Vologda lace

Our river trip in May 2013 took us through the Vologda oblast (region). We made a stop to visit the Kirillo-Belozersky monastery.  Unfortunately it was a cold, dull and drizzly day – the only dreary day we had on the trip – and I didn’t take any photographs there.

What the name ‘Vologda’ brings to mind to me is lace – Vologda being probably the most famous centre of lace-making in Russia. (Yelets in Orel province is also an important centre.) I know very little about the technique of making lace (more about embroidery and printed textiles), though I have quite a few examples in my own collection of Russian textiles. Lace features in many styles of historical Russian dress, in all layers of society.

From Russian Bobbin Lace: ‘There are two main types of lace, namely needlepoint lace, made with a needle, and bobbin (or pillow) lace – the traditional type of lace-making in Russia. Bobbin lace is made on a pillow, to which the parchment or paper pattern is pinned. A number of threads, with a pair of bobbins attached to each, are tied to the pins, and the bobbins are moved from side to side to form a twist, a braid, or a clothlike fabric.

In turn, there are two types of bobbin lace. The first is straight lace, made on a stationary pillow and worked in one direction as a single piece, pattern and ground together. The second is part lace, which, as its name suggests, is made in a number of small pieces, afterwards hooked or sewn together, or linked by separately worked tie-bars (or brides) or mounted on a network ground.’

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Two lace mats bought at TSUM (department store in Moscow), in 1987

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‘Vologodskii Sunset’: from ‘Russian Lace Patterns’ (Korableva & Cook)

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Woman’s festive clothes. Kargopol, Archangel Province. Late 19th-early 20th centuries. Vologda lace stole – late 19th c. (Bobbin lace in linen thread). State History Museum, Moscow

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The museum of lace in the city of Vologda features in a slideshow on the russiatrek.org blog, and some contemporary lacemakers explain their craft on a ‘Russia Today’ video.

The patchwork designs used throughout the branding of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics drew on motifs from many different Russian crafts, including Vologda lace.  Have a look at the website of Bosco, the supplier who devised the look. Click on ‘Look of the Games’ to find more about all these crafts.

Bibliography:

There are lots of books about lace in Russian but here are a few in English:

Russian Bobbin Lace. Valeria Faleyeva. Aurora Art Publishers, Leningrad, 1986

Russian Lace Patterns. Anna Korableva & Bridget M Cook. Batsford, London, 1996

Russian Embroidery and Lace. L Yefimova & R Belogorskaya. Thames & Hudson, London, 1987 (also published in Russian by Izobrazitelnoye Iskusstvo, Moscow, 1982)

Two more general books, which mention Russian lace:

Antique Lace: Identifying Types and Techniques. Heather Toomer. Schiffer, Atglen PA, 2001

Lace: The Elegant Web. Janine Montupet & Ghislaine Schoeller. Abrams, New York, 1990

 

 

 

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