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