Saturday, January 22, 2011

Branscombe lace

A big white moon is rising over the trees behind the house. Droplets of condensation have formed on the storm windows and the misty glass defuses moonlight through the room. I'm in a pensive mood, curled up under the covers looking at the spoils of an epic thrift hunt. I had my eye open for vintage handiwork and the universe delivered textiles with abundance.


This breathtakingly detailed needle lace blouse took the prize. I found it at a consignment store for next to nothing. Holding it in my hands, I wonder who wove this delicate web. I can't even imagine how long it must have taken and what thoughts must have drifted through the mind if it's maker in all those hours of focused attention and repetitive motion.




I was so intrigued by the whimsical scallop patterns that I felt compelled to do some research. This is an example of a needle and tape construction, introduced in the 1860's, called Branscombe lace, originating from Devonshire, England. Bold handcrafted designs became fashionable at this time as an alternative to the more readily available machine made laces. Its organic patterns could not be mass manufactured. At the turn of the century Branscombe lace became a popular craft. Ladies could by kits to make "renaissance lace" at home. I'm guessing this piece date from the twentieth century, it's in perfect condition and the shape is fairly modern.


There is something indescribably special about wearing a garment made by hand with loving attention and personal pride. I feel honored to surround myself in the creative force of this nameless remarkable woman. I respect the intelligence and time it took to learn this craft and make this one of a kind work of art. I hope she would be pleased that her creation is still loved and appreciated.


suffragette said...

it's really beautiful and its intricacy is pretty astounding

Andi of My Beautiful Adventures said...

Wow it's so gorgeous!!! Perfect for the Summer!

Anonymous said...

You are an exceptional costumer. Though I am only a costumer by hobby there is to much I relish reading your blog. Have you seen the site "Your Wardrobe Unlock'd"? Am going to give Cathy your blog address and tell her about you.

enid and edgar said...

A wonderful find indeed! I'm sure the maker of this fine lace would be quite happy to know her creation is in your hands now - to be loved and cherished for many more years to come.

hope you are well, friend.

susanna said...

Oh my gosh, this is an incredible piece! Lucky you for finding it. I like how you thought of the person who made this lace blouse. It must come with a good story. Perhaps it was a wedding gift for a well loved daughter? Or perhaps it was made by the bride-to-be herself. So what are you going to do with it? Will you display it in your home?

Micha Merrick said...


Postscript- I had never heard of the "Unlock'd" site. a I'm glad you told me, It's very inspiring.

Anonymous said...

This equisite lace is as beautiful as you are!

I love your pensive post and the window to the past and the person unknown. Can you imagine how much time was devoted to this labor of love? Your thoughts and appreciation of it does justice to it's creation.

Will you wear it on your lovely willow frame or will you frame it for the wall, as a work of art that it truly is?

mckenzie said...

This is so, so, so beautiful! I found a skirt from the late 1800's at my grandmother's antique shop last month. It has three wide bands of lace similar to this at the bottom and the rest is just simple white cotton. Isn't handiwork like this just incredible?!

Micha Merrick said...

Hi Mckenzie, Where is your grandmothers store, does she live in Maryland too?

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