For years I studied bobbin lace through the Amherst Museum Lace Guild.
I was intrigued by the beautiful 'spangled' bobbins used to make the lace.
To spangle a bobbin is to add weight (using beads) to help the tension of the thread while weaving the lace.
Here's a sampling of some of my bobbins that are spangled along with a very very old pair that I received as a gift. Most are wood and the bobbins that are hanging are bone.
I still enjoy making lace, but most of my pieces just ended up in a notebook, as I'm not a lace-wearing-type of girl. Some I have mounted on pillows -- like this Russian Lace piece below.
The lace is made by using a pre-pricked pattern (very time consuming!!) which is placed on a lace maker's 'pillow'. The pattern is worked by placing pins to support the thread as you weave it back and forth through the bobbins. OK, so that's a super watered down explanation. This particular piece represents literally 100s of hours of 'work'.
Here's what I have on my lace pillow right now. It is in the pack-up-and-go state, as I have yet to work on it since doing a demonstration at the History Center (truth be told the demo was Summer of 2007 -beading has consumed me so the lace making is in hiatus).
What you see is just a tip of a dragonfly wing and the bobbins are secured by holders which are held in place by pin holes through the sides of the holders. When transporting a lace project, it's not a good thing for the bobbins to get out of order and/or tangled.
I used just plain wood bobbins (no spangles) for this project, since there is a lot of sewings.
A sewing is when you have to join the lace in spots (the Russian piece is a great example of these joinings).
It is a very tedious process and requires you to sew through a pin hole sized hole and then slip your bobbin through the loop. So spangled bobbins slow this process down, as the thread has a tendency to get hung up in the beads.