The wonderful laces of Idrija

One of the most popular of laces from Slovinia is from the town of Idrija. It is made from handmade ribbons of clothwork lace connected while working the lace (not afterwards like battenburg).

The town of Idrija, according to its inhabitants, is known mainly for two things – one of them being the mercury mine and the other the world-famous Idrija lace.

Idrija lace by Tina Koder

Cloths and napkins, curtains and bed linen, clothes and ornaments for clothes, even earrings, necklaces and gloves, as well as business gifts are all products made of Idrija lace. It’s a fact that for a long time now the local women of Idrija have not only been making handkerchiefs and napkins out of lace, but also more diverse and useful things.

The craft of bobbin lace-making occupies a very important place in the history of Idrija. Idrija lace, which is part of the life of many Idrija families, since the beginning of this craft more than 300 years ago, has travelled to many parts of the world as a handicraft and art product. The term lace-making encompasses several methods of creating lace, such as sewing, crocheting, knitting and bobbin lace-making. In Idrija it is mainly the latter that is used.

Idrija housewives began to make lace as early as around 1696. First, it was a product made of thick flax thread, and intended mainly for the domestic market, for various church dignitaries and also for the wealthier peasantry. Bobbin lace takes its name from the specially designed tools called bobbins which hold the cotton or flax thread.

Idria lace scarf by Tina Koder

In 1860, Štefan and Karolina Lapajne opened the first lace shop in Idrija. In the next few years, the Lapajne family won recognition in the markets of western and central Europe. Soon after, the Ministry of Trade in Vienna opened the first official lace-making school in Idrija, which has been open ever since. Until then, knowledge of bobbin lace-making was passed from generation to generation.

Schools of lace-making that emerged in the second half of the 19th century were designed to improve the knowledge of lace-makers, thus increasing the quality of lace destined for the market. Through the schools and teachers that taught this traditional craft, bobbin lace-making spread to other Slovenian regions like Cerkljansko, the surroundings of Trnovski gozd, to Selška dolina and to Poljanska dolina. After the Second World War, the mass production of lace slowly started to decline. The only people still engaged in bobbin lace-making were elderly women, who were trying to make extra money to supplement their meagre pensions.

For the purpose of spreading the tradition and trading with lace a lace-making cooperative was established, followed later by the Čipka (Lace) company. In the 1990s, when the craft began to regain its former glory, new sales galleries and studios emerged in Idrija and other parts of the country and young people started to create new contemporary pieces of art. Between them is most famous Tina Koder who has her own gallery in Ljubljana. Each year Lace Festival takes place in Idrija.

Shoes by Alja Novak with Idrija lace

Many contemporary slovenian artists and fashion designers were inspired by the Idrija lace whichy they incorporated in their creations.

Read more:

Idrija Lace Festival

Land of Lace

Idrija Lace School

Studio Koder – the famous Idrija laces

Idrija lace creations by Tina Koder

Shoes (also with Idrija lace) by Alja Novak

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