It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted anything up here. Just to get myself back on track I think today i’ll post a little more about what it is that stirred my interest in Art & Design in the first place! Before you read on, I have a random question for you…What do you get if you add a spool of thread and a needle?
Before I ever knew the difference between a .png, a .gif and a .jpeg, or even knew how to turn on a computer to be honest, I was (and i’ll cheekily admit it) kind of an expert in one particular field… and though it sounds slightly cheesy to some (those unaware of it 😉 ) it is a fascinating area to be lucky enough to be thrown into at a young age. The area of interest of which I speak? Lacemaking. No it is not all crochet, not as simple as it looks, and no it is not old fashioned. It is, however, quite unappreciated in today’s technological world.
In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, before the industrial revolution, handmade lace (bobbin lace, fine crochet, needle lace/needlepoint lace, carrickmacross lace, mountmellick work, limerick lace etc. ) was a highly prized commodity used as a symbol of wealth and power, as a piece of art, and as a relatively profitable means of employment.
Finding people who still make it in large quantities is difficult to say the least. I don’t claim to make a huge pieces. I’m not that crazy… 😛 The amount of time one puts into making a tiny piece is incredible. Take this piece of Kenmare Lace(needle lace/needlepoint lace) for example:
If you were to extract one square inch from this roughly 4×6 inch piece and attempt to recreate it, you are talking about between 20 and 30 hours work, and that is for someone who is well practiced in the art of needle lace (calling it so for the benefit of our american friends. 🙂 Interestingly enough in older literature and quite often on mainland Europe it’s called needlepoint lace, though it has very little if anything in common with canvass needlepoint.)
Anyway, this is what I began making as a young girl. Today there are many relatively small lacemaking communities all over the world, with lace guilds in as many countries as there are variations in technique! In my own hometown I am currently part of a large project aiming to create a large commemorative Kenmare Lace Circle. It will celebrates 150 years of lacemaking in Kenmare, Co.Kerry and will (hopefully) be completed by June 2012 by a group of over 200 volunteers! 😐
If you are questioning it’s relevance, perhaps this might convince you and encourage you to have a little look at the amazing history of this once basic skill….
For her wedding to Prince William, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton (like Princess Diana before her), wore handmade carrickmacross lace. The dress was designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen, and was made by the Royal School of Needlework using an Irish technique dating back to the 1820’s.
So here’s where it all began for me, and where my interest in design continues to be fostered, especially when my eyes start to turn into little squares having stared at this computer screen all day…
I certainly hope you will consider diving a bit further into this intricate and always intriguing end of design with me. For more information on the lace and the stunning handpainted designs, and some lovely photos of the Kenmare Lace Circle in progress, please check out the Kenmare Lace & Design Centre Facebook page, and maybe take a little peek at KenmareLace.ie where you can learn more about the lace techniques practiced in Ireland. Happy diving!! 😉