Sunday, November 21, 2010

A lacemaker's light

I found this amongst my stash today. I've always wanted to make a miniature lace pillow with real worked lace on it - this is still on the ten year plan, lol :)

These lights were used by lacemakers in the days before electricity, or even gas lighting. They needed good light for doing detailed work at night, and the glass globes reflected and focused the light of the candle directly onto the work, much like a magnifying glass can do. The candle height was adjustable as the candle burned down.

A lacemaker's lot was not a happy one - usually a woman made only one pattern of lace ad infinitum (boring . . .), and was paid by the yard. The payment was low, and part of the payment was sometimes in goods at a local merchant, who was also the lace dealer. Quite often the dealer could pay less, claiming low quality, if he was a scoundrel. This was a typical type of arrangement in the 18th and 19th centuries for craftspeople doing outwork.

This all ended with the arrival of machines which could produce lace cheaply.

I thought that this type of lighting arrangement would be an interesting one for alchemy and wizard scenes - or just add a candle beside your crystal ball . . .

I can't remember who made this - I bought it at the Sydney Minis Fair about ten years ago when I lived in Australia. It's very nicely made.

You can see a 1:1 pic of these lights here - and a good article about them.



  1. That is so interesting!!!!! I had never seen one of those before now. I am delighted to see this first one as such a perfect miniature too. I am going to have to see if I can find a 1: 1 scale photo of this. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. Thanks for the explanation, it is so interesting and this minature piece is exquisite.

  3. Catherine - I added a link to an article :)

  4. I love posts like this. I have gone to the link you gave and bookmarked it! Lacemaker's lamp! What a stroke of genius and this version is shared with 3 or 4 other lacemakers too :).

    Yours is an exact replica I think. A very celever idea! How did you know it was a lacemaker's lamp, Glenda? I never would have guessed :).

    When I was in Galle, Sri Lanka, which is know for their traditionally handmade laces, I went to a museum to see how laces were made. It is back breaking work! Do you still make laces, Glenda? Did I tell you my sis SuZ is in total awe of the fact that I know a lacemaker ? :):) LOL!

  5. Hi Sans!
    I made a *lot* of lace between 1984 and 1996, when I got nerve damage in my arm and had to give it up - I was heartbroken, I loved bobbin lace. It was studying the history of it that I learned about these lights.
    I have made a couple of pieces of lace recently, including a 1:12 spiderweb, but it hurts my arm :(
    BTW there is a thriving lacemaking scene in Chang Mai - interesting story, here -


  6. Thanks for sharing. Very interesting!


  7. I too have never seen it before! Thank you so much for sharing it with us, Glenda! I would never be that patient to make a lace on my own but they are so beautiful and delicate.
    But you are right - this could be a very interesting source of light in some creepy (or not ;))place.:)It is also great that people do recreate historical and unusual things in miniature.

  8. Tu eres la más sabia de todas :) Ninguna hemos visto esste artilugio antes. Una miniatura perfecta y muy bien documentada.
    Un placer pasar por aqui.
    Besos Clara

  9. If we had a competition for "what is the most unusual thing you have in your stash" I think this would win for sure. It's really interesting, thanks for sharing all the info.

  10. Glenda, this is absolutely amazing - thanks a lot for showing and telling. I've never heard of these lamps before. We call that making of lace "Klöppeln" in German, I really don't know how to say it in English - lol. If you're interested, here's a link to the German miniature artist Sabine Reckwerth who has a stunning variety of "Klöppelkissen" in her shop - pretty amazing and worth a look. You can find her at (Or if this doesn't work simply google "bibaminis" and take the category called "Nähzubehör"). Maybe you'll find that interesting.


  11. wow, I learn something new every time I come here.

    taht was very interesting thank you

    Marisa :)

  12. Thank you Glenda for the link to the article. I am inspired again!

  13. Glenda, gracias por este interesante post, por el enlace y sobre todo por mostranos esa preciosa pieza, es una maravilla.
    besitos ascension

  14. Love the idea that you can point your cursor at something and go click, et voila ... something new to learn everyday. How very ingenious this method of light was! I read somewhere, that when Thomas Edison's mother needed an emergency appendectomy in the middle of the night (before electrical lighting) he gathered large mirrors from around his neighbourhood, and placed them, side by side, against all the walls, with a phalanx of candles in front of them, magnifying the light so brightly the surgeon could see well enough to operate ... and that this was his impetus for harnessing electricity into a small, bright bulb.