Designers and the Lace
A right time in the history of the Czech Republic


The Czech modern lace is a progressive element which has been enriching the development of the world lace-making nearly throughout the whole 20th century. It surprises by a strong vigour of the artistic invention which elevated the Czech lace to the front place in the competition with West European countries just at the time when the exhibition of decorative arts took place in Paris in 1925 and it gained further awards on world and international exhibitions as well as on modern festivals in Brussels.Fore stages of the peculiar development of the Czech modern lace go back to the break of the 19th and 20th century when efforts of the national self-determination strengthened that culminated into the rise of the

Czechoslovakia republic in 1918. Besides the pattern liberation which was brought about by a new style of secession, a special climate of regeneration of the nation and a new state with the necessity of showing its own strong folk tradition in a new modern position reflected in the contemporaneous culture. New patterns arose by artifical removes of folk motifs and thus they bore all signs of ornamentics of the period, so-called ìvigourî which only significant celebrities of the Czech graphic arts came out from with honour. Today, this period is rated as a deteriorating one but it helped the Czech lace extricate from the dead weight of difficult patterns of periods of historical styles.

The State Institute of Education for Home Industry, later called the Educational Institute of Artistic Manufacture which took over all lace schools on the area of the new state under its care in 1919 have a great deserve about the technical and artistic flourishment of the Czech lace-making. It took up on 150 year's old tradition of the lace education by a modern way of teaching which served pupils of all ages not only perfect knowledge of technological proceeds but at the same time it even elevated also an aesthetic and artistic level of the lace very high by embodying artists into the pedagogical team who became authors of valuable models for teaching and they came to find base of high quality for carrying out significant artistic works of art on the area of the institute.
The difference of the development of the modern lace-making in Bohemia from the development in abroad rests on the phenomenon of linking a pedagogical activity and an artistic sphere, on the creation of the system of the special lace education of all levels lead by artists whose creations formed the development of the Czech modern lace. The gravestones of this system were the State Institute of Education for Home Industry and Prague's Handicraft School which has educated several generations of artists whose field of a creation is the lace.

Among its graduates there are also personalities who were at the foundation of modern Czech lace. Marie Serbouskova-Sedlackova graduated in 1925. Her work was on display in Paris were it awarded a gold prize and prize of honour. She was familiar with both Czech and Slovak lace, the elements of which she managed to transfer sensitively into more acceptable common form.

Soon she abandoned ornament and started to utilise variability of bobbin structures creating a wide range of alternatives also with combined coloured threads. Her work, which is close to functionalism, opened an access to a new-age lace-making production and lace utilisation.Bozena Rothmayerova, inspired by folk environment, made use of thick rough linen and hemp, relieving the lace of luxury and decorative impression. Modest geometrical assemblies and remarkable structures are typical for her work. As early as in the 30s, when Rothmayerova became a pedagogue of the School Institute for Artistic Production in Prague which was gathering all best lace-makers of those days, her work enriched the artistic life from aesthetic and function point of view. Since 1919 also Emilie Palickova co-operated with the Institute, though without any deep knowledge of technology or traditional accesses, and managed to utilise and develop all already existing techniques and emphasised the emotional power of rhythm in artistic invention. She brought the Czech sewed lace to the top of

European lace-making already in the 20's. Bobbin lace dominated in her work in about 30's, when Palickova started to work with simple elements of bobbin technique expressing thus her artistic intention. A considerable part of her composition is a well-thought network of chains and twisted pairs of threads evoking impression of pulsing lines of force, sources and lines, all these vitalising the elaborated motive.

Decorative hinge - prof. Emilie Palickova, for EXPO Brussels 1958 (exhibit in Lace Museum Vamberk)


Decorative flower from Vlasta Solcova, EXPO Montreal 1967 (exhibit in Lace Museum Vamberk)


Rambles longing, lace picture from Luba Krejci (Lace Museum Vamberk)


Regardless the size, all her works look monumental. Just thanks to this artist, the Czech lace tended towards monumentalism since the half of the 50's, independently of the artistic tendencies abroad. At that time, Emilie Palickova ran a special studio at a College of Art and Industry focused on lace and embroidery, and later was followed by many of her girl-students-a generation which launched a good deal of pioneering work in revealing new, unconventional and surprising possibilities of the lace expression, such as a tapestry.

Their works were asserted not only at home, but also in comparison with foreign lace-making work presented at great exhibitions abroad. They also were applauded at the World Exhibition EXPO Brussels in 1958. Works of young artists were on display at EXPO Montreal 1967. Generation of these artists studied in the 60's under professor Antonin Kybala in a studio of textile art, where also Marie Vankova, Emilie Palickova's student was teaching lace-making and embroidering.

