Hart Square's antique bobbin lace pillow and pricking.
I am coordinating a research project related to the lace pillow shown below. Of particular interest is the history of this specific style of pillow. (If not this specific example, which may not be possible.) Any information that you can provide, or any contacts that you might have with knowledge of the origin and development of this style of rotating, bolster pillow would be welcomed.
Most resources point to a strong Puerto Rican connection. The development of the style is very likely related to similar pillows that have the 'arms' on each side but do not have the notches that will hold sets of bobbins aside. The 'arms' on those pillows are similar to the Hart Square pillow, but without the notches, and are often a bit taller. Many of the photos of those pillows appear to be of Spanish origin, which might also help explain the possible Puerto Rican connection.
An extensive selection of additional pictures, resources, and collected data can be found at: Hart Square Lace Pillow Research Project. Unfortunately, I have thus far been unsuccessful in establishing academically adequate information, resources, citations, and examples regarding the history and development of this style of pillow.
Please contact Patricia Blackwell at: firstname.lastname@example.org - All tips and leads are helpful. Even 'dead ends' can be useful in unanticipated ways.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This is the Hart Square 'antique' roller/bolster bobbin lace pillow with 'original' pricking. Note that the bobbins are not identical, varying in shape, although most are of the slim, 'pencil' type rather than having bulbous or spangled bottoms. No extra weight is needed because tension comes from their hanging relatively straight down from the bolster. The bobbins not being used are laid to either side over the notches on each side of the bolster. They are not necessarily 'original' to this pillow. You can see that the pricking lies slightly above the pillow surface. The lacemaker of yore padded the bolster with what appears to be 'kitchen toweling' until the bolster circumference was large enough to hold a complete pattern repeat. The pricking is actually longer and was overlapped and pinned in place to make the pattern complete. Although there are a few dim pencil markings, primarily the pricking is just the pinholes typically used by an experienced lacer. This pillow has a storage drawer; one can just see the knob beneath the bobbins. The front bar is heavily padded and the back bar plain wood. Note: The lace on this pillow utilized only the existing pricking holes, but the 'correct' design is unknown.
In my many books, and the resource books available to me, I could not find a lace pricking style which appeared to be similar so just did my best to create a sample for the pillow, using a copy of the original pricking. However, I do wonder if this pricking was original to this pillow. I laced the new sample on a flat pillow and with more bobbin pairs than I could have managed on a pillow of this width.
Another reason for not working directly on the antique pricking was because it is already so fragile. In a effort to mitigate potential additional damage, my new piece is pinned into original pricking holes but only into enough to hold the lace in place. For the same reason, many of my bobbins were tied off and cut away. A lesser number of bobbins were retained on the antique bobbins so as to provide an authentic look for display purposes.