• Document: Reticella: a walk through the beginnings of Lace
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Reticella: a walk through the beginnings of Lace with Sabrina de la Bere Defining Reticella: The word is Italian and translates as “little net”or “mesh the pattern was done on parchment paper. The paper is then stitch”. At its base, it is a form of cutwork where squares of pinned to a hard and slightly rounded sewing pillow. This in woven linen are removed. The remaining threads form a base, turn is held on the workers knee or rested on a table. or net, upon which the decorative stitches are placed. Reticella is primarily done with buttonhole stitch rather than running The primary stitch is detached buttonhole. This is worked stitcheds, darning stitches, or knotting for fillings. between the lines of the outlined structure. It may be looped into the piece above or next to it. The stitches may be con- Reticella, or Reticello, is the diminutive of “Rete”. Rosette tinuous creating a solid ground or varied to give a pattern. is used in some 16th C. pattern books to refer to the more The thread may also be twisted or knotted to give variety. geometric star and “snowflake” pattern used for Reticella. The filled patterns are linked by connecting threads which In addition, some of the less geometric needlelaces with pro- are then oversewn in buttonhole. jecting points and scallops were referred to as ‘merli” or “merletti”. A Bit of History : Reticella is thought to be an outgrowth of Punto Tagliato - (ref. Ricci Vol I pg. 6-22, 119-138; Earnshaw, Dictionary cut linen work, or in french Pointe Coupe. It is is also com- pg. 145-6; Earnshaw, Fashion pg. 9-24) monly viewed as the precourser for Punto in Aria - stitch in Both Ricci and Earnshaw view the Sforza inventory of 1493 the air. as probably the first mention of lace; any form of lace. How- ever, it is not until 1530 that there is a written mention in a The french term “Dentelle” is used generically to refer to all book. This is in a pattern book, Punto Tagliato by Matio lace. Specifically it means “to the teeth” and refers to in- Pagan, that mentions “rete” (a variant name on reticello). dented edges. Dentelle a l’ aiguille is needlelace and dentelle Another pattern book in 1548 mentions “punto in rede”. aux fuseaux is bobbin lace. These comprise the 2 main forms of lace. Reticella is a needlelace. The 1560 wardrobe accounts for Queen Elizabeth lists partlets with “de opera rete” and “de opera Rhet”. In the 1565 un- Needlelace initially had a linen ground from which areas published inventory of the Castello d’Issogne in Val d’aosta, were removed. Then this ground was replaced with a cord- there are several mentions of what is most probably reticella. ing or thread which was used to define the shapes. The pat- In Elizabeth’s 1586 inventory there is a record of cutwork tern is built up on this outline structure, whether from the for a ruff “edged in good white lace”. Such edgings begin at initial cloth, added threads or cording. the start of the 16th C with narrow edgings on shirt collars, The main threads are tacked along the pattern lines. Initially (continued on page 3) Design for Reticello From the Corona delle nobili e viruose aonne of Vecellio, Venice, 1592 Ricci, Vol. II, No. 21, pg. 20. All Rights Reserved by Robin L. Berry 2004 Page 1 Some Lace Pattern Books. 50 were published between 1517 & 1599 of which 28 were Italian, 7 French, 4 German (Lace, Bookking pg. 10): Matio Pagan, Giardinetto novo di punti tagliati et gropposi per exercito e ornamento delle donne, Venedig, 1542.**The 1st to mention cutwork.** Matio Pagan, Ornamento de le belle et virtudiose donne, Venice, 1543. Matio Pagan, Il spechio di pensieri della belle et virutdiose donne, Venice, 1544, 1549. Matio Pagan, L’honesto essempio, Venice, 1550. Mathio Pagan, La gloria et l’honore de Ponti taglia

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