Sorting out opinions and creative accesses of two strong personalities, the lace was enriched by another aspect. Flexibility and excellent ability to absorb and reflect light in colour shades and penetrations of a fish-net material, entered the space in monumental architectonic look. And again the lace proves its ability to mediate artistic statement. The range of means of such a statement seems endless - the lace can be of a strict geometry, picturesque impression, fragile or robust in its planar look, but also as transparent plastic work, or rather complicated special or even mobile object, or a work of art creating its own environment which you are allowed to step in-aviroma.

A present-day Czech lace-making combines different textile techniques but does not avoid even old folk ones, such as netlace . Also author's techniques appeared to express individual artists. Contrast of transparent and closely knit woven textiles connected into one organic whole by a common technique are utilised as well. Principles of overlapping elements of structure - warp and weft threads, structures and created special sheets help take advantage of specific optical regularities of colour effects while their mutual coinciding.
The whole artistic intention is intensified by the way of lighting the masterpiece. Lace-making creativity elaborates a wide range of materials, taking advantage of their effects and colours in surprising combinations and contrasts. The scale of conventional materials, supplemented by carpet wool, sisal, metallic thread and even wire, is used and combined with glass, stones, wood or paper in equivalent or promoting functions.

Work of Emilie Palickova - clear simple body of work and graphical variability of bobbin-made structures brightened by yarns of different colours which appeared seemingly overtaking its era in the work of Marie Sedlackoova-Serbouskova - contributed to seeking individual expressions and ways developed by new-coming generation of artists. It reflects in highly aesthetic work of accomplished artists whose works reach the highest imaginative power by using simple techniques.

Springs II., lace-tapisserie from Vlasta Solcova, 1982 (Art Industrial Museum in Prague)

Longing for nature, lace object from Marie Vankova - Kuchynkova, 1989 silver bobbin - IV. Internationala Biennial of lace Brussels/Belgium (Art Industrial Museum in Prague)


Sun, detail of round napkin from Emilie Palickova, International Exhibition of Decorative Arts in Paris in1925, lace-makers from Schönfeld need for made whole lace 11 000 hours (School and Institute of Art Production in Prague)


Round napkin from Marie Sedlackova-Serbouskova (exhibit in Lace Museum Vamberk)


Sample of yard lace from Marie Sedlackova-Serbouskova, International Exhibition of Decorative Arts in Paris in1925 (Art Industrial Museum in Prague)


collar from Bozena Rothmayerova, 1951 (School and Institute of Art Production in Prague)


Accomplished personalities come back to the College of Art and Industry as pedagogues or they get their experience over to new talents at secondary technical schools or by means of School Institute for Art Production. Continual education of lace-making, the topical and development inspiring contribution of which is a direct confrontation of mature artists with coming generation, its artistic and technical high level and progresiveness, all these were appreciated by world professionals and awarded the Prize of the Queen Fabiola at the second international festival in Brussels in 1985.

The prize was handed over to Marie Vankova.
In 1999, the anniversary Institute of Education of Artistic manufacture ends its activity as a Czech institution on the basis of the decision of the Ministry of Education. Thus, the continuity of the system of the lace education loses the widest platform of special influence and basic degree of teaching.

Don't destrozy cathedrals, lace-tapisserie from Ludmila Kaprasova, 1983 gold bobbin - 1.Int. Lace Bienale in Brussels/Belgium (private collection)
Wings- threewings, lace-tapisserie from Jana Slamova, Price - Lace Bienale in Brussels/Belgium (Art Industrial Museum in Prague)


Blue planet, wig from Marie Vankova - Kuchynkova, 1996 (author's property)


Honour for Pierre de la Francesca,lace-tapisserie from Emilie Frydecka, 1992-93 (author's property)


The primary preparation for an artistic career of future graphic artists is reduced to its minimum by this step.

Also some other institutions which cared for keeping first-rate traditions of folk crafts and through the co-operation with significant artists kept widely-known high level of the lace in Bohemia for decades have become extinct.
This is just at a time when the lace-making again becomes the source of living in some cases and when a general level of the Czech lace-making is threatened in the commercial competition.

Wing, object from Alina Jaskova, 1993 (author's property)


Hood from Jitka Stenclova, 1974 (private collection - Sweden)


Hands, lace object from A.L. Cechova, 1987-1988 (author's property)


Collar from Marianna Horvathova, 1998 Brusel/Belgium - 8.International bienale of lace (School and Institute of Art Production in Prague)