Good Friday Conference – Lace Making

March 25, 2023

With Mrs Anna Maria Gatt we spoke about Maltese Lacemaking and its usage during Holy Week celebrations.  Maltese Lace is distinguished by the term ‘Bizzilla’. This particular craft flourished in Malta towards the middle of the 17th century.  Genoese lace makers were brought to Malta in order to revive the industry during the early part of the 19th century.

Maltese lace is a direct descendant of Genoese lace. It is distinguished through its own character, often highlighted by the Maltese Cross.  However, as Mrs. Gatt explained, Maltese lace isn’t just about the Maltese cross; it’s about technique. It uses three distinctive stitches: the English stitch, ball stitch, and fat tallies. Lacemakers can also add individualistic flair to the pattern’s background. Interestingly, we find the same designs in Maltese furniture, embroidery, and wrought iron too.

Mrs. Gatt explained that Maltese Lacemaking was previously used in traditional costumes used during Good Friday processions.  It was also used by the clerical people and of course was and still is used to make altarpieces.  A typical altarpiece is worked in pieces and could in fact take years to complete.  Unfortunately, not may people are choosing this trade since it requires a lot of patience.  This trade is being replaced by machines that create the job much faster at a fraction of the price.  Hence, this is also a dying trade that needs a fresh injection of innovative ideas to keep it going.  

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