The flowers are first embroidered in colored threads by hand. The thread is a soft cord that gives a padded effect to the petals. Later, areas are cut out and filled in with straight stitch machine embroidery to create a lacy structure. As this is an 'industry' the embroidery may be worked by different women from those who do the machine-work. The machine embroidery
was taught in a special State School . The already hand-embroidered piece is stretched in a circular frame. Then the lace machine-embroidery is stitched across the cut-out holes and then re-machined over. It needs a great deal of control to do this or the thread breaks and you have to start again.
Halas Lace-The Hungarian Jewel
|Sandwiched in-between the lacemaking centers of Italy and Austria it
was only natural that the lacemaking tradition would flourish in Hungary.
But the road was rocky, in the early days of lacemaking, due to the 150
years of Turkish domination of the area. As with most countries in Europe,
of which Hungary was on the edge, the influence of Italian lacemaking and
the demand for lace among the wealthy especially in France, it was no wonder
that war torn Hungry would find a source of income from lacemaking.
Until the French revolution the most popular lace in Hungary was bobbin lace made in the Genoese fashion. It consisted of a ribbon of toile (clothwork) that bent and turned its way into a continuous design across the lace. The ribbons were connected by either the sewing method or with réseau (mesh ground) which gave the appearance of lace inlay.
click on image
to see full size version
click on image to see full size version
|Lacemaking in Hungary declined after the French revolution
and never fully recovered before the advent of machine lace. But the desire
of beauty and handcrafts never left the people of Hungary and at the turn
of the century (1902), when Europe was consumed with the excitement the
new artistic movement. A Hungarian designer along with the skilled hands
of his mother and her friends developed a new form of lace in the farming
town of Kiskunhalas a hundred miles south of Budapest. Using few
tools, unlike to large number of bobbins, pins and a pillow needed for
bobbin lace, the new lace was worked with only a needle and thread over
a paper pattern.
Their first efforts were well received at their first exhibit at Christmas-time that first year. Both the public and the press took notice.
Shortly after a new member, the gifted embroiderer Maria Markovits, was added to the group of lacemakers and under her skilled hands the new lace took shape. The art nouveau style, which was becoming popular at the time was incorporated into the design and contributed to the appreciation of this new style of lace. The unusual combination of weaving and the traditional techniques of needlelace gave this lace its unique flavor. Due to the language barrier of imported books these industrious women had to devise their own method to accomplish the desired result.
|The areas of clothwork give the viewer at first glance, the feeling
that the lace was derived from a cutwork of woven fabric or a bobbin lace
clothwork stitch. But upon closer inspection it is detected that the extremely
fine woven linen is worked with a needle. Their technique was wholly
The samples shown here are of the famous butterflies but Halas lace is not exclusively these small white creatures. Early Halas lace even incorporated color into the designs which included doilies, fans and border lace. Over the decades the lace evolved and by 1935 color was almost never seen. As with most lace in the past, the techniques began to be copied but never with the quality or success of the original. To keep their standard high and to help distinguish between the true Halas lace and copies, the incorporation of a logo comprised of three fishes is now incorporated into each piece of Halas lace. (see picture right)
click on image to see blow up
||The fame of Halas lace continued to grew until the disaster of World War II when the Lace house and all its records, and patterns were destroyed. But not to be defeated the lacemakers rebuilt the lace house and lacemaking was restored in Hungary. But unlike the rich times of the 17th century the demand for high quality lace had suffered and lacemaking was never restored to its status of supporting a living. Lacemakers are few and poorly paid for the labor intensive lace. But the government of Hungary saw the value of their unique lace and supported the cause.|
|A large number of stamps were even created to promote this beautiful
and rare art form. Hungary has the largest number of postage stamps depicting
lace, in the whole world despite the small number of lacemakers. (see http://lace.lacefairy.com/LaceStamps/LaceStamps.htm
for the collection of lace stamps of Hungary and other countries)
Rarely seen outside of Hungary, Halas lace shows up in lace collections here in the US rarely. It is highly prized and often requires a friend who travels to Hungary to obtain. Even then it is hard to obtain due to the very time consuming process and low numbers of lacemakers today. I was lucky to obtain an exquisite piece as a gift from a dear friend, who knows a native of Hungary who returns to visit occasionally.
“The Art of Lacemaking in Hungary” by Maria Csernyansky “Outlines and Stitches” by Pat Earnshaw “Halas Lace” by Szakal Aurel “Hungarian Needlepoint -Halas Lace an Australian Interpretation” by Marie Laurie “New Awakening world of famous Halas Lace” by Anatal Koncz,