History craft clock
The clock was made of wood suitable to take on several layers of gypsum, which was then engraved and decorated with gold. The case had two doors. The inside door incorporated the hand painted dial to which a hand made clock mechanism by Maltese Clock Master Makers was fixed from behind. Further down in the clock face the moving pendulum could be seen through a decorated aperture. On the front there was another door, which was framed with glass to protect the dial and ornate hands. The clock case was then painted and abundantly decorated with flowers typical of the colourful finish for which the clock is renowned.
These clocks were made either as wall hanging or table clocks. The former were, however, the most popular. Today, the Original Maltese clocks are collectors items and very hard to find for acquisition as they fetch very high prices running into thousands of euros. However, the tradition goes on with the reproduction of these clocks. They are made in the same original manner using the same technique. The only difference is that one cannot find the original hand-made clockwork. Two types of movements are used nowadays: a mechanical movement, which is adapted to be wound from the inside of the clock or a quartz battery movement. The latter is more commonly used being more practical.
The Maltese Clock reproductions come in different colours, the most popular being green, black and terracotta (maroon colour). Mass production is not possible! Malta has a tradition of making some remarkable clocks, in designs unique to the Islands. The industry today is small, but has a fascinating history. These clocks are nicknamed ‘Arlogg tal lira’ clocks. The clocks are laboriously made in intricate stages. Their casings are finely painted and gilded.
Lacemaking in Malta and Gozo trace their origins back to the 16th century. Needlelace was made following the same style as in Venice. This continued until the 19th century when the economic depression present in the islands nearly led to its extinction.
Two people are known to be responsible for introducing and promoting a new lace in these islands in the mid 1800’s. Lady Hamilton Chichester sent lacemakers from Genoa to Malta, where the technique of Italian bobbin lace was developed. They used the old needlelace patterns and turned them into ones using bobbins, instead of the slower time-consuming needles. In Gozo it was the promotion by designer, Dun Guzepp Diacono, that made lacemaking a way of raising the standard of living for local families. It wasn’t long after its introduction before the Maltese/Gozo lace developed it’s own unique style from lace on the continent.
One of the most recognizable traits of Maltese and Gozitan lace is the creamy, honey coloured, Spanish silk from which most of it is made. Black silk was also used until the 20th century when it declined in fashion so it is harder to find today. Later linen was also used in some pieces used for household purposes instead of clothing, as it was more durable.
The last of the most recognizable features are the leaves known as “wheat ears” or “oats”. They are plump and rounded in shape compared to the long narrow Bedfordshire lace leaves. Bedfordshire lace, which is sometimes compared to Maltese lace, has some similarities and were probably both developed from the Genosese bobbin lace. It is interesting to note that larger pieces of real Maltese lace are made by piecing together sections rarely wider than 6 inches. One more thing to look for in assessing Maltese design is the more fluid styles. Genoese lace is more geometric and without the swirls developed in Gozo.
Another interesting item that lacemakers might find interesting is that the patterns do not have the pin holes pre-marked as in the closely related Genoese lace.
History of Maltese Lace
In 1839 Thomas McGill, who issued A Handbook, or Guide, for Strangers visiting Malta, wrote that “the females of the Island make also excellent lace; the lace mitts and gloves wrought by the Malta girls are bought by all ladies coming to the island; orders from England are often sent for them on account of their beauty and cheapness. ”