Contents in This Month's Issue
• A Letter to Our Friends
• Current Exhibit: The Bird in the Textile Arts
• Featured Exhibit in our Museum Shop:
‣ Kuna Molas of the San Blas Archipelago
‣ The Shetland Lace Sampler of Cathy Adair-Clark of Windsor, Colorado
• Ongoing Exhibits: Worn to Dance—1920s Fashion & Beading
• Recently Sold in Our Etsy Shop
• Historical Textile Trivia
• New Products & Publications
• Customer of the Month: Siobhan
• Classes at Lacis
• Textile Arts Calendar
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The winter holidays are upon us! As the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer, so does our appreciation grow: for family, for friends, and for all things cozy and warm, festive and traditional.
At Lacis, you'll enter to a flurry of snowflakes, our own unique holiday practice (that we happened to lately adopt as a year-round installation). These are made from vintage lace doilies blocked into upright circles with fine-gauge wire, strung with monofilament from our ceiling. If you're as enchanted by these as we have been, we have kits for you to transform your own soft doilies into upright snowflakes. (Pro tip: Randomly varying the height of the snowflakes is key to simulating the appearance of falling snow!)
Another tradition we have here is our annual Textile Alphabet. This always begins on December 1 on our Facebook page. Each day is a new letter and a new fun fact—and it's sure to give you some good ideas for inspired gifts for the textile enthusiast.
Big news, Lacis friends! Next year, the SFO Museum (where right now travelers can view an amazing exhibit on the Victorian Papered Wall, going on until next August) will be borrowing Lacis's collection of piña textiles. Read our Message from the Director for more details!
We'll be sure to keep you posted on all new developments. Given that the scope of the LMLT collection of piña cloth is unrivaled in the world, we are proud and more than happy to share it with the world and its travelers who pass through the international terminal of our beautiful SFO.
Clockwise from top left: An ivory etui of essential sewing notions ; an opera coat elaborately embroidered with goldwork ; a silver Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme pincushion ; and a pair silver of folding snips .
The items above were part of a recent donation from Oakland-based antiques lover Rhoma Young. For decades, she has been a prodigious, passionate collector of lace, fine antique jewelry, and vintage fashions.
Elaine DiMasi is not only a physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs—she's one of our favorite cross-stitchers. Just look at this gloriously spooky-sweet sweater she embroidered with the pattern "Thorn Castle" by Natalia Luneva, and was published in the 2017 Halloween special issue of Just Cross Stitch. (The secret to its perfection? Waste canvas. Elaine always uses it, and as a result, her stitches are impeccably consistent.)
And as if THAT wasn't enough, a couple of years ago, Elaine ran for Congress in New York's 1st District, and her candidacy was endorsed by the AWP (American Women's Party).
Another creative customer with a cool project in hand was the lovely Jennifer Jennings. She came in for beading needles and a stronger beading thread (the silky threads she'd been using for the netting proved too fragile to hold very long); she decided to play around with some of our super-strong Silamide thread, a popular thread for jewelry-making, since it comes in so many great colors.
Jennifer makes beaded necklaces, like this one, wherein a netted cage or basket snugly holds a piece of coral from her world travels, creating a magical pendant pregnant with meaning and memory. She even twisted the contrasting silk for the cord herself, resulting in a subtle yet striking color combination. The shades of the necklace cording, combined with that of the synthetic opal seed beads, make a lovely palette of creamy pastel hues.
Jennifer's work is all the more remarkable because she's primarily self-taught, and still pushing herself further, always experimenting—and, like so many of our Lacis guests, she loves to draw from falling-apart vintage resources. For example, she has a favorite deteriorating purse from which she harvests falling beads from, for incorporation into new projects. Fantastic work, Jennifer!
This piece is utterly unrecognizeable, compared to when Mary Ann first encountered it. Years of damage, including smoke, soot, mildew, blood and rust, had transfigured it into a rather different thing than you see now, with its original glory painstakingly restored—even with all its original gold bullion gone, it is resplendent, almost glowing.
Mary Ann Walsh has been mending this incredible piece of embroidered Chinese silk—one of a pair, actually—for a friend of hers, Cynthia Kopek. She did such a great job choosing her threads, opting for a flat Japanese silk dyed just right shade of celery. You can just barely see the supportive patch in the photo on the right. She's also going to mount it on a backing.
