Monday, July 16, 2012
A Tale of Two Tatters
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Elaborate, artistic pieces of tatting were being made, tatting was simply an edging of half closed rings. There was no such thing as the join, large pieces were being made by tying together the picots. Needlework books devoted only a few paragraphs (if that) to tatting, that was about to change.
It was the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty. That year would see the publication of two books in England: Tatting, by Mlle. Eleonore Riego de la Branchardiere, and The Book of Point Lace and Tatting, by an anonymous Gentlewoman.
Riego wrote, "I have been much solicited for some time past to introduce the work (tatting) in England, bu have delayed doing so until I could simplify the mode of working, and endeavour to render it suitable to the taste of the English lady.....I have substituted a 'Netting Needle,' for the 'Shuttle,' which has enabled me to attach and shape the patterns while working...." Her book contains tatted collars, edgings, a doily, and the famous grape motif.
The Gentlewoman wrote about tatting, "Necessarily, however, no very great variety of forms can be obtained in this style of work, notwithstanding the undoubted advance that has been made in it; it is better adapted as an adjunct than as a principal; and therefore, I have restored it to its original us as part of English Point Lace...." While she give some good instructions for how to tat, her patterns are very simple.
Riego saw the elaborate work done in France and experimented with new ways to imitate it with less effort. She constantly strove to advance tatting as an art form. The Gentlewoman was also aware of the beautiful tatting at the Exhibition of Industry in Paris and turned her back on any advancement, preferring to return to older, simpler tatting styles.
And that is why Riego is the Mother of Modern Tatting and the other Gentlewoman isn't.
Riego's books are available through Georgia Seitz's Archive of Tatting Books in the Public Domain and through the Antique Pattern Library.
The book of Point Lace and Tatting is available for purchase from Iva Rose Vintage Reproductions. I do not know of a public domain source.