Caudry: Musée de la Dentelle

November 7, 2011 at 10:45 am | Posted in Lace, Museums and Exhibitions | Leave a comment
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The first needlework-related stop on my trip to France was in Caudry, which is one of very few places in France where lace is still being produced today. I first found out about Caudry lace when it found its way into the headlines earlier this year: the lace that was deconstructed and attached in small pieces to Kate Middleton’s wedding dress was originally produced in Caudry. You can find out more about the process of making that dress from the Royal School of Needlework’s press release (PDF Link).

A little bit of googling later, I knew there was a museum to be visited in Caudry. The Musée de la Dentelle de Caudry is small but definitely worth the visit. The building is a mixture of old and new:

The entrance and museum boutique is in the new glass building, the actual museum space in the old part. The subject of the museum is introduced by a short video, which is available with subtitles in quite a few languages. Afterwards a lace maker shows you around the ground floor, showing the whole process of machine lace-making from start to finish. Although the tour is in French, the guide was doing a lot more showing than telling, so I was able to follow things quite easily despite my mediocre French. I find the complexity of the technology involved breathtaking no matter how often I  see those machines, and seeing one of them work will never lose its fascination to me. The Leavers looms come originally from England. I have been to their birthplace in Nottingham before, but never seen one in action, I needed to come to France for this.  There’s two sets of Jacquard punch cards involved, three different sets of threads, and loads and loads of moving parts.

The first floor had a temporary exhibition of lace in fashion, with lots of lace on display. Of course there also was a current display with information about the lace used for the wedding dress of the year. After all, that’s something to be proud of!

My overall impression? It’s a place definitely worth a visit if you’re interested in the past and present of machine lace making. When walking back to the bus stop afterwards I came across this door with some exquisite metal lace in front:

Lace everywhere!

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