Monday, April 19, 2010

Needle lace

I'm back from a glorious weekend immersed in needlework. I have wanted to take a class with Diane Clements for a long time. She does some beautiful needle lace!

As we were toiling away at our less-than-perfect samples I kept thinking about the beautiful laces that I've seen in Italy. My neck and back were aching after only one day - how must those lace makers feel? And in the days of old without ergonomic chairs and good lighting? It really gives you an appreciation for something when you sit in someone else's position.

Last year while in Italy I went to visit a master needle lace maker on the island of Burano, near Venice. Lucia Costantini invited us into her home and showed us her art. Oh, and it was definitely art.

The exquisite beauty of her pieces made the tears run down my cheeks and I couldn't speak. The work! Countless hours of creation, tiny little masterpieces, large colourful laces, scenes, marine life, symbology... I could have stayed there all day.

Lucia shows us how to make a couple of stitches working on her needle lace pillow:

This is a flower brooch made by Lucia:

My stitches will never be this beautiful but it is very nice to have a piece of this art to look at up close and admire!

Here you can watch Lucia go through the Museum of Lace on Burano. Even if you cannot understand the history of lace that she recounts, there are lace makers at work to watch and samples of different laces shown.

More of Lucia Costantini's lace art can be seen on the Tuttoricamo website, look under "Prominent Characters".

A Venetian Lacemaker is a small book about Lucia, Burano and needle lace by Vima deMarchi Micheli who brought Lucia to the U.S. to teach in the 1990s.

Here is the legend of Burano lace. On this page is also a link to the lace museum and how you can visit it.

If you go to Venice, you can catch a boat to Burano but beware! Chinese imitation lace is everywhere and will be cheap. If it's authentic, it will be expensive – though even expensive prices do not begin to cover the time, expertise and talent that goes into this amazing art.


  1. Hi Jeanine, I'm happy you enjoyed your class.
    But now, we want to see your "less-than-perfect" sample!
    Please, please, please... :-D
    Ciao, Stefania

  2. I love embroidery & lace making & I visit this blog often. Have a look at my blog on:
    Thankyou for all of the info you have here - I enjoy visiting it very much.
    Also visit my page within my niece's site called Lyn's Threadwork on:

  3. I had the opportunity to take a class from Lucia when Vima brought her to Calif. in the 90's. I actually purchased one of Lucia's large pictorial pieces during her visit. I would be happy to show you a picture of it, if you would like.

  4. Hi Karen, I'd love to see pics of your lace, you can get my contact info from my profile! Lucky you to take a class from Lucia!!!!!

  5. Sto provando ad avvicinarmi a questa tecnica di ricamo e ti ringrazio per il tuo blog. Saluti da Nunzia