Over the last few years, a group of seven of us have been visiting the European Christmas Markets over a long weekend in December each year. This year, I was excited to hear that Brussels- Brugge was the destination!:) Brussels is the capital of the European Union, but it also has a beautiful old city and it is famous for it’s chocolates, beer and LACE. It was very difficult to find genuine lace and I soon realized that I had to look for antique lace to have any chance of seeing genuine lace. Even then, it was difficult to find real handmade lace in Brussels and to find sales people who were truthful about it’s origin, even though it was obvious to me that it couldn’t be handmade in Brussels when I looked at the price – nine euro for a genuine piece of lace!!! The shop would probably take 100% and a piece of genuine lace would take at least twenty hours to make! On our visit to Brugge, there were lace shops everywhere, but again it was all computerized lace. The computerized lace was very shiny white. The antique lace was an off -white. In Brugge, the sales people were more honest and explained that genuine lace makers couldn’t keep up with the tourist demand. One woman told me that 80% of tourists are happy to buy computerized Chinese lace. About 20% of people want to see the antique lace. She had some genuine lace made by students, who were happy to sell it at a low price – €12.50 for a small piece. I bought 2 pieces of students lace. In the past all types of lace were made in Brugge – Bobbin, needle and tape lace. Nowadays there are classes in bobbin lace. Unfortunately we were returning to Brussels that night, so we didn’t get a chance to see a class in progress. Luckily, I had attended an introduction talk and class on Bobbin lace in Cliffoney Sligo and I also saw some Honiton Lace makers at work when I was in Bolsena Ricama, Italy in September, so I am becoming more aware of good bobbin lace. Of course, when I am asked to teach Irish Crochet/Clones Lace with the Guild of Irish lace makers in Dublin, Ann Keller is the resident bobbin lace tutor! It is not one of traditional Irish laces, but is very popular in England and in Europe.
The seven of us outside the hotel where we were staying in Brussels
A genuine piece of Bobbin Lace. The shop owner said it took an expert bobbin lace maker over a year (I would say two years) to make this piece, which was in the ceiling of a lace shop in Brugge. She said it would cost the same as a car to buy, if it was for sale!:)
Bobbin lace made by students in Brugge.
Computerized Chinese lace in the Christmas Markets in Brugge.
This beautiful piece of Genuine Bobbin Lace
was priced at €64.
Máire outside a house in Brugge with a lace curtain.
A close up of the window in Brugge with a mini bobbin lace maker!
Genuine needle and net lace.
Computerized Chinese Needle lace in Brugge.
A mixture of genuine and computerized lace.
The linen, which is probably make in China or Japan, has insets of
computerized tape lace.
Ice skating in Brugge
The huge queue of people waiting to climb the stairs of the bell tower in Brugge
Máire and Josie outside the 14th century Bell tower in Brugge
Mary at the Christmas markets in Brugge, with the Bell tower in the background
Máire and Liz on the horse and carriage ride around Brugge
Máire and Evanne relaxing at night in Brussels:)
Pieces which I bought:Clockwise: A Chinese Christmas decoration (3 stars), genuine bobbin lace, made by a student in Brugge (€12.50) a net piece of genuine lace, made by a student in Brugge (€12.50).