Saba Lace is a unique needlecraft painstakingly created by the industrious women from Saba. It is also known as "Spanish Work" and has a history as special as the island of Saba itself. Five square miles in size and rising almost 3000 feet high, Saba tested the skills of even the most skilled sea captains in the 18th and 19th centuries. No wonder Sabans learned to be very industrious!
In the 1870's, Mary Gertrude Hassell Johnson was sent by her parents to study at a Caracas, Venezuela convent. While she was there, the nuns taught Miss Hassell to create the intricate designs of this needlecraft. Miss Hassell brought the skill bak to Saba and in 1884, when regular mail service first connected the island to the outside world, the wives and daughters of Saba's seafaring men turned to the craft ito a mail-order cottage industry.
Now, more than a century later, the skill learned by a young Saban girl still provides a means of support for many families on the tiny island of Saba. Blouses, dresses, tablecloths, napkins, and bun warmers are only a few of the pieces that Saban women create in a variety of colors.
A few of the Saba Lace ladies, gather each week on Thursday to practice their skill and 'chew the rag' as the old-timers would say. Stop by the Eugenius center on a Thursday afternoon to gain some insight into Saba's history and culture.
* The Saba Lace ladies will soon be moving to the new Heritage center.