Teeter-Totter Angels

The combination of elegance, a bit of secrecy -- these are after all cravat ends, which would be gathered when worn, and the little scene obscured -- and sheer silliness of a cherub's pumpkin face makes this pair of lace pieces irresistable.


I am not altogether convinced those little frolicking angels were in there when I bought the pieces. There is enough mischief in that face, as if they could materialize -- or flit away - at will

The cravat ends were part of a brown, stained, wrinkled and vaguely smelly handful of lace that I bought at the Beaumarchais flea market in Paris. 

Our little group of travelers -- me, my sister and two friends -- were on our way to the better-known Marche Aux Puces at Clignancourt when we were distracted by the tents just across Boulevard Bonmarchais from our Underground stop at Froissart.

We decided to walk down to the next Underground stop at Bastille, and peruse those flea market stalls on the way. My companions were already disappearing down the street when I noticed the little bits of lace among dirty boxes, bric-a-brac and brocante on the dealer's table.  

I felt like I was five years old again, and wailing on the street 'Joanieeee --- wait for meeeee!"

I had just minutes to choose, negotiate and pay for the lace. I noticed that whatever it was, there were a pair, that there were scrolls of Brussels bobbin lace and a background mesh of Point de Gaze, with a few holes. For the right price I could take a chance.  The scrollwork appeared to be of better-than-usual quality.  

Teeter totter scrollwork197

That sealed the deal.  I negotiated down to whatever Euros were in my purse and ran to catch up with my quartet.

The little scoundrel-angels of course are the main attraction to the piece.  But there is a lot more going for these cravat ends than the figures

Teeter totter fulcrum198

The teeter-totter does balance on the top of the lace scrollwork design, but in addition there is a fulcrum projecting behind the scrollwork, adding a bit of dimensionality to the design, turning the top of the scrollwork perhaps into a log?

Teeter totter two PDGs199

Another unusual, interesting feature:  The background is a point de gaze mesh, but done with two different weights of thread.  The main background is slightly heavier thread than that used behind the needle lace fillings.  An echo of the Alencon technique, around 1800,  of using a petite-reseau along the bottom of the lace. 

Again, adding a bit of interest and dimension to the pieces.

All in all, pieces that could hold interest for many years of display and study.

I washed them thoroughly enough to remove dangerous and unpleasant residue of any sort, and clean enough to reside in my collection -- at least for the moment.  One never knows when those angels will take a notion to travel.

I did not attempt any repairs of the mesh.

These holes are in the middle of the mesh, not easy to mend.  The pair of cravat ends are also more suited to display than to wearing.  Any more significant washing and mending would serve no real purpose, and would possibly cause more harm.

Lacemakers:  please see the COPY THIS article, Impish Angels to Copy, suggesting how these cravat ends might inspire new lace designs.

The final reason these are among my favorites:  they are spurring the writing of my next book -- A Connoisseur's Guide to Judging Antique Lace.

Watch for that in 2015!


Posted  October 2013

lacecurator@gmail.com  www.lacemerchant.com      219-659-1124    Elizabeth Kurella 2014