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Make Dolls House Scale Miniature Lace Bobbins Using Files and Toothpicks

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Make Traditional Styles of Lace Bobbins in Miniature
Honiton Lace Bobbins

Miniature lace bobbins in the pointed Honiton style, made in dolls house scale from a wooden toothpick.

Photo © 2013 Lesley Shepherd

Bobbin lace is a tradition in many countries, made using a pillow with a pattern and weaving thread around pins by manipulating small, 5 to 6 inch (12-15cm) long wooden or bone bobbins. The bobbins are a traditional lovers gift, and were often elaborately carved and decorated. There are a wide range of traditional lace bobbin styles and many are highly collectible. You can see several of the styles on the lace equipment page of Jo Edkins.

While full size bobbins are most often turned on a lathe, or hand carved, the easiest way to make small enough bobbins for realistic dolls house scales, is to use flat, square edged jeweller's files and shape a toothpick or small dowel. If you wish to emulate bone lace bobbins, you can use white plastic toothpicks using the same method.

The dolls' house scale lace bobbins shown on this page are "Honiton" style bobbins, with a pointed end. Spangled bobbins, styles with a blunt end and a hoop of beads on wire, can be found further on in these instructions on page 8. The Honiton bobbins are the simplest style of lace bobbin to make in miniature. To make them, you will need pointed round toothpicks made from wood or plastic, small plastic rods, or wooden dowels. Bamboo skewers are not suitable for this project.

To shape the bobbins you will need:

  • Fine Sandpaper - I used 220 grit
  • A Craft Knife or Hobby Knife - preferably with a curved scalpel blade.
  • Fine Jewellers Files or needle files - A round or half round file to shape the bobbin handles and a flat or square file to shape the bobbin stems are the most useful. If you don't have files, you can use sandpaper over a stiff piece of plastic as a sanding block.
  • Fine Thread - to wrap on your bottom for lace scenes on a pillow.

Useful but not necessary are fine silk thread instead of cotton thread for your bobbins, Japanese Seed Beads in a size 15/0 or smaller, or vintage Italian beads in a size 18-22 and fine beading wire to make the traditional beaded 'spangles' which weight down lace bobbins. You might also want a miniature drill or pin vise, to drill a hole in the handle for the spangle wire.

Instructions for making a miniature lace maker's cookie or mushroom pillow to accompany the lace bobbins can also be found on this site.

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