Friday, January 25, 2008

Brussels, Brugges, Honiton vs Tape Lace ~ Which is it?

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When in doubt ask an expert!

The study of lace is a vast field and one that requires much diligence to sort out. Sometimes I think I might have it right only to find I don't. Case in point was the identification of this lovely piece of lace of what I thought tape is actually hand Brussels.

My lace guru was only to obliging to give me this concise detail of the difference between hand Brussels, Brugges & Honiton vs tape lace. Below is her definition. I find this information invaluable and hope you will, too. By studying the photo and her text below the difference will become apparent. ~~~~~~~~

"Tape laces are made of "tape" or ribbon... straight sides, no shift of dimension, no bursting into flowers without lots of gathers and folds. Watch the flow of the threads. If the threads actually turn when the vine turns, and portions get wider and thinner to go with the design... its likely not tape. Check the clover leaves. There are no folds or gathers. The threads curve beside each other as they are laid, some threads longer than others. There is a ridge of cabled threads going across the sprig to give dimension to the leaflets. This also puts the center vein of the leaves slightly off center. Check the big flowers. Their edges that are on the outside border of the lace have picots, the rest of the same petals do not, because they are not touching the edge of the lace. Had they been tape, there would have been identical picots all around the whole petal. Check out the little flowers at the edge. Same thing. Picots where they are the outside edge, and no picots where the petals are inside the lace. The sprig that looks like three lumpy bits is continuation of the straight stem. Same threads, not cut and new work added. The flowers that meet the top straight edge have clothstitch threads going outside of the petals to meet the straight edge ONLY where the petals meet the straight edge. Yardage tape cannot predict when this might happen. Check the junction of the big flower and the three stems. The stems taper to fit into the space of the petals. The edge stitch outlines disappear when the stems are too close together to have room for that. They aren't just cut off. In the big flower, the petals are built from the center circle, not added on. Honiton, Brussels, and Brugges, have nearly identical motifs except for scale and density of threads. They are all made in pieces, but sometimes the pieces are made for a specific item such as this yardage, so joinings are made as the petals progress, not later additions. There are fill-in brides, but they are bobbin made and joined to each motif as they work the pattern, not skinny yardage sewn on later.All use nice square talleys like this one. Honiton doesn't miss an opportunity to fill in with them. It is tighter work and smaller. Brussels is often airy, quite small, and uses a variety of fillings... talleys, x's, spiders, smushes, blanks.... Brugges is large in comparison and uses whatever fills it likes. Scale, density, fillings decide which it is, and quality adds to the mix. There is good, splendid, and wretched, of all of them. Find a piece of known Battenburg with flowers, leaves and scrolls in your collection, and take a lens to both of these. The battenburg is trying to copy this and does a fair job, but the clues are in the construction. In this lace, every thread is deliberately laid to be this pattern the first time. In Battenburg the ribbon is made straight by the yard first, and forced into curves in a later life. This piece is a better quality due to the motifs being made FOR this yardage, not a yardage assembled of stockpiled finished bits. "

~~~~~~Please read further her clever analogy of the study of these laces.....

"You guessed it. I REEEEally want you to see the differences of the laces :)) They are like a stadium full of children. All of them look "like children", till you figure out that one is your niece. Another is your neighbor's son. Then they start to look quite different. Of 600 blonde children you can pick out your own in a flash. The eyes are different, the hair, the curve of the chin, the curious bend of eyebrow that everyone in your family has..... Laces are like this. They are thread.. mostly, and lots of air, a simple enough definition. The neighbor's twins are an instant recognition, but which is John and which is Jack, takes a close and thoughtful look. The rest of the kids are like the rest of the laces. Eventually you can name them all. " ~~~~~~~~

I only have the highest regard and recommendation for this lady. If you need help in identification of any lace please contact her as she would be most happy to give you her appraisal fees for her service. Furthermore, I have found her service invaluable as not only am I having the lace identified but I am also being taught how to identify... in other words, a teaching lesson. Contact her here

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