From Collector to Curator

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In the fleeting span of perhaps thirty years I have gone from being a lace collector, finding and buying lace on travels to Europe, to lacemaker, studying how lace was made mostly to identify and understand the pieces I was finding, to dealer, washing mending, and selling pieces from my collection to finance the purchase of something ever more curious, to author,  encouraging others to enjoy vintage lace as much as I do.

All this adds up to being a curator of old lace: maintaining a constantly changing collection of antique lace and related materials; telling the stories in those threads to encourage others to use and enjoy, study and make, the marvelous and fascinating human achievements that are antique lace. 

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18th Century Motifs for Needle Lace --  or what?

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Cutwork Alencon:  Collect Lace,  not Names

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What do you call lace with Alencon background and fillings, and embroidered cutwork clothwork?

UPDATE:  Another piece found


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A COPY THIS selection of swans for bobbin lacemakers  

NEW SWAN ADDED July 25, 2013


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A mysterious piece with parading donkey, sheep, hound dog, elephant, prancing pony, large rabbit, and rooster in coarse point ground.

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In the beginning, I reckoned that antique lace would be easier to study than say jewelry, pottery, art, or furniture, all which had been made for thousands of years.  Handmade lace as we know it came into existence in the late 1500s, and was replaced, so I thought, by machine lace about 1800.  That left only a few hundred years to deal with. Assuming (Ah, that dangerous word!)  production of handmade lace was governed by lacemaking capitals and schools, all of which went out of business in the 1800s, it would be relatively easy to become an expert in the subject.The good and bad news is that all of my assumptions were folly.  Lace is sui generis -- a substance like no other.  There were indeed some highly regulated lace industries but people are creative and perverse and always and anywhere did what they pleased. And machines sometimes made lace more beautiful than some handmade.

And so lace absolutely refuses to be defined exactly.  Even defining what is lace itself becomes a subject of controversy.  What is "real" lace? How shall we label each piece?  Who gets to decide?  We'll discuss that here too.  Have a stash of old lace from your greatgrandmother's attic?  This will be the place to figure out what it is and what to do with it. Keep a deteriorated find as-is, or recycle the pieces?  We'll talk about that too.

KATE'S LIBRARY for the Inspired Lacemaker

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For the bobbin  lacemaker who want's to take inspiration from various sources and develop a unique piece --

Here is Kate's list of books with construction tips that aren't specific to one  type of bobbin lace.


CANTU BOBBIN LACE:  Remembering Mary McPeek

Cantu bobbin lace for me will everyway and always be associated with Mary McPeek.

Come read memories left by readers, and share yours -- and pictures of what you learned from Mary.

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The stories will be constantly changing.Rather than write another book, I decided to follow the great tradition of the nineteenth century, when authors serialized their books, bringing out a chapter a week or month. Except the chapters of my online book will leap wildly from subject to subject, century to century.  What fun this new electronic world is!  It lets me do that.  And I also can play in color.

Don't expect the sections of this website to have clear lines between them -- I have always colored outside the lines.  The tabs at the top of the page exist to keep a bit of order -- but there always will be lots of links between!

Please join in the fun, and send your friends.

As new stories and items are added, I do my best to check everything, but at some point loose track. Please let me know if you find things that don’t work — that may be the only way they will get fixed.  Thanks!

Elizabeth      219-659-1124    Elizabeth Kurella 2014