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When I started making lace, much of the lace that Sir William Burrell had collected was on display at the Burrell Collection in Glasgow, and seeing it made me interested in finding out more about the different types of lace and their history. Someone from Glasgow Lace Group arranged a visit to see some of the lace in the reserve collection (pieces that weren’t on display) and while we were there I noticed that all the record cards were in rather a muddle. I volunteered to go in and help sort them out and, to cut a long story short, ended up going in one day a week as a volunteer for several years, sorting out the lace and checking on whether the information on the record cards was accurate.
The best way to really learn to identify lace is to see, handle and examine in detail as many different types as possible, and this is what I was able to do. I would look at the lace, compare it with pictures and diagrams in books, and eventually felt confident enough to be able to give a rough date and type to most of the lace I saw, although there are always a few oddities that don’t quite fit anywhere. There are times when you wish a piece of lace could talk!
My own lace collection is very much a gathering of pieces that have ‘come my way’ — some I’ve been given and others I’ve come across and bought on the spur of the moment. None of the pieces are particularly valuable, but I find them interesting and I hope you will too.