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Will the rolling mill damage antique lace?


Hi all,

Been reading the talk about rolling mills and although I have used it
to make assorted patterns over the years I haven’t used expensive
lace. Mostly not being a lace sort of person but I started thinking
about a antique lace collar I bought years ago while living in
Europe and wonder if it would damage the lace if I used it to make an
impression. I would guess is that it would but how much? Any one
able to tell me about their first hand experience?

Thanks again for all the shared

Sharron in Dhaka where the weather is heating up and the giant,
biting, mosquito’s are a plague this year.


It would ruin it

James Binnion


Hi Sharron,

No, roller printing with your antique lace won’t damage it. It’ll
destroy it utterly.

It’s a one-shot process, as far as the imprint material is
concerned. The materials get crushed under 50-100 tonnes of pressure,
and are squashed flatter than the proverbial pancake. Lace tends to
just crumple to dust once it’s out the other side. Find some cheap
lace in the market, and play with that, and you’ll see what I mean.


It would ruin it 

O.K. that’s the answer but will it produce a good pattern, good
enough to sacrifice the lace?



Short answer is a resounding YES…the pressure from the rollers
will turn your antique into dust…literally…I use lace from thrift
shops or (whisper) the wife’s abandoned underwear :slight_smile:

Steve Holden


YES! At least, in my experience, putting material of any type through
the rolling mill with enough pressure to create a clear impression on
well annealed metal is pretty well fatal to the material.

If the lace collar has sentimental or dollar value to you, keep it
wrapped in tissue paper in your cupboard and don’t let it get near
the rolling mill.

I’ve used all sorts of materials, from chenille, towelling and onion
bags to lace (cheap lace!) and they have all been well and truly
spoiled by the experience. Even the onion bags (which make gorgeous
patterns) don’t survive.

Jane Walker
Australian Natural Gem Jewellery


Hi Sharron,

I have roller printed lace, and the lace I used was completely
pulverized, as in nothing left but tiny mashed bits of silk that
looked nothing like lace. If you are considering copying this lace I
would suggest doing so by other means than a rolling mill. Perhaps a
copy machine and some PnP Blue, then etch the lace design into the
metal in question. Lace cannot at all withstand the pressures needed
to imprint into even fully annealed thin (20 gauge) copper.

Good Luck,


Back when I was doing a little roller printing on silver, I bought
several small pieces of lace trim from a fabric store, one of the
pieces left a nice crisp pattern, I assume it was cotton, all the
rest squashed flat leaving no pattern, I assume they were nylon.


If you don’t want to damage the lace, you should consider etching
the pattern onto a brass plate.

Mary Ellin D’Agostino, PhD


The answer is “yes,” and “no.” The only way you can tell is to try
it. It it works, the answer is “yes.” If it doesn’t, the answer is
"no." Too many factors involved for a definite answer. The strength
of the fabic, the pressure of the rollers, the resistance or lack of
resistance of your metal in accepting the imprint.

If you value your lace, don’t try it. If it is of no value, then go



Hi All,

Thanks for all the answers.

BUT as I said I am not a lace wearing type of person and traveling
and living around the world has left me with a huge collection of
exotic and antique fabrics which are more important than this
particular lace collar.

It has no sentimental value outside of the memory of having lived in
Europe in the past and buying it on a trip to Brussels so I am
willing to sacrifice it IF the pattern will show well. As it’s old
it’s made of cotton lace thread so should work well. Yes, its clear
that it will be ruined but ruin for a good pattern on metal is
different from ruin for nothing. Is there anyone out there that has
used thick lace rolled onto metal and had a lovely impression as a

Not the thin edging lace but the type that was used for collars one
wears over a winter sweater.

Sharron fighting the mosquito plague in Dhaka

O.K. that's the answer but will it produce a good pattern, good
enough to sacrifice the lace? 

It depends on its density and the evenness of that density. Finer
parts will not give a good impression but thicker areas will be
impressed more deeply. In my experience you need to try it out with
any particular lace so there would be more lace destroyed than you
might at first think.

As others have said, get some cheap lace and try it out. You’ll
understand it much better that way than by a million answers here.

I've used all sorts of materials, from chenille, towelling and
onion bags to lace (cheap lace!) 

What do onion bags look like in Australia? Here in my part of the
US, they’re plastic mesh.



Try using a clear coat spray finish to stiffen the lace and make a
better impression when you roll it, it will ruin the lace.

Use a few light coats so you don’t ruin the detail.