilly lace – Virtual Museum of Textile Arts
Torchon lace is a bobbin lace, made all over Europe. It is continuous, with the pattern made at the same time as the ground. Torchon lace is notable for being coarse and strong, as well as its simple geometric patterns and straight lines, it does not use representational designs. Torchon lace was used by the middle classes for edging or insertion, to trim cotton and linen underwear, where it was ideal because of its strength and because it was inexpensive. Torchon lace was made from flax, but cotton is used as well, has been for a long time, it is made in strips 1 to 2 inches wide. Torchon lace has a gimp outlining the pattern; the gimp was first used in Sweden. Colored threads are used, but in general Torchon lace is white. Torchon lace is one of the oldest laces, is common to many lace-making regions such as Belgium, Italy, Saxony and Spain. Due to its simplicity, torchon lace is the first lace a lacemaker learns to make, has been since at least the 19th century, it only requires a few bobbins and uses thicker thread than other laces, which makes it easier to learn on.
It is the simplest of all the grounded laces. Beggar's lace is an alternative term for torchon lace. Though it is one of the oldest laces, torchon lace was not made in England until the late 19th century, at which point it was made in the East Midlands, thus it is not considered an English lace. By the early 20th century, machine-made copies were being made that were indistinguishable from the hand-made lace
Maltese lace is a style of bobbin lace made in Malta. It is a guipure style of lace, it is worked as a continuous width on a tall, upright lace pillow. Bigger pieces are made of two or more parts sewn together; the Lace Pillow in Malta is known as "Trajbu" pronounced as try-boo, while the Bobbins are called "Combini" pronounced as "chom-beany", this type of Lace making is popular in Malta's Sister Island of Gozo, found to the North of the main Island. Lace made in Malta was needle lace, from the 16th to the 19th century, when the economic depression in the islands nearly led to the extinction of lacemaking there, but in the mid 1800s, Lady Hamilton Chichester sent lacemakers from Genoa to Malta. They used the old needle lace patterns and turned them into bobbin lace, quicker, it was not long after its introduction that the Maltese lace developed its own style from Genoese lace. Maltese lace was shown at The Great Exhibition of 1851 and it became popular in Britain; the style was copied by lacemakers in the English Midlands, it was one of the sources for Bedfordshire lace.
Lace is still made in Malta today. To ensure the survival of the craft, lace making is taught in Government trade schools for girls, while private bodies such as the Society of Arts and Commerce hold special evening classes. Maltese lace has the following characteristics which are useful for identification: It is made from cream silk. Black silk was used in the past. Linen thread was used. There is the 8 pointed Maltese cross as part of the pattern, worked in whole or cloth stitch; the pattern may have worked leaves known as “wheat ears” or “oats”. These are plump and rounded in shape, rather than the long narrow leaves of other types of bobbin lace