Bilros, Bobbin Lace Work in Peniche
Bobbin lace is a secular tradition of Peniche that contributes to the affirmation and differentiation of the territory. Only the concertation of all the efforts around this patrimonial element, common to all the Penichenses, as the local people are called, can contribute to this activity.
This is the starting point to let us know the importance of this art that Peniche wants to preserve, as cultural heritage. An art made of the effort of many women who saw their men depart for the sea, embarking also on an almost daily adventure.
The bobbin lace of Peniche is an art with more than four centuries of existence. Dates back to the end of the 16th century, beginning of the 17th century. In fact, Josefa de Óbidos, a local painter, includes the theme in many of her paintings in the 16th century.
Its appearance on the land of Peniche seems to have been motivated by the commercial relations established between the sailors and fishermen coming from the ports of Bruges and Antwerp in Flanders, originating the transmission of a know-how, of what would become the ex-libris of the local crafts.
In the nineteenth century, this art was woven by the majority of the women of Peniche, especially by the wives of fishermen who transformed the ingenuity of their art and the perfection of their work, in addition to the small salaries from fishing, in times of closure.
With the emergence of new and more profitable alternatives to female labor, this art suffered a regression in the early twentieth century. Nowadays, this distinctive element of Peniche’s identity remains safeguarded, although with less expression than in the golden times in which every income produced in Portugal was known as bobbin lace of Peniche.
How to weave bobbin lace?
The design of the bobbin lace begins with the pattern drawing, which is copy into millimetric paper and chopped into a handmade cardboard, usually in saffron color. They fix the pattern on a cushion with the help of pins, giving rise to the bobbin lace which is characterized by the continuous or intercalated crossing of textile yarns, in bobbins.
What types of bobbin lace exist?
There are two types of bobbin lace – the scholarly, with elaborate designs, complex and non-repetitive motifs, which requires the use of very varied points and great skill of execution; and the popular type, with a more elementary design and repetitive motifs, using more traditional points and simpler execution.
One of the details that distinguish the Peniche bobbin lace from others in Portugal is the warp process – the Peniche garnets work with the palms facing upwards and the right from the wrong side is equal.
What will be the future of bobbin lace?
Due to the emergence of the Artesãos de Santa Maria (St. Mary Craftsmen), the Escola de Rendas de Peniche – (Peniche Lace School), the formation of the Peniche – Rendibilros (Association for the protection of the Peniche bobbin lace), and other initiatives and associations, bobbin lace is currently protected and dignified and counts with more than half a thousand lace makers. Annually is celebrated the lace maker week, with its own program dedicated to the arts of the bobbin lace. On the third Sunday of July, is celebrated the bobbin lace maker holiday, especially dedicated to the lace makers, many of which are indeed those who expose themselves in the Public Garden in front of thousands of people enchanted by the beauty of their work.
The bobbin lace as Art and Culture
Maximum expression for the preservation and conservation of bobbin lace from Peniche, the Museum of Bobbin Lace of Peniche, intends to be a living testimony, representative of the arts and community, affirming itself as an element of attractiveness of the municipality of Peniche.