The art of paper lace making is far more simple and easy of achievement than might appear from a first sight of the result of the work. When the knack of folding the paper has been mastered, the cutting is only a matter of a few minutes; and when the paper is opened out the pattern is made, and the article is ready for use.
The house mistress will find this knowledge useful on many occasions. When she is short of Japanese serviettes or cake-mats, it is a great advantage to be able to provide a pretty substitute at short notice. Used for tray-cloths, also, the cut paper looks as fresh and dainty as embroidered muslin, and half a dozen can be provided for the same cost as the washing of one of the ordinary kind. If the material is carefully chosen, the work will not look common or cheap. The best kind of paper to use is tissue paper, but not that of the flimsiest texture. For some things it is better even to use paper which is slightly thicker. This will, of course, depend on the purpose for which the piece of lace is intended.
The only implements required for work are a little paper punching machine, such as is used for making holes in letters before putting them on a file, and a sharp - pointed pair of scissors. A certain amount of accuracy and dexterity is necessary in wielding the latter. The little machine will, of course, be quite regular in its process of stamping.
For the first experiment a mat may be made, such as would look effective on a china plate for cake. It is not essential when making a round shape to have the piece of paper to begin with of any particular dimensions, so long as it is about the size required for the finished mat.
The first step in making paper lace - folding the paper exactly in half
The paper is folded a second time in half, the lines being straightly defined
Fold the paper exactly in half, then in half again, taking care, of course, that the lines are straightly defined. It is, however, better not to run the finger-nail along these lines, or they will be too sharply defined in the finished mat.
Now turn a quarter of the paper on either side towards the centre, and then double the piece together, giving a V shape. Cut the wide end of the V in neat, regular scallops, then put it under the punching machine and make holes wherever taste suggests, and further puncture the paper by cutting little triangular chips at the sides with the scissors.
The fold should now appear as shown in the illustration, and will be ready to be opened out, when it will be found that the pattern repeats itself most attractively and with the utmost regularity all around the edge of the mat.
The mat should be put under a warm iron, to remove the creases as far as possible before using. If it is not required at once, it may be shut in a heavy volume and laid in a book-press for some hours.
When making articles of a square or oblong shape, such as serviettes and tray - cloths, the exact outline should be cut before folding the paper. The edges may then be laid together and the scallops or points cut before the final folding takes place. It is possible to vary or strengthen the pattern on the paper in the corners according to taste, and a sur-prising number of designs can be worked out with a little ingenuity and patience.
Tray-cloths should, of course, be planned for exactly the size of the tray which they are intended to fit, otherwise the edges will overlap and become torn and crumpled.
Folding a quarter of the paper on either side towards the centre
Cutting the folded paper before punching
Stamping out the pattern with the punching machine
Effective cruet-mats can be made with somewhat stiff paper, either of gold or silver, or of some pretty coloured tint. For an evening dinner table or for a children's supper party, d'oyleys of delicately shaded tissue paper look well for holding sweets and bonbons; but for daytime use, those made with white paper look more fresh and dainty.
Straight pieces of paper lace are useful for trimming hams and joints, and for putting in boxes of homemade sweets. They are very easy to make, as the piece of paper only requires to be cut to the right width and folded over and over before it is scalloped and stamped. Care must be taken that the cutting and stamping go clearly through all the folds, and do not omit the lower layers.
Pretty candle shades may be made in coloured paper. The lace is cut in the same manner as for a round d'oyley, but with a circle taken from the centre, and a section from the side in order to make it the right shape for mounting on the shade foundation. The cut edges should be joined in a tiny fold, fastened with gum, and the top and bottom of the shade may be stiffened with a band of cardboard. The shade would look well made with double paper - the inner piece of very thin texture - so that the light shows up the pattern.
The paper as it appears when punched, ready for unfolding
Two paper serviettes. These are indispensable adjuncts to a picnic or tea-basket, and can be made very easily and inexpensively
Two pretty tray-cloths of different patterns suitable for the early morning tea-tray
Geisha Caps in Paper
Another somewhat novel use for paper lace may be mentioned. It makes charming Geisha caps for maid-servants, or for use in a charade. The round piece should be cut rather small and two pieces stamped out in exactly the same patterns. They are then gathered up into rosettes, and fastened one on either end of a straight strip of paper. The daintiest little cap will be the result, which will last stiff and fresh-looking just as long as a muslin one.
An Amusement for Children
Children quickly become fascinated in making paper lace, and are wonderfully dexterous in forming pretty designs. As an amusement during convalescence a little girl would occupy herself happily for hours in fashioning lace frocks for her dolls in various coloured papers. The daintiest of dolls' headgear can also be made quickly from this accommodating material.