Bet you don't know what this is.
I had never even heard of it before I saw a man spinning it in a video demonstration at the Israel Museum.
OK! This contraption is called a shpanyer and what it does is shpanyer arbet.
This craft was a technique using gold or silver thread to create a complex design with geometric or plant motifs, woven at a special workshop.
The workers were called shpanyer machers.
Here's what the museum says about this metal-thread lacework:
Shpanyer is a kind of lacework made by winding metal thread around cotton or linen thread to create interlacing patterns. Though its origins are unclear, this technique is believed to have been exclusively practiced by Jews, who used it to embellish items of clothing--particularly ornamental neckbands for prayer shawls.
In the 19th century, shpanyer work was mainly practiced in Sassov, Galicia [now the Ukraine], and the products were sold all over eastern Europe and the United States.
In the 1930s shpanyer was brought to the Land of Israel; today the craft is practiced by a Belzer Hasid who continues it in its traditional form.
In fact, the one on display is an anonymous loan, "arranged with the help of a Belzer Hasid."
The heyday of the production of shpanyer arbet was from the late 19th century to the 1930s.
Several YIVO articles have interesting information and photos of the machine and its products:
1. Shpanyer Arbet
2. Dress of Jews in Eastern Europe
3. Ceremonial and Decorative Art
One of them explains thus (I know gar nichts about sewing so it is over my head, but I hope you get it):
Shpanyer arbet was created on a table that held a rotating drum and a wooden framework from which hung four bobbins. The bobbins were threaded with cotton or linen, which was woven to produce a cord. Metal thread on shuttles was woven across the cotton or linen. The resulting cord was coiled, following a paper pattern resting on the drum, and secured to itself.
The pieces were used to decorate articles of clothing.
.(A post for ABC Wednesday meme.).