Bruges, Part 3

In my last post I said there were two main reasons I was interested in visiting Bruges. One had to do with having seen the movie In Bruges and being captivated by the city’s architecture. The other had to do with lace and that’s what this, my third and final post on Bruges, is about. Well, at least for starters.
The lace center – the Kantcentrum – and museum is located just around the corner from Jerusalem Church where one of the scenes from In Bruges was filmed (visit this post to see the inside).

On my first full day in Bruges I set out on a quest to find the Kantcentrum. Generally, when there’s a particular thing I want to see or do in a city, I map out and walk to the location from my hostel on one day and then visit the site on the next. I’ve often found that the search itself can be so exhausting that by the time I’ve found the place I’m too tired to peruse it! But the Kantcentrum was easy to find, so I visited the museum that day. I learned I had to buy a ticket to go to the associated lacemaking school so I did that and planned to visit it the next day. The following few pictures are from the museum.
These are simply called ‘pillows’ for lacemaking.

These two are quite old. Below are a variety of old tools and supplies.
And here are a number of pieces of antique lace.
It’s hard to imagine the hours and hours that went into making these pieces.

Lace is not only a thing, a noun. It is a process, a verb.
I’m not terribly knowledgeable about the history of lace. In fact, from what I understand, its early history is vague. This is in part due to the fact that it evolved from other techniques, making it impossible to say that it originated in any one location. But, the first known lace pattern books were printed in Venice in the mid 1500’s. There are two types of lacemaking – needle lace and bobbin lace. I’m mostly interested in bobbin lacemaking.

Actually, I never wear lace! I don’t like frilly, delicate things in what I wear or how I decorate my space. But I’m fascinated with the technique and in awe of people who do it skillfully. When I see lace, I see and appreciate the work that went into it…. and, yes, I did buy a bit of handmade lace!

I just love this piece made with linen thread.
As I said, the next day I went to the lacemaking school. It was just a small room with about 10 or so people working on their pieces. You can walk around and observe, take pictures and ask questions. Some people there speak a bit of English, some not so much. I speak not one word of Flemish.
Could you keep track of where all these bobbins have been and where they’re supposed to go next? Whew! Not sure I could!
Here’s a short video of an expert (in my opinion, anyway) at work.

Each twist of the thread may be equated to one ‘stitch’ in a sense. Lace is simply twisted thread. No knots. Only twists.

This man was working on a piece (not the one he’s displaying here) that blew me away. It was so beautiful. He was using a nearly 500 year old pattern that, to his knowledge, had not been used since its early days.

This is it. So lovely.



Here is his copy of that original pattern. I think I’d go cross-eyed trying to follow it.


Lovely, lovely, lovely.
Down the street from the Kantcentrum is an old inn and pub called the Black Cat which has been turned into a museum. It’s also known as the Folk Museum….
… I went for a visit.


It’s still used as a gathering place. Here are a group of men playing some sort of bocce ball.



The museum was mostly a tribute to the early ‘modern’ days of Flemish society.

Here are some quaint remnants of an old schoolhouse.
A grocer’s.
Tools and that which are made by tools.



These are meerschaum pipes. My dad used to have one, so I have a bit of an affinity for them. They’re carved from the mineral sepiolite, a.k.a. meerschaum.

The milliner’s tools….

….and products.

The tailor’s shop.
Note that the tailor is sitting cross-legged on his table. This was a quite normal practice and it’s thought that it was done because it did not overtax the back, the long pieces of cloth wouldn’t fall on the floor, working material was close at hand and (my favorite) it was warmer to have the wool on his lap during the chilly winter months. Makes perfect sense to me!

A candy kitchen.
The big slab of marble made it easy to work the hot, gooey candy without it sticking to the surface.

The pharmacy.

There was also a small room off the pub dedicated to ‘poppenspel’ which means puppeteer. This was a popular form of entertainment in the early to mid-20th century.

Oy, some of these puppets are creepy looking!

But, I love, love, love these graphic advertising prints.

Especially this one (below).
Really cool.
Here’s a look out a window and a few other nice things I saw as I strolled about.
A positively gorgeous needlepoint child’s jacket.

A pleasant, quiet courtyard.

And what would the Black Cat Inn be without a black cat?
So, it’s time I finally wrap up my visit to Bruges. I’ll share with you here a few random photos of places and things I saw (be sure to click on any picture to isolate it and see it more distinctly). I rarely do this many posts on one city, but it was just fascinating and beautiful and I took many, many pictures! The only other city I’ve covered more than this is Buenos Aires (hhmmm…. or maybe it was Ha Noi….not sure). If you do a search in the archives of this blog for September and October of 2017, you’ll find about 10 or 11 posts I did on Buenos Aires. But then, I was there for about a month. A wonderful city. I would love to go back some day. Anywho, back to Bruges….
Just wandering around, as I do, I came across this old windmill.


It was fenced off with a lace-covered fence!


When I said lace is not only a noun, but also a verb, this is what I meant – one doesn’t normally associate a chain-link fence and plastic-coated wire with lace, does one? But, indeed, that’s what’s been done here. The ‘grid’ of the fence was used to work the wire through and voilà – lace! I think it’s an ingenious idea.

Here’s the Saturday market at town center.

It was a drizzly, grey day and this dog (center, right) was sitting on a bit of cardboard. You could almost hear him thinking, “Mom? Dad? Can we go home now?”
Here are a few pictures that appease my penchant for numbers and signs….

This sign was on a restaurant owned by Ren’s family….
And these appease my penchant for doors and windows.

This is actually a garage door. I love the color.

I saw this picture that we all know and love in the corner of a window.
Now finally, yes finally… no, I really mean it – finally …. here are some of my favorite shots I took of the city.

I took the following picture when I was in the bell tower I wrote about in my previous post. I love the Escher-esque quality of it.

I don’t think there’s much more I can add.
Just go to Bruges and wander. You’ll be glad you did.

7 thoughts on “Bruges, Part 3

  1. The time and effort you’ve put into these three Bruges posts is amazing Jan, a real treat. Thanks so much for sharing. I feel like I’ve been there and yet…


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