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September 4, 2007 > Bobbin Lace's legacy

Bobbin Lace's legacy

By Mona Shah

When looking at lace, most people think of weddings, christenings or doilies on the back of Grandma's couch. Lace is so much more than a simple decoration. It is an art form being kept alive by patient and talented lace makers who see the importance of creating this intricate and complicated craft.

Sometimes called a "Lost Art," Bobbin Lace is a fascinating pastime whose origins date back several centuries. Developed primarily in Europe, lace was a valuable commodity at a time when strict laws regulated its production and trade. Known as "White Gold," this luxury item was coveted by royalty and aristocratic patrons its worth equal to all other symbols of wealth and power. The origins of Bobbin Lace are something of a mystery. One theory traces its roots to ancient Egypt. Another legendary tale suggests that the art of lace-making was magically revealed to a Flemish nobleman through a vision of a delicate cobweb. Actual historical records date back to the 16th century and by the 17th and 18th centuries, many lace-making centers had developed throughout Europe. Bobbin Lace became popular in Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, England, and the Scandinavian countries. Each nationality had its own unique designs making lace a desirable product for trade.

Today, lace for sale commercially is typically mass-manufactured by machine. A revival of the ancient hand-craft has occurred in recent decades with strict attention given to using traditional methods and equipment. Bobbin Lace is created by interweaving or plaiting threads in a specified sequence arranged to follow a pre-determined pattern. Materials include bobbins, thread, pins, pattern card, and a pillow base on which to work. Threads in most common use come from natural fibers including cotton, linen, or silk. In the past, lace was customarily white, ivory, or black. Modern designs often include the addition of color and metallic threads. As with other forms of handwork, Bobbin Lace is a relaxing, rewarding hobby as well as a great way to keep your mind active.

The City of Fremont Recreation Services Department offers a unique opportunity for area residents to learn the art of Bobbin Lace-making. Classes take place throughout the year at the Warm Springs Community Center in Fremont. Both beginning and continuing students ages 15 and up are welcome to enroll.

For more information, please contact the City of Fremont Recreation Services Department at (510) 494-4600 or (510) 494-4228. Beginning Level hours are 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; fee is $89. Continuing Level hours are 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; fee is $99. The City also has a supply kit available for beginners to purchase complete with all necessary materials to get started.

For those interested in the history of Lace, the art of lace making is still very much alive, particularly in the Bay Area. The Lace Museum of Sunnyvale is known worldwide as the place for lace-lovers to go.

The Lace Museum and Guild
552 S. Murphy St., Sunnyvale
(408) 730-4695
Tuesday-Saturday
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
No general admission fee

Bobbin Lace Classes
City of Fremont Recreation Services
Wednesday evenings
September 19 through December 5
Warm Springs Community Center
47300 Fernald St., Fremont
(510) 494-4600
(510) 494-4228

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