HOLLIE POINT LACE

Characteristics

A flat lace, made in a continuous strip Rows on twisted buttonhole stitches worked over stretched threads Giving appearance of clothwork Simple designs created by leaving tiny spaces between the buttonhole stitches.

History

Hollie Point is regarded as the only true English needlelace. The twisted buttonhole stitch differentiates it from the European laces. Made between 1690 to around 1820, it is thought that Hollie Point was used only for Church purposes because prior to the Reformation (early 16th C) all work made in the nunneries and monasteries would be known as “Holy Point”.

From the 17th C, Hollie Point was used on baptismal wear-bibs, bonnets, mittens, shirts and gowns. At this time, when the Puritans adopted the designs with their religious symbols and texts, Hollie Point became used more for domestic and personal art and pieces worked became family heirlooms. The embroidery was stitched by ladies of the household or the nanny rather than by professionals.

A very flat lace, made in a continuous strip with neat straight rows of tiny buttonhole stitches worked from one side of the strip to the other. The design is formed by regular spacing of the stitches so that gaps are like small pinholes. Eventually the design appears in outline and detail like a pinwork picture.

Designs are naïve, unconnected motifs with a religious influence. Lamb of God, the Holy Dove, Lily of the Annunciation, Star of Bethlehem, the Tree of Knowledge and Adam and Eve, often used with initials, dates, crowns, coronets, birds, and flowers with a very geometric look. Its beauty lies in the minuteness of its portrayals.

References

Earnshaw, P. The Identification of Lace, Shire publications, Buckinghamshire, 1994
Gwynne, J. The Illustrated Dictionary of Lace, Batsford, 1997
Toomer, H. Lace: A Guide to Identification of Old Lace Types & Techniques,
Batsford, London, 1989.
Voysey, C. Needlelace in Photographs, Batsford, London ,1987, pages 41-43.

© Valerie Cavill, 2008

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