Thursday, 19 March 2009

Early Reticella Needlework/Needlelace

I was chatting to a customer about really early textiles, he had bought some French Toile de Bordeaux (c1790) from me, and was chatting about his long quest for 15th and 16th century silk and tapestry fragments. It reminded me to have a look at my very small but beautiful collection of early lace, dating from the late 16th century through to the beginning of the 18th. I am still very new to the complexities of lace identification, but find it endlessly fascinating. I shall start to show you some of my favourite bits and bobs!
These 2 pieces are quite interesting, the top a piece of Reticella needlework on linen, dating to about 1590-1600, it is the earliest and simplest type of needlepoint lace, complex cutwork that extended into lace with clever use of buttonhole stitch across the gaps. The lace below is braid based Reticella, a little later at around 1620-1650, a needlepoint lace in linen thread.
I never cease to be amazed at the simple beauty of such ancient textiles, made with such care, so many years ago. It is worth looking out for such pieces when you see batches of lace, as you can occaisionally find really old pieces like this, as not many poeple are interested in this type of lace! I found both of these pieces by rummaging through large bundles for sale at our local car bot sale! Reticella was revived in the 19th and 20th centuries so is quite easy to find, but you can usually recognise this as being clumsier, with a coarser thread than in the early examples, or overly pernickerty as was often the case with Victorian laces.

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