LACE, an ornamental fabric of threads so interwoven, twisted, braided, and knotted as to form definite patterns, of contrasted open and close structure. It is claimed that the art of embroidery was developed into needle lace early in the 15th century, by Greek refugees, who brought their art from the Ionian Is lands to Venice. By the middle of the 17th century lace had become the most desired adornment; and at the time when Colbert introduced its manufacture into France, under royal patronage, in 1660, it was so highly prized that extravagant nobles mortgaged their chateaux to ob tain decorations for their boot-tops and jabots for their necks. From then till the introduction of machine-made lace early in the 19th century, lace making remained one of the great industries of Italy, Spain, France, the Netherlands, and the S. of England.
Technically, lace consists of two ele ments: the pattern, flower, or gimp, which forms the closer-worked and more solid portion of the fabric; and the ground or filling, which serves to hold the pattern together and in its proper place.
Real or hand-made lace is of two dis tinct varieties: point or needle lace, which is made with a needle and is, in fact, the direct development of embroid ery (being the lace of Italy, Spain and their followers) ; and pillow lace, which is made by the braiding, plaiting, and knotting of threads whose foundations are pins stuck in a cushion or pillow held on the maker's lap (this is the lace of Flanders and the Netherlands). To these two schools of real laces, in which the finest linen threads are the material, have been added machine lace, which imi tates with marvelous closeness the more noticeable characteristics of the precious handmade treasures, but utilizes cotton and silk and even metal threads, produc ing such quantities of beautiful web at such moderate cost as to have practically killed the real lace industry.