LACE MANUFACTURE. This very plea sing branch of industry exhibits instructive features in respect to the application of ma chinery to what was before mere hand-labour. We must glance at the subject in its two aspects of pillow-lace and bobbin-net.
Pillow Lace :—Real lace, such as that which often obtains so high a price, is mostly made of flax thread, and is produced in the following way. The lace-worker sits on a stool or chair, and places a hard cushion on her lap. The desired pattern is sketched upon a piece of parchment, which is then laid clown upon the cushion; and she inserts a number of pins through the parchment into the cushion, in places determined by the pattern. She is also provided with a number of small bobbins, on which threads are wound ; fine thread being used for making the meshes or net ; and a coarser kind, called gymp, for working the device. The work is begun at the upper part of the cushion by tying together the threads in pairs, and each pair is attached to one of the pins. The threads are then twisted one round another in various ways, according to the pattern ; the bobbins serving as handles as well as for a store of material, and the pins serving as knots or fixed centres around which the threads may be twisted. The pins inserted in the cushion at the com mencement are merely to hold the threads ; but as fast as each little mesh is made in the progress of the working, other pins are in serted, to prevent the thread from untwisting ; and the device on the parchment shows where these insertions are to occur.
The kinds of lace which have obtained different names have certain peculiarities in the character of the mesh. Brussels paint has a network made by the pillow and bob bins, and a pattern of sprigs worked with the needle. Brussels ground has a six-sided mesh, formed by twisting four flaxen threads to a perpendicular line of mesh. Brussels wire ground is of silk; the meshes are partly straight and partly arched, and the pattern is wrought separately by the needle. Mechlin lace has a six-sided mesh formed of three flax threads twisted and plaited to a perpen dicular line : the pattern being worked in the net. Valenciennes lace has a six-sided mesh formed of two threads, partly twisted and plaited : the pattern being worked in the net. Lisle lace has a diamond-shaped mesh, formed of two threads plaited to a perpendicular line. Alencae lace has a six sided mesh of two threads. Alnntion point is formed of two threads to a perpendicular line, with octagonal and square meshes alternately. Honiton lace is distinguished by the beauty of the devices, worked by the needle. Buckingham lace is mostly of a commoner description, and somewhat resembles that of Mellon.
Pillow lace, such as we have just described, is supposed to have been first made in Saxony in the loth century : the earlier Italian lace having been wrought by the needle. From
Saxony it extended to Flanders and France. In Brussels alone there were 10,000 females employed at lace-making at the close of the last century. The art was introduced into England soon after its invention in Saxony ; and it is curious that Honiton has produced the best kinds from that time to this. Through out the midland counties, especially Bedford, Buckingham, and Northampton, almost every town and village exhibits this manufacture ; but hand-made lace has suffered severely from the invention next to be noticed.
Bobbin-act :—About 1770 a stocking weaver at Nottingham, named Hammond, made the first attempt to imitate lace by a slight adap tation of his stocking-frame ; and many other persons gradually introduced improvements in the art ; but it was Mr. Heathcoat who, early in the present century, gave the chief impulse to the trade by the invention of his bobbin frame, which gave the name of bobbin net to machine-made lace. The manufacture sprang up into wonderful activity in and around Nottingham ; and though it has suf fered many fluctuations since it still constitutes a very notable department of Nottingham industry.
The cotton used in making bobbin net is mostly spun in Lancashire. The machines arc very costly and are seldom or never owned by the actual worker. They are among the most complicated apparatus employed in ma nufactures ; and when adapted for steam-power, and provided with the Jacquard apparatus for the production of figured net, the machines are sometimes worth 10001. a piece. One set of threads, which we may call the warp, is stretched in parallel lines up and down the machines; another set, equivalent to the weft, is wound round small bobbins ; and the meshes of the net-work are produced by these bobbins twisting in and around and among time vertical threads. After being woven or made, the net is gassed or singed to remove the little hairy filaments ; then embroidered or 'run' by females, if the better kind of net ; then mended if any of the meshes have given way ; then bleached ; then dyed, if if be black net; then dressed or stiffened with gum or starch ; and finally rolled and pressed.
Besides the specimens from Belgium, lace will form an important item in the number of things sent over from France to the Great Exhibition. The greatest in amount, and most remarkable for beauty, will be con tributed from Nancy. Besides several pieces of minor importance, one especially is intended to attract groat attention. It is a Counterpane, three yards long and two and a half broad. In the middle is embroidered a bouquet of roses and poppies, and a garland all round of the same flowers, of a large size, all embroi dered an Muck with cotton of size No. 120, the appearance created being that of a white satin texture. The leaves are embroidered on what is termed a sanded ground. The tracery cost three months of labour.