Folk Art PA

Antonella DiIanni

Italian Bobbin-Lace
(Shaping Community)

Antonella DiIanni came to Pittsburgh in 1960, where she continues making lace and has received several honors.  She also enjoys teaching lace making to young apprentices.

“Lace-making represents the pride, values, and artistic expressions of both my Italian heritage and myself."

Antonella DiIanni learned bobbin-lace from the women in her hometown of Pescocostanzo, in the Abruzzi region of Italy where bobbin-lace is believed to have been perfected as early as the 1400s.  Every girl was expected to master lace-making, and young Antonella spent many hours learning the art, while concentrating on the precision, speed, and quality of her work.  Not only was lace-making a skill that signaled readiness for marriage, it was also a form of insurance against the loss of income should something happen to one’s father or husband.  The finished work was placed on tables, constructed into clothing, or used to decorate areas of the home.

More than 60 years later, DiIanni still strives to achieve the mastery of those who taught her.  In 1992, she was invited to the National Folk Festival in Johnstown to display her work. "There, more than ever, did I come to realize what a rare, unique, and valuable tradition I had in my hands," she says.