AGM Challenge: Create a piece inspired by “Limerick Lace”.
Size Limit: 15” maximum on any side
One of the earliest known Irish styles, Limerick Lace was from the outset a commercial venture, brought to the area by Charles Walker who established a training centre and workshop in about 1830. By 1850 it had become popular and prized by wealthy and fashionable ladies all over Europe.
It is extremely light and delicate in style, with designs embroidered in tiny stitches onto a very fine mesh backing cloth. Usually the backing mesh was stretched over frames and the stitching applied to the taut fabric, but some was worked without the use of a frame.
There are two varieties of Limerick Lace. Tambour Lace which is worked with a hook and Needlerun Lace which is worked with a needle. The Tambour is so named because the net is stretched across a frame which is like a tambourine. Stitches are then worked on to the net in a cotton thread with a fine steel tambour hook. The pattern is drawn on paper and placed in front of the worker or held underneath the net.
The Needlerun Lace is also worked on net where the stitches are darned with a sewing needle. Sometimes there is a combination of tambour and run work on the one piece of lace. One of the collars in the Museum shows both techniques. The run lace always has a lighter appearance. As in Carrickmacross Lace, it usually has caskets in the design which are spaces to be filled with a variety of fancy stitches.
Little Limerick lace is made nowadays, but a lot was made in the years between the establishment of the factory and its demise in the early 20th century and antique pieces are still quite widely available.