[ Home ]   [ Bobbins ]   [ Pillow Parts ]   [ Lacemaking Furniture ]   [ Lacemaking Accessories ]  
[ Sewing & Needlework ]   [ How to Order ]   [ Payment & Warrenty ]   [ Lace & Bobbin FAQ-tory]  
[ Supplier Links]  [ Bobbinmakers]   [ Museums, Org's, & Guilds ]   [ Upcoming Events ]  
[ Other Names of Lace]   [ Wood Definitions]   [ About me.]  
[Mail: Kenn@Bobbinmaker.com ]

Where are the South African bobbin makers?

For what it is worth. I am certain that this will come up again and will add whatever exists then.

The address that you have is correct. This is Janice Savage's postal address. Honeydew is a suburb of Johannesburg or Randburg. I am not too sure which one it falls under. The telephone number is correct. You should be able to dial 011-27-11-958-1463. The 011 is the international dialing number, 27 is the country, 11 is the Johannesburg area.

Russell Montgomery
Austin, TX, USA

Jane raised the South African source of horn bobbins.

Over the years the South African bobbins have been mentioned quite often on the list. They appear to have made a wide variety of bobbins that seem to be unique.

I have no idea as to the activity of the SA bobbin makers, but I too would like to know what they are making these days.


Don't know what all the bobbin makers in SA are doing, but in Cape Town most are making the Midlands-type bobbins, with a few Continental for special orders. Some are plain wood, others have inlays, brass wire decorations, mother-and-babe, cow & calf, etc. All types of wood are used, local and imported.

Occasionally we can also get blown glass ones, with or without beads in the body. Also, a few brass and aluminium were made, for something different. The brass are wonderful for gimps!! Heavy enough for the thicker thread, and they stand out from the rest of the bobbins, so they are easy to see. (There are still a *few* left in stock)

I haven't seen any horn ones though that doesn't mean that they aren't made.

A while ago (some years) there were bobbins made that were called 'South African' bobbins, which were a different style of bobbin. They were sold around the world, any I have heard of them in use in the UK. If anyone is interested, I will get the info on these. (May take a few days).

In a sunny & warm Cape Town

It all started with a lady, Mrs. Ellen Metcalfe, being interested in making lace, and not having sufficient bobbins. She asked a local cabinet-maker, Mr. W.F. Moses (known as Mosie), to turn her some bobbins.

Mosie was unhappy copying the patterns of other bobbin-makers, and Ellen was having difficulty finding suitable beads for spangling. Continental bobbins rolled all over the pillow.

So Mosie came up with his own shape – a South African bobbin that does not roll and does not need beads, made from our beautiful indigenous woods. It is square at the bottom, so that it does not roll, and is solid enough to have the necessary weight not to need beads.

Matching prickers and dividers were made, with the same basic shape.

Mosie produced a large range of bobbins for the local and export markets. He also supplied a catalogue and, with Ellen, a quarterly newsletter.

The catalogue of 1984 features standard South African bobbins, as well as 'rainbow bobbins', painted in Bauermalerei style by Ellen, bobbins with painted 'people' on the end, adapted Belgian, German and British style bobbins, special prickers and dividers, and handcrafted wooden boxes for keeping special bobbins safe. Most bobbins were available in special presentation sets, featuring special woods or types. One could order a monthly pair of bobbins, and there was an interesting range of commemorative bobbins.

The first commemorative bobbin Mosie made was bought and displayed by the Afrikaner museum. Its body was in the shape of a cricket bat, and it celebrated the first international cricket visit after 13 years. The museum also has some of the South African bobbins.

Unfortunately, these bobbins are no longer available.

The Lace Museum is at the other side of Franschoek - it is a private museum, owned and run by Nick Croser, lace collector. lace maker and lace teacher.

Nick would have more information about any French-descendant lacemakers. As far as I know, there are no lacemakers in that area that are members of the Cape Lace Guild (that doesn't mean that there are no lacemakers there!).

I will get Nick's details at our Guild meeting on Saturday, and pass them on to you to follow up.


These are my thoughts/ideas/words, where Part 1 was more the 'official' version and history.

It would seem as though these bobbins were made from about 1982. Around 1984 they were very popular with collectors and overseas buyers. They were much more expensive than other bobbins available locally, so not many lacemakers could afford them.

The workmanship is excellent, and they are apparently very nice and easy to work with. The bobbins are an unusual mixture of styles - making a very unique bobbin style. A 'typical' South African Bobbin is made as follows: (description taken from pictures, as I do not have the genuine article)

The head is an elongated ball with a deep groove, giving the impression, almost, of a double head. The neck is slim, as normal, and fairly long. The body is where it all happens! The top 1/3 to 1/2, near the neck edge, is turned or decorated as for an English-style bobbin. The remainder is about the size of a continental bobbin, but instead of being round, it is left square, with only the edges rounded off (to prevent snagging). The beginning and end of this section may be tapered.

The base may be rounded off, or have a ball end (as the English bobbins), or have another square section, which may, or may not have a small ball at the base.

Because of the shape and weight of the bobbins, there is no hole for a spangle, as this was not necessary. Some of the bobbins may be inscribed, or painted. The Cape Lace Guild *may* have a catalogue in the library, if anyone is interested I could, possibly, get photo copies of some of the bobbins.

These are my impressions. If anyone has a South African Bobbin, and would like to add anything, I would be interested to hear about it.


Well, thanks to Barbara we have got back on to the "square bobbin" thread of a few moons back. It seems that at least in modern times the South African bobbin challenges the earlier "sightings" of such a tool.

I am not sure where I filed the square bobbin stuff but I hope I can find it to add to the other information that I gleaned at that time. Thank you Barbara.

Also see Square Bobbins and Horn Bobbins .

Return to previous page
Go to home page.

This page was created by Kenn Van-Dieren
Copyright © 1998/2013 Bobbins by Van-Dieren; all rights reserved.