Lace Braiding History

Throughout history lace-making has had many trade secrets where knowledge of pattern design technique was confined to an esoteric group of practitioners.  Originally lace was produced by hand as a highly skilled art form requiring years of experience due to its almost infinite design possibilities. Handmade lace can be traced to the fifteenth century in Italy, Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands,

The boom time for lace was the 18th century, when all bobbin lace was made by hand, and fashionable clothes used lace in collars and elsewhere. Delicate hand-made lace was very expensive, as it took so long to make, and this made it a symbol of luxury. Even coarser lace was popular, as people tried to copy the upper classes. Lacemaking used to produce a good income for rural workers, and often lace schools were set up to help the economy of a village.

Two events happened around the beginning of the 18th century which affected the bobbin lacemaking industry badly. Firstly, the French Revolution in 1789 made it advisable not to flaunt your wealth in your clothes, even in Britain, so lace became unfashionable, certainly for men and even for women. Even worse, lacemaking machines in Nottingham began to reproduce bobbin lace increasingly accurately.

The modern lace braiding machine is a direct descendant of the Barmen lace machines which were developed in the early 19th century. The modern lace braiding machine has been continually improved; as witnessed in the numerous European, Japanese, and international patents. Some notable improvements include electromagnetic actuation of driver plates which allow electronic pattern control and computerized design to operate seamlessly without Jacquard punch paper. The electronic control eliminated the need for a mechanical Jacquard mechanism.

Bradford Jamison of TEF Braids began his exploration with Jacquard lace brading machines and CAD systems in 2007.  Since that time he has steadily advanced the “art of patterning”, while generating  a library of more than 1,000 patterns—aesthetically linked to traditional woven arts of lacemaking, crochet, and macramé.

In the last decade Jamison has transformed the scope of production using lace braiding machines that historically manufactured only narrow fabrics and lace, into a technology that facilitates the production of zonally patterned fabric with "built in" function.

Source: :Jo Edkins' Bobbin Lace School
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