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The history of the Drawn Thread Work of Canary Islands

Much has been said about the art of canarian drawn thread work and its history and origin. However, little attention has been paid to a fact as relevant as the inspiration that gives rise to many figures that make up the tablecloths.

The carving on the wood of canary pine ,,tea”, for example, has always been one of the most relevant aspects of the old Canarian mansions, as many of these have typical Canarian balconies with the respective wood, or have structures that make up the interior of the house.

In both cases, different carved figures can be clearly seen, and in the case of wooden structures, geometric formations that have a great resemblance to openwork.

The most striking case we have in the Casa de los Balcones itself, where one of the roofs of the house has geometric formations that give rise to a hexagonal star very similar to different motifs found in the drawn thread works.


Similarity between the details of the drawn thread work and those of the tea wood of the roof of Casa de Los Balcones


There are two hypotheses that try to explain where the inspiration for the different motifs are made when it comes to make a typical tablecloth comes from.

  1. The first idea arises from the fact that many drawn work embroiderers  were daughters of carpenters who woked by carving in wood of pine tea. This may have influenced the fact that the designs of the motifs have had a great similarity with the works of their parents.
  2. One of the Casa de los Balcones’ drawn work embroiderers,  considers that some motifs may also be inspired by the perfect and beautiful spider webs. Like spider webs, this work requires a combination of threads and tremendous skill to finally conclude with a work that impresses the eyes of the beholder.

It is a fascinating to see that both the conceptual and the material provenance of the Canarian drawn thread work are united in the same concept.

Currently there are certain motifs such as the butterfly or the conch whose origin is unknown, although the origin of the idea is clearly deduced from its name.

There are others, on the other hand, which are already unique and unrepeatable since they have been lost over time. They are so complex designs that they are almost impossible to make them again. These correspond in some cases to the most select tablecloths that Casa de los Balcones has.


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