Mary Ann has always been attracted to conservation studies, but ultimately her life's path took her elsewhere. However, this project was her opportunity to practice her beloved craft of conservation, as well as her the opportunity to assist her friend in repairing and protecting something wonderful: a win-win all around.
If you're looking for holiday gift ideas, we have many suggestions. You'll find under our roof everything from fabulous books to useful sewing notions; we're carrying a whole new range of dazzling printed scarves; and we have a special staff-curated selection of charming vintage household linens, most featuring delicate handmade lace accents and sweet embroidered motifs.
If you're totally at a loss, but you know your intended recipient is a crafter, vintage clothes or textiles lover, or an otherwise creative being—we love a challenge. Come into Lacis and tell us what this person likes and does. Describe to us their personal aesthetic, or show us what they've made. We'll find you the perfect thing. And if that should fail, we always have gift certificates!
Well, that's it for this month, folks. And for this year. 2021 sure has been real, hasn't it?
To all our friends, visitors, and textile instructors, old and new, from near and far—your support has been most welcome and appreciated. The Lacis Museum of Lace & Textiles simply wouldn't be the same without you. We hope you all have a safe and happy holiday, and we'll touch base with you again next year. Peace out!
These charmingly arranged crochet samples now in the museum collection were recently donated by Peggy Day, of Franklin, Michigan.
Assisi Embroidery, Italy
Early 19th c. 
The bird in literature and on canvas has long held its place through all civilizations and all times.
The bird captured in thread and textiles is more obscure and less defined. Depicted by a single thread, a bountiful palette of threads, a thread following a hook or threads flowing in harmony through the bobbins of lace, the bird is captured by the hands of the creator.
This amazing presentation captures this spirit from Pre-Columbian Peru to the earliest of laces to a world of unbound wealth of thread, color and needle.
These beautiful examples of Mola are representative of a recent donation from Carolyn Stratton Darby Gragg, of Piedmont. They were obtained—literally—in the waters of Panama:
"We spent quite a bit of time there visiting while we were on our sailboat in 2008. We bartered for some of them with fishing gear, i.e. hooks, lines, buckets and with sewing and school supplies."
The Kuna people would navigate their small boats (dugout canoes called ulu) out into the bay of the archipelago, where Carolyn's own vessel was anchored, to make these trades.
A traditional art form of the Kuna people of Panama on the San Blas Islands, the Mola panels are part of their traditional costume, with matching panels worn on the front and back of a blouse.
The distinctive Mola employs a reverse-applique base using multiple layers of colorful fabric, with surface embroidery embellishments to complement the designs. Themes range from the purely organic to geometric, with the colorful local bird population as an obvious subject—a fitting tie-in to our newly-opened exhibit, The Bird in the Textile Arts. When you get a chance, drop into the Museum Shop to see eight of Carolyn's gorgeous Mola panels on display!
Can't get enough of these electrifying colors, and tales of ocean voyages, exploration and adventure? Blogger Mira Nencheva of The Life Nomadik extensively documented her time among the Kuna people, in writing and photographs—including about their aforementioned style of nautical trading and their Mola-making tradition. The University of Oregon's Museum of Natural and Cultural History has some nice Molas available to look at online, too.
Sections of the Shetland Lace Sampler of Cathy Adair-Clark
This generous donation of decorative textile artworks from Cathy Adair-Clark is a tour de force of talent and devotion to the world of needlework, specifically her world of knitting and Shetland yarns: "I fell in love with Shetland sheep and their fleeces, and that has ruled my life since 2007."
The magnificent Shetland lace sampler she constructed in 2012 is 8 feet by 6½ feet, comprising 67 different fleeces of yarn, all hand-spun by Cathy herself. We also have her personally compiled tome of sketches available for your perusal, with each motif and its pattern, along with sources and progress reports, all passionately and fastidiously documented.
Now open for tours by appointment!
• Masks are required for all individuals
• Tours are $3.00 per person and must be reserved in advance—calling us at (510) 843-7290 is best
• Tours can be scheduled for Monday, Tuesday or Saturday at 1:00 PM & 3:00 PM
• Tours have a (2) person minimum & (10) person maximum
• For Museum Members and their guests (4 max), tours are free!
