The House of Braids and Laces

The House of Braids and Laces is a museum-workshop located in Terrasse-sur-Dorlay, in the Rhône-Alpes region of France. This museum, created in 1988, is situated in a renovated former textile factory, Le Moulin Pinte (The Pint Mill), that used a powerful bucket wheel to harness the force of the neighboring Le Dorlay stream.
The lace industry dates back to 1807 in this region. The Moulin Pinte factory benefited from the growth of industrial textile production, employing up to sixty workers at its peak and running nearly six-hundred mechanical looms. Beginning in the mid-19th century, the production shifted towards braids and croquets used for fashion and decoration, adorning fine clothing and lingerie as well as upholstery.
The House of Braids and Laces aims to highlight the singularity of these little-known trimmings crafts by pursuing a limited-series production. The workshop also runs thirty-some of the sixty traditional braiding looms on display to the public. Visitors can immerse themselves in the rich industrial past while also discovering the steps to producing braids. These were traditionally created from natural materials such as cotton, jute, wool, linen, silk and horsehair. The braid is obtained by a narrow interlacing of threads on a braiding board, according to models ranging from a dozen threads to as many as one hundred. This narrow and highly resistant knit today welcomes the inclusion of synthetic materials such as polyester, acrylic, elastomer and even fiberglass.
Since 2012, the museum has undertaken heretofore unprecedented collaborations with artists and textile designers in order to revitalize its collections and enhance its techniques. In permanent conversation with Sara Revil, the technical manager of the machines, Yves Sabourin, exhibition curator and inspector of artistic creation of the Ministry of Culture for contemporary arts and crafts, has developed a unique collection of braids, laces and croquets. For the project titled “Braids 13 14”, he invited over 70 artists, designers and artisans such as Jean-Michel Othoniel, Annette Messager, Adeline André and Nelly Saunier to integrate these innovations into the creation of new works.
Reflecting this unique artistic project to reestablish the creative expertise of the workshop, the House of Braids and Laces hopes to create partnerships with designers to open itself up to contemporary practices, continue to innovate with rarely-used materials such as metal threads and raw silk, and thus revive this former bastion of the Dorlay Valley.