Albs were originally quite plain, but about the 10th century the custom arose of ornamenting the borders and the cuffs of the sleeves with strips of embroidery, and this became common in the 12th century.
It serves for the thatching of roofs, for a papermaking material, for ornamenting small surfaces as a "strawmosaic," for plaiting into door and table mats, mattresses, &c., and for weaving and plaiting into light baskets, artificial flowers, &c. These applications, however, are insignificant in comparison with the place occupied by straw as a raw material for the straw bonnets and hats worn by both sexes.
Towards the end of the same century from 600 to 1000 workmen were, it is stated, employed on one branch of the art, that of ornamenting beads by the help of the blow-pipe.
The early thuribles were usually simple in design; but in the medieval period an architectural form was given to the lids by ornamenting them with towers, battlements and traceries, varying according to the prevalent Gothic style of the period.
This circumstance, together with the custom of ornamenting the basilica of St Peter very richly on the day of the ceremony, accounts for the considerable cost which a canonization entails.