Idrija has been decades an important lacemaking centre. I will mention just a few turning points that have been important for the economic importance of bobbin lacemaking in Idrija. I invite you to read the monograph Idrija Lace, a history written with thread (Idrijska čipka, z nitjo pisana zgodovina) by different authors. It is available in libraries in Slovenia or for purchase via the online shop of the Idrija Lace School.
According to archival sources, Karolina Lapajne ran the first and only lace shop in Idrija as early as 1860. Fifteen years later, the well-known company caller Firma Franc Lapajne entered the market, followed only a year later by the Idrija Lace School, which, in addition to education, was also involved in buying and selling lace. At the time, around 1,000 lace-makers were making lace in Idrija.
In 1905, traders exported lace to Europe, America and Egypt through the newly founded Idrija Lace Cooperative. Only four years later, archival sources mention that the Lace School was already buying lace from 1,523 of its students. And the town of Idrija was known as the centre of the 300 km2 large lace industry in Carniola.
At the time of the First World War, prior established trade links disappeared. Until 1919, when trading with lace was taken over by the Central Institute for Women's Handicrafts in Vienna. Lace sales boomed between the two wars, despite 26 years of Italian occupation, which left its mark on the formation of Idrija lace. In 1930 there were already around 22 lace dealers in the Idrija wider area. Six of them sold lace alongside other goods, and two of them exported only lace.
The second Idrija Lace Cooperative was the dominant trader after the Second World War. With 800 members at the time of its foundation, it exported lace through the company DOM Ljubljana. In response to its exploitation, the new company Čipka Idrija was founded in 1956. It cooperated with the exporter Primorje Export, which bought the lace at a 100 % higher price. The company had collaborated with 4,752 active lacemakers from Idrija, Cerkno, Otlica and Škofja Loka. By 1981, the number of lacemakers in Idrija had declined due to the flourishing industry, and the logical consequence was an Idrija lace demand and supply decrease. The company Čipka Idrija continued to operate in this changed situation until 1999.
After the company Čipka Idrija was established, the cooperative Čipkarska zadruga only did promotion activities. Active were around 2,000 of the 6,100 members of the Cooperative who became members of the newly founded Lacemakers Association in 1966. It operated in the areas of Idrija, Ajdovščina, Tolmin, Nova Gorica, Logatec, Ljubljana- Vič and Škofja Loka.
In the 1990s, it became clear that the lace tradition would have to be revived and preserved. A different approach should emphasise lacemakers' stories and the preciousness, quality, exclusivity and individuality of Idrija lace. The Intellectual Property Office of the Republic of Slovenia granted the right to label lace with a geographical indication in 2000. Idrija Lacemakers Association, founded in 2003, brings together around 130 women lacemakers and provides continuing education for the members. In 2013, the national list of intangible cultural heritage also included lacemaking in Idrija. In 2016, Slovenia declared lacemaking a living masterpiece of national importance. Then followed the inscription of lacemaking in Slovenia on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (2018).
How can a lacemaker get certified?
You can find the relevant instructions in the second, revised edition of the manual Idrija Lace, Geographical Indication by Andra Marinko, Aleksandra Pelhan and Irma Pervanja (Idrija, June 2010). The manual contains all the prescribed patterns for bobbin lace, instructions for choosing the correct thread and number of pairs of bobbins, and evaluation sheets. It is available at the Idrija Lacemakers Association or in the library.
Once a year, the Idrija Lace Designation of Origin Committee announces the deadline for submitting lace for judging. You can follow up-to-date information at the Idrija Lace Festival subpage.
You may also find the basic stage patterns photo gallery of the lace patterns helpful. All of the lace patterns in the photos have been positively evaluated but are not without faults. They should therefore be used as a guide only. For the correct production of the individual techniques and elements, I strongly recommend you read the published lacemaking manuals, which I refer to at the gallery. These are:
- Klekljanje I. Poljanec, Katica , Rupnik, Marinka, Česnik, Dragica, Pervanja, Irma, Fortuna, Metka. 1. izd. - Ljubljana : Karantanija, 1995. Cobiss notation.
- Klekljanje II. Poljanec, Katica; Rupnik, Marinka; Fortuna, Metka. 1. natis. - Ljubljana : Co Libri, 1997. Cobiss notation.
- Klekljanje 3. Poljanec, Katica; Rupnik, Marinka; Fortuna, Metka. 1. natis. - Železniki : Pami, 1998. Cobiss notation.
- Idrijska čipka. Široki ris 1 = Idrija lace. Široki ris (broad tape), *1. natis. - Idrija : Gimnazija Jurija Vege, Čipkarska šola, 2012 (Cobiss notation) ali 2. natis. - Idrija : Gimnazija Jurija Vege, Čipkarska šola, 2015 (Cobiss zapis).
- Idrijska čipka. Široki ris 2 = Idrija lace. Široki ris (broad tape), *1. natis. - Idrija : Gimnazija Jurija Vege, Čipkarska šola, 2012
- Idrijska čipka. Ozki ris = Idrija lace. Narrow cloth stitch. Svetlik, Maja. *Idrija : Gimnazija Jurija Vege, Čipkarska šola, 2014 (Cobiss notation) ali 2. natis. - Idrija : Gimnazija Jurija Vege, Čipkarska šola, 2015 (Cobiss notation).
- Idrijska čipka. Idrijski ris in sukani ris = Idrija lace. Idrija narrow tape lace and double stitch. Svetlik, Maja. 1. natis. - Idrija: Gimnazija Jurija Vege, Čipkarska šola, 2016. Cobiss notation.
If, by buying lace with a GI label, a customer can be sure of buying a product of the highest quality, a lace maker who can label her laces with an Idrija lace geographical indication can be proud of her achievements. The three certificates awarded by the Idrija Lace Designation of Origin Committee are the maximum recognition of the quality of the work of the lacemaker.