In this book, Consiglia Azzopardi brings together an original and unique record of the historical background and skills of Maltese lace making.
Brought up on a farm in Gozo, as a child she watched the cotton grow, helped in its harvesting and observed it being spun and woven on old traditional looms. Similarly, she was present when wool was sheared from the family flock of sheep and was washed, combed, carded and hand-spun on the spindle. It was therefore natural for her to learn how to weave wool into blankets and carpets and to master the intricacies of sewing, embroidery and above all, the art of lace making.
A love of creating and hand working was instilled in her by her talented grandmother, mother and, in particular. her aunt Marie Therese, who taught her the first steps in home crafts.
Fascinated and attracted by the artistic lace patterns, she used to spend many hours after school and during her holidays sitting and working with her aunt, a trajbu and her bobbins. She was later to become a school teacher, and this limited her opportunities to further her interests. However, in time she was appointed to teach lace making at a Girls’ Trade School. With no written records of Maltese lace making available, she had, by necessity to undertake research to provide information for her students. This led to the design of patterns, and her work is to be found in the borders of church vestments, tablecloths, collars and cuffs, coats of arms and family names and, more notably, in the designs for the national costume of a ballet company.
By demand, she started giving short instruction courses that became increasingly popular, and was invited to take part in regular demonstrations of lace making throughout the Maltese Islands. When the school of art was recently opened in Gozo, it was natural that she would be invited to conduct a regular curriculum in lace making.
ln l997 she was appointed coordinator of the Lace making Programme at the Gozo Centre of the University of Malta, whereas in 2002 she obtained an M.Phil at the University of Malta with her thesis ‘Antique Maltese Lace at the time of the Knights l530–l798’.