The lace is made at home and not within the confines of the manufacture.
The lacemaker's tools
The cushion used by lacemaker is called a "carreau". It
is built from a woden frame which is lower at the front, then filled
in with steaw and covered with material or oiled-cloth. On the top
of the "carreau" is placed a cylinder pierced by an axle
allowing it to rotate. The pricked card is set on this cylinder,
as the lace is worked, thelength of it falls to the back and is
stored in a hole called "box" or "cave".
Who are the lacemakers ?
They often learned lacemaking as children, taught by their mother
or the village women. The ones who make a lot of lace have the most
experience : they are single, for some lacemaking being their only
mean of income. If they are widowed, they live in their own home
or at the home of one of their children bringing axtra income for
the family. Maried women either stopped lacemaking through lack
of time or make some punctually. They have followed their husband,
shopkeeper, artisan or farm worker and go back to lacemaking when
their children have grown or after their husband have stopped their
Lace brings a little bit extra as an income which fluctuates depending
on the demand it remains work done at home and remain piece work.
The sale of the lace to the manufactures
The lacemakers go to the manufacture to sell their lace.
It is measured according to an old measuring unit called "l'aune"
which is around 120 centimetres.
When lacemakers live in villages or hamlets over 10 kilometres away
they employ some "leveuses" who collect the work done
for the manufacture in return for a 5 to 10 % commission (before
1850, these "leveuses" were then called merchants, as
they were free lance and did not work for a manufacturer in particular,
they went to the Puy-en-Velay to sell their wares to the highest
The work of a "leveuse" is to spread the orders for lace
between the lacemakers, bringing them the required designs "prickings"
and the thread. They are themselves either lacemakers, shopkeepers,
or farm women, more than not they live in the same village or the
Lacemakers mainly buy their thread from the "leveuse"
or straight the manufacture.
cf. Collection Regards sur une vie :
"Rose OUILHON,leveuse de dentelles"
cf.Catalogue d'exposition :
"La dentelle, des manufactures aux musées"