Now this is one of those strange coincidences that happen on line. First Barbara Blankenship has an article Oya lace in CQMag online. The lace illustrated in this article is the lace I know as Oya. Next Allison featured her collection on her blog, then I received an email from from Elizabeth of Quieter Moments (check out what she has done with this weeks stitch it’s fantastic) who pointed me to Sunshine’s Creations who is also asking questions about this form of lace.
There is very little online about this type of lace. This brief definition in Art of Oya describes Oya as a knotted lace but the image featured does not match what I know as Oya. The same article suggests that another term this lace is known by is Bebilla but the lace that I have seen was not the same as the lace illustrated here. I saw Bebilla lace in the Victorian and Albert Museum and it was the same type of Oya that Barbara and Allison have. The lace I saw was fringed with little 3 dimensional shapes of flowers and fruit and did not lay flat, like the lace in Allison’s and Barbaras collection. It may be a knotted form of the lace but when I saw it I thought it was a 3D form of needlelace.
Why do I say I think it’s needle lace? Apart from seeing the samples in the V & A I have worked needle lace and know that you can work it into 3d structures. Below is an image which is part of a crazy quilt block. The little flowers have a cup into which I tucked a bead. They are three dimensional and built up using detached buttonhole stitch which is the foundation of all the variations of stitches found in needle lace.
There is more information on needlelace structures and an example of needle lace worked in a three dimensional fashion. Take a look and you will see what I mean. Here is a contemporary needle lace also worked in a 3D fashion. Finally if you go to this site, select needle lace and then click small you will see Oya being sold online. As I have said I could be wrong but I think Oya is made using a needle rather than knotting thread. I could be totally wrong. Any lace makers out there know the answer?