Bobbin Lace Masterpiece

I would like to share a both inspiring and gloomy story this time.

My grandmother was abandoned as a child by her family, who did not want to raise her – she has lost her leg and staunchly religious catholic matriarch of the family refused to take care of a “cripple”. So they gave her to a cloister to be raised by nuns. She learned there bobbin lace making style specific to that region of Domažlice.

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

This piece is a tablecloth circa 60×80 cm and was started by my grandmother in that regional style. But she managed to only make some of the edges and corners before she died. My mother has kept those pieces and she intended to finish it at some time, but she could not get the right thread. After decades of searching both in real life and on the internet she found a vendor still selling what appeared to be the correct thread and she bought it.

Unfortunately, the new thread pieces did have slightly different color than the antique 50 years old ones (to be expected), so she could not simply continue her mother’s work. Therefore she started from scratch, only using grandmothers template for corners and edges.

For that I had to scan the template first.

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

And then make it black-white, so my mother can take it and draw a new one with the time-tested technique of taping it on glass under a new sheet of paper and tracing the lines per hand.

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

When the edges and corners were finished, she had to design the center part. She was not satisfied with her attempts and she requested my creative input. I proposed that chain of ovals with lobed edges around three stars, and she went with that idea and expanded it. They have a slightly different style, but I think it all works together.

So you see in effect a piece of art that took three-generations to complete, if you count my minuscule input. In the end, my mother has spent over 100 work hours making it, and used up over 1 km of thread. It is absolutely invaluable – and she gave it to me for my birthday this summer. I do not wish to use it as a tablecloth, so I framed it as a picture and I am in search of a piece of wall big enough to hang it on.

Sadly with me the bobbin-lace tradition in our family will die. I tried to learn it as a child and I was not bad at it, but I have way too many interests as it is so I forgot it again – and since probability of me ever having family converges to zero every year, I would not pass it on anyway.

But in the meantime, you can enjoy the pictures.


  1. Ice Swimmer says

    So much amazing detail and a gorgeous design.

    I like the way the mirrored and rotated lines go. It is like there are shapes and lines in artfully rotated set of coordinates, both rectangular and polar.

  2. kestrel says

    That is so beautiful! I would not wish to use it as a tablecloth either, but I think you did the right thing to frame it and continue to enjoy it. What an incredible work of art.

  3. avalus says

    Beautiful and yes, framing it seems like agreat idea! I had no idea how they are made so i spent the morning looking it up. A hard craft, it seems.

  4. voyager says

    It’s gorgeous, Charly. Your mother is a very talented artist. And the story is lovely too. It makes the piece priceless. What are your mother’s thoughts on completing it?

  5. says

    @voyager, there is no doubt she was very happy about it. And she got a good idea regarding the pieces her mother has made -- they look rather well framed, so she will frame them and give them as mementos to various family members.

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