My interest was renewed on a recent trip, a river cruise through the Netherlands and Belgium. The experience was the paramount purpose of the trip, but for "souvenirs" all I wanted to find and buy on the trip were a small piece of real Delft blue ware and a small piece of antique Belgian lace. (Well, there was the chocolate, of course; never fear that I took care of that! Chocolate isn't a souvenir, it's life.)
Our first stop in Belgium was in Antwerp, and I fell in love with the city immediately. On the square I found a shop with modern handmade lace, and I picked up a few pieces. You have to be careful that you're buying handmade, rather than machine-made, lace. Modern handmade pieces are affordable, while still being beautiful.
The "egg" of Brugges--the medieval city center--sees many tourists and counts lace as one of its attractions. They even have a map made from lace along a canal.
I saw similar pieces of modern lace in most of the shops, so they are likely buying from the same workshop--but they're still lovely and I bought a few more pieces. (The workshop is in Belgium, and Belgium does have a minimum wage so, while they may not be making what they're worth, the lace makers are not in a 5-cent- a- week sweatshop situation.)
But I was looking for a piece of antique lace. A very small piece. Because antique lace is pricey. (If only those poor women could have gotten today's prices, or even anything CLOSE to that amount, as they worked themselves into blindness for very little pay.)
Eventually I found a lace shop with small pieces of antique lace, and I fell in love. A very small piece was as much as I could afford and there were several framed pieces that made the decision difficult but my eye had been immediately drawn to a small, exquisite piece of needlepoint lace. (It looks as if it was cut from a larger/longer piece--I can only hope that the larger pieces was not sacrificed solely for the purpose of selling smaller pieces.) It came home with me, and I'm still deciding where it's going to live in my house. Perhaps it will move around.
On our way back to the bus to the ship we walked along a cobblestone street with houses where lace makers would come from the rural areas to sell their lace--you can see carvings of lace makers' heads above the doors.
Now I am itching to do some bobbin lace making again, so I went in search of my pillow and bobbins. It was a 2-day effort. I don't have a large house but my craft closets can be a bit daunting. Yesterday I gathered my courage and dug into the downstairs closet, with success! I'm back to the beginning with learning and it will be a LONG time before I do any finer lace (assuming I'm willing to practice) but the bobbins and the process are fun and relaxing.
I'll write more about my lace making adventures, though it may be a little while before I have anything worth writing about. I'm still aiming for that crazy quilting lace! (I am including an Irish crochet rose motif in a class sample crazy quilt; that's something, right??)