Who doesn’t succumb to the charm of antique French Lace?
According to the oficial website for La Dentelle du Puy, the origin of lace making in France is unknown. However, legend has it that in 1407 a young girl highly skilled in embroidery was commissioned by the Bishop to create a cloak for a statue of the Black Madonna. She aspired to create a thing of beauty and eventually had the idea to attach strands of thread to pins. She then laced the threads together to create a delicate, transparent fabric that we now know as la dentelle. If you read French there’s a fascinating article outlining lace’s lengthy timeline here…. you’ll find politics, religion, commerce…who would have thought that lace had such a colorful history!
The area in the upper Loire around Puy le Velay became a center for the lace making trade early on. The tools required were, and still are, simple; a pattern, pins, bobbins, thread and what’s called the carreau. The carreau is the frame that sits in the lap of the lacemaker Most were hancrafted by the women dentellières themselves, each women adding her personality to her carreau through it’s decoration. Last weekend’s brocante yielded this treasure…
This particular carreau is special because it belonged to a child. The vintage paper covering is ever so charming. I have visions of a sweet young girl, head bowed, intent on learning a craft that her mother and grandmother and maybe even great grandmother had known. How old was she and what was her favorite pattern? I wish I knew.
And this collector’s piece is a sampler volume created during a young lace makers training. Eventually this book would be used to show prospective clients examples from which they could choose a pattern. This piece dates to the 1800’s and comes from the village of Crest, which is Provence.
One of the things that draws me to antiques, large and small, is the craft involved. So many of yesterdays treasures were wrought by hand and represent the time, talent and love of an individual. These cherished objects are the legacy of those skilled hands.
(Psssst, they’re both in the online shop….)