From March to July 2020, the TRC presents a mini exhibition on Tenerife lace, following the recent acquisition by the TRC of a beautiful Tenerife lace collar (TRC 2020.0462). The display is on show in the workroom of the TRC.
Tenerife (also spelt Teneriffe) lace is a form of needle woven lace that includes a series of individual discs or rosettes. It was developed in Europe in the 19th century. It has become particularly associated with the Spanish island of Tenerife, in the Atlantic, where it was worked by women and girls and sold mainly via the trousseau market and a growing tourist trade. Tenerife lace was also exported to various Spanish colonies in South America, where it became known as naduti (‘web’, as in spider’s web).
Tenerife lace is made by using a small frame (or 'wheel'), which is generally round, although square, triangular and oval shaped versions also exist. The round frames are known as sol (sun) or rueda (wheel) and come in a variety of sizes, from 5 to 15 cm. Occasionally even larger examples are made.
A cotton, linen or silk thread is passed back-and-forward around the ‘teeth’. These are nails or pins that are inserted into the edge of the frame. Once all these ‘radical’ threads are secured, a pattern can be woven using a needle. The finished discs (rosettes) are then released from the frame. Once enough lace discs have been made they are sewn together in an open structure, or may be inset into a ground material. Sometimes the ground material is also embroidered.
Tenerife lace was used for making a range of items, including collars, bodices and cuffs for blouses and dresses, as well as decorating household items such as pin cushions, cushions, table cloths, serviettes, doilies, and curtains.
This form of lace became very popular in the late 19th century and continued to be made well into the 1930’s. However, it had virtually died out by the 1960’s, as changes in interior design, types of household linen and in what people were making and wearing changed dramatically. Since the 2010’s there has been an increased interest in Tenerife lace as part of the general revival of craft traditions. It is sometimes described as a means of making lace without the complications!
Tenerife frames and other items in the TRC collection and included in the exhibition:
- TRC 2015.0280 – produced by the English company of Briggs
- TRC 2015.0307 – produced in France
- TRC 2015.0632 – Vicar’s circle from England
- TRC 2020.0393 – DMC booklet about tenerife lace
Tenerife lace examples: