Filé Embroidery or Filé Lace

Explaining Concepts
Sometimes there is a confusion about the distinction between laces and the embroidery. Therefore, it is important to clarify the meaning of the terms “laces” and “embroidery”. The “Filé” is classified internationally as an embroidery and this is what “Filé” is.
An “embroidery” is any type of work made through a needle over any type of pre-exisitng base. The types of support can vary according to the results that are intended to be obtained, being a cloth the most common base. Regarding the “Filé” embroidery, it is done over a surface of threads, not over a cloth, being this its peculiar distinction. Two processes are required to produce the “Filé”: first, to build the base net or mesh with cotton strings with very small spacing, and then filling this mesh with several combinations of patterns that will give each “Filé” an unique beauty.
“Laces” is a net of threads that is produced with a help of small pieces of wood or other material, and generates a final product over a flat surface, with empties and full spaces. This final “cloth” is the “Laces” since the net of threads, sometimes planned in advance by drawing the sketch in the cloth, floows the pre established sizes and decorative spots during its execution.
For the Programa de Artesanato Brasileiro (PAB), the “Filé” is considered an european embroiment techinique, passed from generation to generation in the region of the Mundaú and Manguaba laggons in the Alagoas State. It is built over a net called mesh, with small spacing, which serves as base for the execution of the embroiment. The task is done in two steps: the construction of the mesh, and filling up the spaces over the net.
Two craft tools are used to perfom the job, a wooden needle and a bamboo frame to weave the knitting and also making a gum of corn starch for the finalization of the product.
After the mesh is built, it is stretched in a wooden frame and then the embroimnet of the lines (monochromatic or combinations of tones) is initiated, which will give the form of the “Filé”. These combinations are previously designed by the craftwomen and marked in the mesh by modeling the product. Math is required since the spacings in the product have to be precise and rhythmic. Everything is millimetrically calculated, defined and marked. Some craftwomen only fill the mesh, others make the design and filling, and others only work on the mesh. Therefore, there is a labour production chain in the manufacture of this craft, since the very long time is required to fininsh the product, which is a very productive chain for the embroiment business in the area of Mundaú and Manguaba lagoons.

THE ALAGOAS FILÉ

The “Filé Alagoano” is an embroiment technique of european origin, passed from generation to generation in the region of the Mundaú and Manguaba lagoons complex in the State of Alagoas. The embroiment craft is built from a net called mesh, with small spacing, which serves as a base for undertaking the embroiment. The task is undertaken in two steps: the construction of a mesh, and the filling of the mesh. Artesian tools are used for manufacturing the product: a wooden needle and a bamboo frame to weave the mesh, several sizes wooden screens (backstage) to stretch the mesh and the manufacture of the corn starch gum to finish the products. The variation of stitches and complexity of knitting, also the intensity of colors, give the embroiment technique from this region unique characteristics comparing with other embroiments manufactured using the same technique.

Step by Step of the Filé Embroidery