Songs of Lace

French lace cravat with a hunting theme, 1679, one of the incredible pieces on show at the Met.

I couldn’t resist posting these photos of some of the incredible pieces of centuries-old lace now on display at the Met, as part of the museum’s “Gems of European Lace” exhibit. Okay, I admit, the title sounds pretty snoozy, and it would be easy while walking the Met’s halls to cruise right past. But what’s fascinating to me is to imagine the Venetian, French and Flemish hands that created these delicate pieces of art, the hours it took, the thoughts that drifted through each artist’s mind as she stitched. I’d read somewhere that many of the most intricate lace patterns were memorized with a song that would remind the lacemaker of the needle’s proper rhythm. (One day I’ll have to write about my one-day stint as a lacemaker in Paris. Short story: It was a disaster.)

So “Punto in Aria,” the kind of needle lace created from ‘stitches in the air’, is one of the entries in Encyclopedia of the Exquisite. If you check out these photos from the Met you’ll see why.


Detail from the cravat…

An image from the “Gems of European Lace” exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.