Bobbin lacemaking: Slovenian intangible cultural heritage

Handcrafting skills are a pretty common part of traditional values that are being transferred from generation to generation across the Adria region. One such handcraft that is specifically connected to Slovenia is bobbin lacemaking.

Although spread across the country, the region of Idrija can particularly brag about its centuries-old practice.



Bobbin lacemaking, Photo: Urban Urbanc, Sportida doo,


What is Bobbin lace?

Bobbin lace is a type of textile lace that is created by braiding and twisting thread, by using bobbins. The lace is held in place with pins across a pillow which follows a specific pattern you wish to make. This type of handcraft is also called pillow lace.


Idrija Lace, Photo: archive Photo Video Coppo di Marco Coppo,


The popularity of bobbin lace in Slovenia started in the 17th century in Idrija and later spread across Spodnja Idrija, Trnovski gozd, Cerkljanski Vrh, Ljubljana and Selška dolina. However, its biggest success was achieved in Žirovski Vrh, where bobbin lacemaking celebrated its 117th anniversary this year.

As bobbin lacemaking became even more popular in the 19th century,  Ivanka Ferjančič, a bobbing teacher, opened the first Bobbin lace school in 1876. in order to teach children this important handcraft from a very young age. Even older women could join to learn different new patterns.


Idrija lace, Photo: Marko Šinkovec,


Having more than 200 societies across Slovenia who are practicing bobbin lacemaking and being such an important part of cultural heritage and tradition,  UNESCO listed it on the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2018.

To make bobbin lace more interesting to new generations and in order to promote its value, the Association of Lacemakers of Idrija, each year organizes the Idrija Lace Festival somewhere in June.


Idrija lace, Photo: Jani Peternelj, archive Idrija Tourist Board,


If you wish to find out more about bobbin lacemaking in Slovenia and witness the development of this beautiful handcraft, you should definitely visit the Idrija Municipal Museum and Železniki Museum for the full experience, or even better, attend the 42nd Idrija’s Lace Festival next year.



Once I saw that there was a bigger world out there, so I made myself be a part of it.

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