lacelike, adj.lacer, n.
/lays/, n., v., laced, lacing.
1. a netlike ornamental fabric made of threads by hand or machine.
2. a cord or string for holding or drawing together, as when passed through holes in opposite edges.
3. ornamental cord or braid, esp. of gold or silver, used to decorate uniforms, hats, etc.
4. a small amount of alcoholic liquor or other substance added to food or drink.
5. to fasten, draw together, or compress by or as if by means of a lace.
6. to pass (a cord, leather strip, etc.), as through holes.
7. to interlace or intertwine.
8. to adorn or trim with lace.
9. to add a small amount of alcoholic liquor or other substance to (food or drink): He took his coffee laced with brandy.
10. to lash, beat, or thrash.
11. to compress the waist of (a person) by drawing tight the laces of a corset, or the like.
12. to mark or streak, as with color.
13. to be fastened with a lace: These shoes lace up the side.
14. to attack physically or verbally (often fol. by into): The teacher laced into his students.
[1175-1225; (n.) ME las < OF laz, las L laqueus noose; (v.) ME lasen < MF lacier, lasser, lachier (F lacer) L laqueare to enclose in a noose, trap]

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Ornamental openwork fabric formed by the looping, interlacing, braiding, or twisting of threads, originally primarily of linen.

Almost all high-quality artistic lace is made by one of two techniques: needle lace involves a difficult technique that originated in Italy; bobbin lace is a more widespread craft that originated in Flanders. The art of lace is a European achievement. Fully developed lace did not appear before the Renaissance. By 1600 lace had become a fabric of luxury and an important article of commerce. The Industrial Revolution in the 19th century led to the use of machines to produce less-expensive lace made of cotton, and lace gradually disappeared from both men's and women's fashions. By 1920 the industry was dying. Fine handmade lace is still made in Belgium, Slovenia, and elsewhere, but chiefly as souvenirs.

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      ornamental, openwork fabric formed by looping, interlacing, braiding (plaiting), or twisting threads. The dividing line between lace and embroidery, which is an ornamentation added to an already completed fabric, is not easy to draw; a number of laces, such as Limerick and filet lace, can be called forms of embroidery upon a more or less open fabric. On the other hand, fancy knitting, however much an ornamental openwork fabric, is not usually thought of as lace, though in some museums it is so classified. Openwork fabrics made on a loom (for example, brocaded gauze) are not considered lace.

      Before 1800 the threads of lace were usually linen; after 1800 cotton was more common. Silk and metal thread and occasionally such other materials as wool, aloe fiber, and hair of various kinds were also used.

      Almost all laces that have some claim to be called works of art are made in one of two techniques, needle lace and bobbin lace (qq.v.). Needle lace involves a very difficult technique and has seldom been used in folk art or, except at the beginning of its history, by amateurs. Bobbin lace in its simpler forms is a widespread craft and amateur pastime, but the more elaborate laces require the highest degree of skill. There are a number of minor techniques of lace making, including the following: drawn-thread work, or punto tirato; cutwork, or punto tagliato; filet, or network, lace; macrame, or knotted lace; punto a groppo; punto avorio; crochet; and tape lace.

      Though ornamented openwork fabrics have been found in ancient Egyptian burial grounds, fully developed lace did not appear before the Renaissance; and, although some of the simple techniques may have originated in the Middle East, the art of lace is a European achievement. Some late 15th-century Italian and Flemish paintings show elaborate hemstitching and narrow lacelike insertions at the seams of linen garments and cushions, which represent the beginning of needle lace. The first bobbin lace is not well documented, but it probably originated early in the 16th century. Whether these lace techniques were developed first in Italy or in Flanders is a question that has remained unresolved. Most authorities, however, agree that needle lace originated in Italy, bobbin lace in Flanders.

      By 1550 both of the main kinds of lace and a great deal of cutwork, drawn-thread work, and filet were being made. By 1600 lace, which had begun as a modest ornament for underlinen, was a fabric of the utmost luxury and an important article of commerce. Great quantities of lace were worn by both men and women. The chief centres of production in the 17th and 18th centuries were Italy, Flanders, and France, though lace was also made in Spain, Germany, and England.

      In the 19th century the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution led to great changes in the character of lace. The use of machine net for free-bobbin lace became general soon after 1800, making it considerably less expensive. Lace was no longer worn by men, and during the early part of the century women's fashions did not call for much of it; when the mode changed about 1840, enormous quantities of lace were readily made. Cotton, a cheaper but less satisfactory material, replaced linen. The design also deteriorated. The chief lace-making centres were Italy, Belgium, France, England, and Ireland. But lace was also made in Spain, Russia, Denmark, Turkey and elsewhere in the Levant, and in South American countries such as Paraguay and Brazil. The introduction of lace making into East Asia, especially China, took place late in the century.

      Much handmade lace continued to be produced until World War I, despite increasing competition from machine-made types. A great deal of bobbin, needle, and filet lace was made in China for export to Europe and the United States. But by 1920 the industry was dying everywhere. In the second half of the 20th century, lace was still being made at such centres as Burano and Bruges, but chiefly as souvenirs.

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Universalium. 2010.

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