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Gorenjski muzej | July 22, 2019

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Lace Collection of Betty Nováček Volenec

Museum of Gorenjska holds a fine collection of lace and lace patterns including 442 pieces which were donated by Mrs. Betty Novaček Volenec (1893 – 1984). Mrs. Betty was of Czech ancestry on her father’s side and Sudeten German on her mother’s side. Being very fond of lace, she collected contemporary and old lace as well as lace patterns all her life. There is also a smaller collection of lace in the museum including 42 pieces which were donated by Barba Štembergar Zupan. This lace was collected by her mother Vida Štembergar from Kranj who got some samples from her friend Betty Novaček Volenec.

Mrs. Betty Novaček Volenec lived in Kranj from 1930 to her death in 1984. She moved here from Vojvodina and her parents built a house near the Water Tower. She adopted her mother’s love of handicraft and her family collection of lace. This lace originates in different places in Hungary, Romania and Vojvodina where the family had lived, or it was brought to the family as a gift from their friends. Mrs. Betty collected not only lace but also literature and books on lacemaking techniques, mainly of foreign origin. She shared her rich lace collection gladly with her friends who joined her for the afternoon tea at 5 o’clock. She told them on numerous occasions that there were 18 lacemaking techniques in her collection and that the only one missing was the hair technique. Most of the lace in the collection is handmade with some samples of machine-made lace. There is crocheted lace, bobbin lace, needle lace, knitted lace, knotted lace, filet lace, tatted lace, Cluny lace and others as well as some embroidery. Mrs. Betty lived with her sister Dagmar, and they made a lot of lace together. With a skilful hand, they mastered several techniques of making lace, embroidery and needlepoint tapestry. Beside tablecloths and napkins, the collection includes hems and ribbons, collars, cardigans and caps for baptism, handkerchiefs, different patterns, bobbin lace cardigan, apron with lace, plastron, cape, fan and other items. The origin of lace and embroidery is mostly of different European countries:  Moravia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Belgium, Denmark and France, Poland, China, the Balkan countries, Ireland, Italy and Venice, from Malta, Spain, Russia, Greece, Germany, Slovenia and also Uruguay. Among the most precious items in the collection are bobbin lace trimming in silver and gold thread made in the Czech Republic, bobbin lace trimming in nettle thread and needle lace in agave thread.

Mrs. Betty was raised in middle-class manners. She maintained her middle-class customs, she was well educated and spoke a number of foreign languages. In 1984, when she was 91, she donated the work of her life – her vast collection of lace from all over the world as well as her lace literature to the Museum of Gorenjska.

The collection consists mostly of bobbin lace articles: napkins of different kinds, tablecloths, patches, lace ribbon samples with various motifs and pieces of trimming of some European folk costumes. There is plenty of local bobbin lace, made either in broad or narrow tape. We have some interesting lace from other countries: Moravian bobbin lace made in nettle thread, trimming from the Czech Republic in silver and gold wire, a colourful Czech napkin. There are a number of Cluny lace napkins featuring numerous bars and plaits. Black Chantilly lace immediately grabs the attention, while delicate Brussels lace takes your breath away with its various floral motifs on a fine net outlined by the contour thread. Some of the articles are made in combined technique, by lacemaking and sewing. Then there are interesting napkins made of handmade bobbin lace or machine-made ribbons, which are sewn together in various forms. Trimming of some napkins is similar to bobbin point ground lace. Belgian Bruges Flower Work features bobbin lace motifs of flowers and leaves sewn together, while the motifs are outlined by the contour thread. The collection also boasts samples of the fine Valenciennes bobbin lace as trimming where various plant motifs are repeated on the delicate net basis.

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