It is a craft that is said to have decorated the robes of Pharaohs, the ancient Greeks and the Romans who edged their togas with lace made of gold thread. Later the kings and queens of Europe wore exquisite, delicately crafted collars and cuffs of lace as they sat for their portraits. How many visitors to the Louvre or the Royal Academy of Arts have stood before a painting by one of the Masters and not marveled at his skill in capturing the intricate lace designs at the subject’s throat or wrist?
The art of lace making is alive and well in Burano, Italy. Mature women (and some young ladies) still practice this delicate and complex work. They sit outside their homes (making good use of the sunlight), demonstrating their techniques with their magnificent work displayed for sale.
In 1651, Jacob Van Eyck described the art of lace making…
"Of many Arts, one surpasses all. For the maiden seated at her work flashes the smooth balls and thousand threads into the circle... and from this, her amusement, makes as much profit as a man earns by the sweat of his brow, and no maiden ever complains, at even, of the length of the day. The issue is a fine web, which feeds the pride of the whole globe; which surrounds with its fine border cloaks and tuckers, and shows grandly round the throats and hands of Kings."