Traveler's Shopping Guide columnist Laura Morelli is off to Brazil this month to learn about renda di bilros, the craft of bobbin lace. Explaining its history, she writes:
[It] came to Brazil along with Portuguese colonists who claimed its beautiful northeastern coastline as their own in the 17th century. Portugal already counted a rich tradition of lacemaking, and colonists continued the practice in the New World. Mostly the province of women, lacemaking was passed down from mothers to daughters, who learned by watching and repeating their motions.
Crafting lace is tedious, requiring as many as 50 bobbins pinned to a firm pillow, the workspace for the lacemaker.
Lacemakers complete the pattern by winding and overlapping the threads from the bobbins to create a distinctive weave. Experienced lacemakers work at a rapid pace that, on the surface, seems effortless. Their wooden bobbins click together as they render circles, stars, rosettes, and more complex motifs like scrolls, animals, leaves, and flowers.
To learn more about Brazilian lace, check out this month's Shopping Guide column, and don't miss other shopping tips from Rajasthan, India, to Paris, France. To learn more about Brazil, check out the March 2008 issue of Traveler.