Friday, 19 February 2010

Victorian mother of pearl fan with mixed Brussels lace

This is by far the prettiest fan I have ever sold, the lace is exquisite. I love the asymmetric pattern, a beautiful, naturalistic spray of delicate flowers and butterflies, like a photograph frozen into lace. The lace is a mixed lace, which means it is a mixture of both handmade bobbin lace and needlepoint lace on a fine machine made net ground.

Bobbin lace is quite similar to weaving, the fine thread is wound onto many little lace bobbins, which are passed around pins on a cushion that mark out a design in a particular order, to create the 'clothwork' petals & leaves etc (see detail in picture 6). Needlepoint lace is quite a different technique, akin to embroidery, as the name suggests: threads are roughly tacked onto a pattern to give the basic outline, then a single needle & thread is used to work thousands of buttonhole stitches over these foundation threads, and then to create different filling stitches for the centres of the petals etc (see detail in picture 7).

The fan was made by J. Duvelleroy, a top maker of the time, I love the added stamp on the label: Fans Mended - such a thing of beauty was to be treasured, even if something went horribly wrong, and it suffered some sort of damage. It would have been considered an heirloom piece, so would have been looked after very carefully.


  1. So would be lovely for a wedding. I'm always in awe of the thought, time, and skills involved to create such beautiful and useful objects...they are truly an expression of the soul.
    Thank you for sharing your collections...I'm always inspired by your posts!
    I'm sorry to hear of your friend's passing...I hope you are finding some comfort and peace at this time. I'm sending love and light to you and your friend.
    Take care,
    Stella xx

  2. Thanks Stella, your thoughts are much appreciated. x

  3. This fan is such a piece of art...So beautiful

  4. This is so exquisite. I think I love lace above everything else!

  5. I agree with you Melanie, the design is really well thought out and executed with a true artist's touch.

  6. And Phyllis, I agree with you, early lace is beyond compare. So delicate, yet with inner strength to withstand the ravages of time. Also, these days, textile artists can, with care and skill, reproduce most early textiles, but not lace, the complex skills have been lost apart from rudimentary lace-making that exists today, also, the species of flax used for the finest linen thread is now exrinct, so even with our technology, we cannot produce a thread as fine as that of the 17th & 18th centuries!