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russian bobbin lace pillow, bobbin lace making

Introduction

Bobbin laces made beautiful mode way of life for centuries. Russian artists of the past left us many evidences of national and estate dress using laces. They can be seen in collections of State Russian museum and State Tretiakov Art gallery. There are parade portraits of Russian aristocracy made I.Vishnjakov, R.Nikitin, D.Levitsky at 18th century, as well K.Brullov and P.Fedotov at 19th century. Bobbin laces as details of merchant and peasant dress are impressed on canvas of A.Venezianov, N.Bogdanov-Belsky, B.Kustodiev.
Bobbin lace making and techniques used be shown rarely in Russian painting – it was opened slightly by V.Tropinin (“Lace maker”, 1823), E.Katsman (“Kalyazin lace makers”, 1928), N.Timofeeva (“Lace maker”, 1929) and V.Ageev (“Riazan lace makers”, 1980).
It is known [1, 2] that bobbin lace making as an applied art arose in West, South and Central Europe at the end of the 16th century. Literary and art monuments in museums of France, Netherlands, Italy, Great Britain, Spain, USA and other countries are evidences of high skill of lace makers at the 16th-17th centuries.
Mass fabrication of bobbin lace became available due to a pair of “fine” metal process technologies, namely – gold and silver wire-drawing, steel and brass pins production. Metal thread was the main material for lace and pins were necessary to form lace pattern.
Bobbin laces were imported to Russia at large scale by Russian and foreign merchants during reign of Ivan IV “The Terrible” at the second half of the 16th century. Laces were used to adorn aristocracy national dress and chasuble.
Next 100-150 years lace makers in West Europe were assimilating cheep local and imported raw material for thread spinning – at first long-fibred flax (linen) and wool, then cotton from colonies. Low prime cost made laces accessible to various strata of society. Bobbin lace from France, Belgium and Italy, guipure lace of Spain, Brabant curtain tulle lace of Netherlands were known all over the world as well as in Russia.
European traditions of lace making were brought to North America, India, Australia and South-East countries.
Bobbin lace making was sawn into fertile soil of Russia. There were opened plants for wire-drawing of gold and silver thread, golden copper thread twisted with silk thread at the beginning of the 18th century. Near the same time small producers’ artels appeared to make bobbin laces for sale. Mass art handicraft centers with own lace making traditions arisen in many Russian provinces: Moscow (Zvenigorod, Podolsk, Serpuchov), Saint Peterburg (Kirishi), Tver (Kalyazin, Torzhok), Tula (Belev, Odoev), Ryazan (Mikhailovo, Sasovo), Orel (Mtsensk), Lipetsk (Elets), Vyatka (Kukarka), Kostroma (Galitch), Nizhni-Novgorod (Balakhna, Katunki, Gorodetz), Yaroslavl (Rostov, Romanov). Original Russian bobbin lace school was generally recognized at the 18th -19th centuries.
The lace handicraft fell down at the second half of 19thcentury because of machinery lace invention and demographic changes. In addition Russian lace making centers was brought down during several politic and economic collapses at the 20th century. After-effects of the social disasters are seen up to current days. There are real dangerous to loss art handicrafts in some Russian provinces.
However there are weighty reasons for optimism. Lace making as decorative applied art saved its meaning at the 21st century despite of all. Flow of book editions and publications in the World Wide Web are striking illustrations of a lace making revival everywhere. The art handicraft fairs are organized annually in Moscow. Everybody can see plaited and weaved production of all provinces, get consultation (master-class), show own skill. Art works, threads, instruments and devises can be acquired there.
Such a fair take place in Western Europe and over the Ocean but it have greater scale and scope there. A lot a people all over the world are involved in the bobbin lace making nowadays.
Main feature of modern lace handicraft is it became the best hobby for some people or the best psychotherapeutic means for other one. A commercial proposition became secondary for the most of people. At the same time high skill laces (masterpieces of the art) are of great value in commercial sense too. Naturally, as in any art there are wide range of mastery – from beginner’s work up to unsurpassed craftsmanship.
Everybody has limitless possibilities for self-perfection in the art.
Uninitiated look at lace and see the “parade” side of lace making only. They do not suspect it has a routine and very prosaic aspect. The fact is lace makers’ eyes became tired of plaiting for a long hours. Prolonged motionless sitting is rather uncomfortable for her backbone. Her fingers suffer from pushing pins into a pillow and lifting them backward.
It is very important to deliver lace makers from labor-intensive auxiliary operations and as far as possible make easier the plaiting process. These purposes are achieved when a work place is equipped with various instruments and devices that make the work easier and more pleasant, and above all – reduction of time for routine but inevitable operations.
Laying aside technique details and art aspects of lace making, authors of the book take upon themselves a feasible task only – to consider technique means that can facilitate the labor of lace makers, especially working at home.
To our regret an equipment for lace making is scarcely elucidated in Russian and foreign literature on the subject-matter. It is mentioned usually passing by the start sections of books on lace techniques. Devices can be seen sometimes on a background of a photo showing lace making. As a rule, very archaic equipment is demonstrated there.
Various constructions are described in the manual including published model as well as contrivances made by the authors. We hope that our experience will be useful to somebody who likes domestic creative work. Some our contrivances probably will attract attention of professional designers working on lace making equipment.