• Please note that the second-floor gallery at this time is only accessible via stairs
Almost 100 years ago, with the dawn of the Jazz Age, life changed dramatically for women in America. Suddenly the 1920s woman could vote, drive, spend her own money, smoke and drink in public, cut off her long hair, expose her calves, forgo her corset and—perhaps most iconic of all—she could dance.
The most iconic pastime of the 1920s was dancing in nightclubs and speakeasies. Here women and men could freely socialize to the rhythm of Hot Jazz.
That rhythm is most clearly made visual in the image of the flapper, with her (relatively) short dress, which sparkled in the dim lights, given heft, form and movement by the innumerable beads sewed to its simple shift-shaped form.
These dresses, like the Jazz Age itself, were never destined to last. With the weight of the beads continually testing their union with the fragile silk, their eventual collapse was inevitable, as evidenced by the beads abandoned on the dance floor when the party was over.
This is why, though the dresses remained the quintessential symbol of the times, so few of them remain today. By attentive restoration, we have been able to present examples of these dresses as they appeared when they first shone, as well as fascinating examples of dresses in different stages of the construction process.
From the collection of LMLT; conceived of and curated by the LMLT staff
Running from November 16, 2019—Extended end date TBD
Maayankraj Singh of Rajasthan, India, is a watercolour artist, couturier, writer and collector of all things Edwardian, and the founder of Atelier Shikaarbagh. He makes and restores period garments in his little studio in India.
And we were so thrilled when the talented and controversial photographer and X-games champion (in-line skating) Tyler Shields bought this lovely Victorian folding fan.
As legend would have it, the wealthy St. Nicholas of Turkey, in 300 AD, was the most selfless of philanthropists. He shied away from the spotlight, and secretly bestowed enough gold to one impoverished family to fund the doweries of their three unmarried girls. How did he get away with it? He either dropped it down the chimney, or flung it through an open window. Somehow, the gold landed in a stocking hung to dry over the fireplace. Thus, the Christmas stocking was born.
But just so you know, there's an offshoot explanation circulating out there, and it's more rooted in Northern Europe's connection to the New World, specifically New York.
Apparently, in the 17th-century Dutch colony then known as New Amsterdam, there
were certainly observations of Christ's birth—called Kerstydt—but, it was often overshadowed by a more popular December holiday: Sinterklaas, a Dutch gift-giving tradition where children sat their shoes outside their homes to be filled by a visiting St. Nicolas on December 6th. (Often, perhaps due to inclement weather, it made sense to have the shoes remain inside, and perhaps better still, to hang stockings near the fireplace.)
This particular insight comes to us from The Bowery Boys (a most diverting podcast about the history of New York City).
On the other hand, some people will tell you the practice goes back even further, to pre-Christian, Pagan times. Odin of the Norse pantheon had a horse, Sleipnir (white, eight-legged). Children would leave their boots by the chimney, stuffed with straw and perhaps a carrot for trusty old Sleipnir. When he took them, Odin would leave gifts in their place.
Whether St. Nick, or Odin, or whoever, leaving goodies in wooden clogs or stockings is fine with us—who doesn't love little presents?—but we at Lacis prefer stockings—mainly because they're often so beautifully handmade by our customers, if not family heirlooms that have been treasured for decades.
Here's a perfect example of stockings that promise to be a little bit of both. Remember our talented customer of the month from May's newsletter, Sarah Neal Simpson? We're happy to report that her heirloom needlework kits business, Spider-Spun, is flourishing! Her gorgeous handmade stocking kits are flying off the (virtual) shelves—especially the ski slopes design.
If there's a needlepoint embroiderer in your life—or someone looking to become one!— don't miss out on the opportunity to give them a present that'll keep them happily occupied for a good long time, and then be cherished year after year, for generations to come.
These beautiful new shawls just hit the shop floor just in time for the holidays!
We're carrying a new range of voile shawls with gorgeous Impressionist and bird prints, a select few of which you can see pictured above. They're $25, airy, and slightly sheer: perfect for layering, a style tactic especially suited to Bay Area weather. There are too many fantastic, visually appealing designs to show here—check them out when you next stop by the shop!
Protect your health and that of your community—or even just comply with your local mask mandates so you can go to the store!—while also honoring the memory of Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
These beautifully constructed, durable and machine-washable face masks were engineered and sewn by Lacis staff member, Peggy Johnston. They're $25 each; the outer material is tightly woven cotton fabric, and the inside layer is a softer breathable cotton. There's even an adjustable metal nose bridge to facilitate the most perfect, non-fogging fit.
