The Legend of Burano Lace
One of the most famous legends about Burano narrates that an ancient betrothed fisherman, while he was fishing outside the lagoon, in the east sea, hold up to a siren who tried to entice him by her canto.
So he received a gift from sirens' queen, enchanted by his faithfulness: the siren thumped the side of the boat by her tall, creating a foam from which a wedding veil developed.
Came back home opportune in the day of marriage, he gave the gift to his fiancée.
She was admired and envied from all the young ladies of the island, whereupon they begin to imitate the lace of the wedding veil employing needle-and-thread more and more thin, hoping to create a even more beautiful lace for their wedding dresses.
The Lace of Burano
The first laces date back to 1500 and initially their workmanship taked place in posh houses, employing needle-and-thread without a canvass as prop.
Here the "punto in aria" combined with geometrical designs, flowers, animals, and spirals took place.
In the '600 it began to embroider using "punto a crocette", worked by small flying flowers and the "punto controtagliato", used for large and in relief billows in necklines.
Soon these embroideries spread in Europe and Burano’s lacemakers were invited even in France to start an important lace production.
France became a terrible contender for the lacemakers of the island, even if it was unable to produce embroideries as refined as Burano’s ones.
Principally the lace workmanship was taking place inside the "Scuola Merletti" (Lace School).
Today noteworthy works are exposed in a historical building located in the square of Burano, the Lace Museum.
Unfortunately, after the decline of the Serenissima Republic, lace workmanship fell down.
At the end of the 19th century, thanks to the propaganda of Ms Cencia Scarpariola (a well-known lacemaker of Burano whose name was assigned to a street in the island), a new lace age began and new stitches were introduced, so that the embroideries became out-and-out artworks.
The Lace Museum of Burano
In 1978 the public administrations of Venice composed by the Town Council, the Provincial Authorities, the Chamber of Commerce and the Tourist Boards joined together with the Andriana Marcello Foundation in a "Burano Lace Consortium".
This was the beginning of a campaign to revive and re-evaluate the art of the Burano's lace: the archives of the old School, full of important documents and drawings, were re-ordered and catalogued.
The building was restructured and transformed into an exhibition site. This was the beginning of the Burano Lace Museum.
The museum is located in a historical building in the Burano's Piazza Galuppi, seat of the famous Burano Lace School from 1872 to 1970.
Rare and precious pieces offer a complete overview of the history and artistry of the Venetian and lagoon's laces, from its origins to the present day are on display, in a picturesque setting decorated in the typical colors of the island.
Tickets for the Lace Museum Burano can also be bought online at this page: Burano Lace Museum tickets.
Burano Lace Making.
For the creation of a lace more than five steps were necessary, which are still now made by five persons.
Every lacemaker was assigned to the step which she was good at (even if she knew all the stitches), so that the work was as profitable as possible, since that it was a piecework.
There was ladies responsible for the designs, others for the neckline, i.e. the step in which the lace design is fixed on the fabric and paper layers;
it acted as woof on which the first lacemaker, after the fabric was attached to the lace pillow, performed the "ghipur" or "punto Burano" (the stitch of Burano) on the whole drawing.
Then the other lacemakers carried out the "sbarri", the "punto rete" and in the end the relief which emphasized the trim size.
As latest thing the lace was pinched from the paper cutting all the seams and all the superfluous yarns were accurately removed by tweezers.
In the first years of '900, the lace was made by a smaller number of ladies than in the 16th century, because the young girls found work in "Murano’s conterie" and in small venetian sartorial labs, where they gained more money.