My Adventure Through Our Family Tree Branches

For over 50 years my Dad researched both his and my Mom's family tree branches - and loved every minute of it! Trying to fulfill the promise I made him the last month of his life, I have spent the past four years continuing where he left off - finding out about all the many family members who came before us, from the many branches of our family trees. The histories will still be published as my Dad always wanted. But what he wanted most was to share the stories of the people who came before us - the places they lived, the cultures of the times, the families they created, and the circumstances - good and bad - that would one day lead to us, their descendants. These are the stories of my Mom's families. . . .

Surnames in this Blog


Thursday, October 20, 2011

THURSDAY'S TREASURE - Odalie Fortier Horst's 19th Century Lacework

Odalie Felice Fortier was born August 31, 1857 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was the seventh child of eleven born to Jacques Omer Fortier (1813-1867) and Augustine Melanie Laperle DeGruy (1822-1872), my 3x-great-grandparents. By the time she was fifteen she had suffered the death of both of her parents. Odalie moved with her young siblings to Mobile, Alabama to be cared for by her maternal aunt Julia Elodie DeGruy Mendoza (1828-1914). Odalie is my great-great-grandmother.

Here Odalie met and married Charles Frederick Horst (1856-1912). Odalie and Charles, my great-great-grandparents, eventually settled in Birmingham, Alabama. Together they had five children including my great-grandmother Pearl Alphonsine Horst (1884-1961).

Odalie was very talented in the art of tatting. She used her talent to create the Flemming Family's Baptismal gown in 1884 for her first child. Several of her lace pieces have been passed down through the family. I know of four pieces that have been framed and hang on relatives' walls. Here is one of Odalie's lace collars.

Never heard of tatting before?

Tatting and Its History
"Tatting is a technique for handcrafting a particularly durable lace constructed by a series of knots and loops. Tatting can be used to make lace edging, as well as doilies, collars, and other decorative pieces. The lace is formed by a pattern of rings and chains formed from a series of cow-hitch, or half-hitch knots, called double stitches, over a core thread. Gaps can be left between the stitches to form picots, which are used for practical construction as well as decorative effect." [from]

It is believed that tatting may have developed from netting and the ropework done by sailors and fishers, often made into gifts for their wives and girlfriends. Knotting, as it was then known, would be reworked and become the art of tatting. The French call it frivolite; the Italians call it occhi; the German word for the craft is schiffchenarbeit; the Swedish call it frivolitet.

"At the start of the nineteenth century tatting was a popular English occupation and in 1843 the Ladies Handbook of Millinery, Dressmaking and Tatting was published. This was to be the start of many books on the subject. Up to this time tatting patterns were passed down from tatter to tatter by word of mouth or simply copying other pieces of work. Shortly after this, in 1850, the woman regarded as the 'mother' of modern tatting appeared on the scene. She was Mademoiselle Eleonore Riego de la Branchardiere, a half-Irish, half-French woman who had a 'fancy warehouse' in London and supplied lace-making and embroidery materials. Between 1850 and 1868 Mlle Riego (as she liked to be known)
published eleven little pattern books showing mainly borders and insertions in tatting. Mlle Riego used picots to join the rings together but she used a needle to do it at first and not a shuttle, as it wasn't until 1851 that an unknown writer published instructions on how to join with a shuttle and so improved the method of tatting.
"Probably the main authority on tatting after Mlle Riego was Mlle Therese de Dillmont, a French woman who wrote what is considered by many to be the needlework bible - her Encyclopedia of Needlework published in 1886 and still available and selling well today. In the chapter on tatting Mlle de Dillmont covers many types of edgings and braids as well as projects such as bedspreads combining tatting and crochet.
"In fashionable society a lady never sat empty-handed and idle. She used either her fan or her knotting
shuttle to show off her hands and to make her look composed and graceful as well as industrious.
" [from]
from Tatting, or Frivolite, by Cornelia Mee
London 1862

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful! I love to hear about pieces like this that remain in a family for many generations instead of getting tossed in the trash or donated to Goodwill. I tried to learn to tat but never got the hang of the shuttle.