There are so many interesting new departures in the way of textiles arts and crafts in London that it would seem the spirit of the day was trending more and more to the appreciation of fine arts other than those of painting and drawing. Thus in New Bond Street the small shop front of 108 holds dainty specimens of Venetian lace. The needle-point can be had in almost priceless varieties, and the bobbin lace so exquisitely dainty and gossamer-like, may be a lesson to those who try to resuscitate our own English lace. For this purpose the fine handspun thread of Burano should be used, and may be obtained. The value of lace so made is trebled, for the shape of hand-spun thread is just the quality which gives to old lace its artistic beauty.
Linen that has been torn and macerated and gassed beyond and above the original setting which prepares the fibre for spinning is in a very different condition to the exquisite distaff spun thread which has been carefully heckled by hand and bleached by the careful spinner, who loves her work too much to render it valueless by chemicals. So beautiful is the natural texture of hand-spun linen thread that certain manufacturers, realising how no heat or gassing could restore its beauty, have had recourse in woven linens of the cheaper kind to dressing it with the shining barytes so plentifully found in Ireland. Granulated sugar has before now been similarly adulterated, and in both cases the sharp mineral is a most dangerous addition to the manufactures.
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In the new school starting close to Dublin the spirit of patriotism hopes to breathe through various arts this very spirit of individuality into its product. Dun Emer—the "Home of Ever" (that queen of needlework, tapestry, and art who was to Irish industry what St. Margaret was to that of Scotland)—will be the poetic title of this new foundation.
A poet, an embroideress, trained under auspices which ensure high-souled ambition, a designer whose kindergarten training should give at least fertility of resource, and a chief whose earnest desire to secure perfection in the arts to be practised, these initiators should earn for the "Home of Ever" a position in the forefront of industry.
Irish fingers have that extraordinary delicacy which when possessed by women predestine them to eminence in needlework and when a surgeon is blessed with them is, it has been said, the best equipment for success in his profession. Add to Irish fingers Irish patriotism, which is the sublimest form of individualism, Irish imagination, which lends wing to art, and traditions that they have never as yet been debased because they have been hidden in the hearts of the people; and we may find in this new school a fountain which may spring up for the refreshment of thought, the invigorator and vivifier of national art.