A Selection of Books on Lace and Wedding History

PieceWork adores books about lace and there is no better occasion to represent this ethereal fabric than a wedding! Here are a few of our favorite on lace and wedding history, which were reviewed by Allison Mackin in the September/October 2008 issue.

lace and wedding history
Early History of Irish Crochet Lace
Mademoiselle Riego and Irish Crochet Lace
By Barbara Ballantyne
Drummoyne, New South Wales, Australia: Barbara Ballantyne, 2007. Distributed by Lacis, Berkeley, California. Softbound, 64 and 32 pages, $40 and $20, respectively. ISBN 978-0-95802-352-8 and 978-0-95802-353-5, respectively.

Early History of Irish Crochet Lace begins in the 1840s at the time of the Great Irish Famine. Ballantyne explains how crochet evolved from being a means of making warm clothing to the production of fine decorative lace as a major source of income and traces the influence of other lace styles of the time on the unique style now known as Irish lace. Clear black-and-white detail photographs and an up-close examination of the structure of Irish crochet are welcome additions.

lace and wedding history

In Mademoiselle Riego and Irish Crochet Lace, Ballantyne examines the role of the English needlework designer Eleonore Riego de la Brancharière in the development of Irish crochet. Of particular interest is Ballantyne’s exploration, based on historical records and accounts, of Riego’s claim that she invented Irish crocheted lace. Engravings of designs, many of which are Riego’s, from English pattern books published in the 1840s add visual impact. The intriguing history of Irish crocheted lace has just become even more intriguing with these two books.

lace and wedding history

Wedded Bliss: The Marriage of Art and Ceremony
Paula Bradstreet Richter, ed.
Salem, Massachusetts: Peabody Essex Museum, 2008. Hardbound, 192 pages, $29.95. ISBN 978-0-87577-214-1.

Wedded Bliss looks at weddings as sources of artistic inspiration, offering a global perspective on wedding rituals, traditions, and symbolism. Each of the five chapters examines a different aspect of the wedding, for example, the cultural background of the Euro-American white wedding and the history of Korean sumptuary laws. There are also discussions about wedding cakes, traditional jewelry, and dowry textiles. This lavishly illustrated companion to a 2008 exhibition of the same name at the Peabody Essex Museum is a fascinating look at the art of the wedding.

If you’re inspired by these wonderful books on lace and weddings, read “A Lace Wedding Veil Becomes a Family Tradition”.

Learn more about lace in PieceWork!

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