The blue mantle is still underway, as I got sidetracked making a lovely lace mantilla… made from the remnant lace I scrounged at a couple of shops in Barcelona:
It was fun learning to sew the embroidered laces (for now tacked together gently without any knots, so they can be undone and redone if necessary), and it seemed quite possible that it’s not too difficult to embroider on netting to make one’s own designs. I used a piece of sheer gold-white organza underneath as a support, though I’m not sure that’s necessary.
Poking around in craft and notions shops in Barcelona I discovered troves of lace. I bought a diverse stock of remnants. I was fascinated by the transparency, the delicacy, the cloud-like quality of the laces, especially those which involve embroidered edging on a sheer net support. I arranged some of them around my little travel-sized image of Our Lady of Aparecida, so that she appears surrounded by a cloud. I began to imagine how lace could be added to my own clothing, and was inspired to see lace cuffs and collars even on common sweaters and blouses around town. Perhaps one goes Elizabethan, making detachable lace collars so that they don’t get damaged by washing.
One evening I passed a craft shop I hadn’t seen before, and went in to poke around. Two ladies at a work table were making bobbin lace: twining thread in and around patterns of pins set into foam supports. The threads were wound around wooden bobbins which hung down the front of the work, keeping light tension on the threads. I watched, fascinated, that this skill has not been lost. In fact, Barcelona is chock full of sewing shops with work tables around which regular classes and work sessions are held. Embroidery, knitting, quilting, cross-stitch, lace-making, sewing, Japanese embroidery and other crafts seem very popular. Lots of small shops sell handmade clothes, too.
I was astonished later when my mother said she’d made all her own clothing from the age of 14 onward. I brought drawing supplies on this trip instead of sewing supplies (mostly because sewing stuff has to go in checked luggage, lest you put someone’s eye out with it). But I was fretful without my sewing and went and bought a small set of embroidery needles, thread, trim, fabric and so on, and began dismantling the mantle of Our Lady of Aparecida in order to remake it fancier.
Here’s a lovely short film about lace making in France.