The South West town of Finland, Rauma, is known for its bobbin lace history from the mid 17th century onwards. Why? Not only women, but also kids and old men participated in lace-making. Seamen would do it when bored on long trips.
Rauma was known as a lace making town and in its peek time almost all women in Rauma made laces, which were known for its high quality and the finest yarn from Netherlands. Out of 1500 inhabitants 200-300 had it as a profession. The other professional Finnish lace-makers were from the town of Orimattila and Tytärsaari island.
We do not know when and how lace making started in Rauma. The knowledge might have come with the seamen, the Franciscan monks or the noble Dutch woman. In historical documents lace-making in Rauma is first mentioned in 1740’s.
The fashion of lace trimmed cap (called tykkimyssy in Finnish) created a high demand for the lace starting from 1700’s into the beginning of the 1800’s. The peak time was the end of 1700’s and beginning of 1800.
At the end of 1700’s lace was popular and sold to such Finnish regions as Pohjanmaa in Western FInland, Hämee and Uusimaa in the South of Finland near Helsinki. In 1807 it was exported to Sweden, Norway, Russia and Copenhagen.
It went out of fashion in 1840’s with the noblewomen because of the new hairstyle. Old women in rural areas were the last to wear the lace trimmed cap on church visits til the end of 1800’s.
Thereafter the main use of lace was in bed linens, pillow slips and tablecloths. But those were not profitable enough to make, so the business of bobbin lace making started to regress. In 1890’s lace was made in factories and Sabina Lundström was one of the few professional lace makers left in Rauma.
In 1901 an architecture student Carl Frankenhaeuser was researching the Rauma church. As he went home in Porvoo and told his mother, a well-educated widow Thella Frankenhaeuser, about the regress of the nice Rauma lace, the woman took great interest in enlivening the lace-making. She got new lace samples and yarn to Rauma women. Years later another organization took over her role as a mediator of Rauma lace and started schooling the lace makers as well (1920 til the war started in 1940).
In 1948 a society of Rauma amateur lace makers was established (Nyplääjät ry), which takes care of preserving the traditions. Rauma Adult Education Center organizes the lace making courses these days.
RAUMA LACE WEEK 2019
This year the festival takes place between Saturday 20th and Sunday 28th of July, 2019. SEE THE RAUMA LACE WEEK PROGRAM HERE
Next year Rauma is celebrating Rauma Lace Week for the 50th time!
The city is filled with exciting events and exhibitions throughout the 9 festival days. The Lace Week consists of 50 exhibition destinations, children’s programme, concerts and live music, all kinds of live performances, handicrafts and arts, traditions and history, wellness and sports events, street markets and the city carnival Night of the Black Lace.
One of the highlights of Lace Week is a friendly battle in which contestants vie for the title of the town’s fastest lace-maker.
Initially, Lace Week was a set of exhibitions during which skilled bobbin lace-makers could display their works, but it has since developed into a wide-ranging communal event.
The most anticipated event of the week is the Night of the Black Lace, when market stalls and merry locals fill the streets of Old Rauma. The warm evening air is filled with the cheerful chatter of friends and music from lively dance halls and outdoor concerts. All shops and boutiques in the Old Rauma area have longer opening hours, and it’s also a busy night for bars and cafés.
Most of the festivities take place in the heart of Old Rauma. The program of the lace week .
The lace shop of Rauma (see here) Pits-Priia is located at Kauppakatu 29. The shop is open on Saturdays throughout the year from 10am to 2pm, and weekdays during the summer months from 10am to 3pm. The shop sells lace products, gifts and equipment for lace makers. There is an exhibition of lace art and you can see a lace maker at work. Another place to learn about the lace history is the Raatihuone (town hall of Rauma) and the nearby Marela house museum. Vanha Rauma is relatively small ( 29 hectares) and every place can be called “nearby”.