This is the perfect stocking stuffer for aspiring lawyers—and civil and human rights advocates—and those of you who, like us, remain deeply inspired by the legendary, principled, courageous, disciplined, tireless fighter—RBG. Her memory is a blessing!
There were way too many amazing new books this month to try and fit all into one newsletter!
Check out these impressive, smart new titles!
The ties that bind...! Lacis friend Siobhan and her partner's hand-fasting ceremony (an ancient Pagan marriage custom) took place recently. Siobhan is a crafter of sundry talents: she repairs vintage apparel, spins fibers with a drop spindle—and now, thanks to this project, she is also handy with the lucet!
We first met Siobhan in early 2021, while the shelter-in-place order was in effect and Lacis was only open by appointment. We could tell how important the details of this project were to her because Siobhan returned to Lacis time and time again, committed to getting her handmade cord just right. As many of you already know, we have a plethora of thread here at Lacis to choose from—rayon, silk, cotton, nylon, etc.—and good thing too, because the strands were all intentionally selected and combined for this ritual. And the unique palette she built up was composed only after careful decisions had been made, because the colors of the composite strands were symbolically important to their union.
We are honored to have been able to help with securing the materials (not to mention the lucet tool in question) for this meaningful project. All we had to do was give Siobhan a brief demonstration with the deceptively simple device (in the world of handicrafts and textiles, the forked, hand-held lucet has been in play from time immemorial), and she soon became an adept, far surpassing our own lucetting talents.
If you read what kind of vows go along with this ceremony, you'll understand why the choices that went into the creation of this cord were so critical. It was a gorgeous, heartfelt, artistic expression of the couple's intangible bond. Congratulations to the two of them! It looks like it was a very special occasion and a beautiful day at the Maryland Renaissance Festival.
with Patrice Krems
Saturday, January 22, 2022 — 12:30 AM to 5 PM
$55 + $20 kit fee (payable to instructor)
You will be delighted watching these fanciful ruffled confections made out of French wired ombre ribbon bounce and twirl like whimsical ballerinas from the ends of the gimp stem. See the ribbon jump to life as you ruffle together the pleated ribbon and insert tiny balls of cotton and stamens to be nestled within each bloom.
These dainty delights are the perfect size to be used as a fob on the end of a delicate embroidery scissor or zipper pull. Create a cluster and wear them as a brooch or use them as fringe on any number of things. Shorten the gimp and they can be turned into delightful dangling earrings. There are endless ideas and uses for these fanciful fuchsias flowers.
Beginning Bobbin Lace
with Eva Gergely
Saturday, January 29, 2022 — 10 AM to 4 PM
$65 + $64 kit fee (-20% for students)
Bobbin lace is the classic lace of Western civilization, captivating virtually every culture since 1500 when it became a very necessary and expensive part of fashionable clothing.
Bobbin lacemaking is a multi-thread technique based on two basic motions working in a plaiting fashion using no more than four threads at a time. The threads, worked in the hands, require minimal eye acuteness, making it accessible to students of all ages.
This class will cover preparation of materials, the basic motions and the basic stitches and grounds based on these motions.
A St. Valentine's Day Tatted Heart
with Kevin Baum
Saturday, February 8, 2022 — 12:30 PM to 4 PM
Come celebrate Valentine's Day with this festive tatting class designed for past students of Kevin's Beginning Tatting Classes. Elevate your tatting skills to create an heirloom tatted Valentine!
Students will need to know the shuttle tatting basics: the double stitch, and how to create and connect rings and picots. Under Kevin's guidance, students will begin their Valentine Day's projects. Students will choose one from several hearts, from easy to advanced. Finishing and blocking your finished heart will be discussed.
Beginning Tambour: A Two-Session Workshop
with Zoya Parkansky
Saturday, February 19 & March 5, 2022— 10 AM to 4 PM
$150 + $50 material fee (plus tax)
The embroidery of Haute Couture has become one of today's most popular techniques. It is particularly suitable for bead and sequin work, fast to execute while encouraging freedom of design.
FIRST SESSION: After a brief history and examination of tambour work, you will be introduced to the tools, set up and use of the unique needle. By the end of the session you will be working with beads and sequins on organza fabric.
SECOND SESSION: Working on a selected design, perfecting technique, introduction to new stitches and developing design ideas.
Easy Lunardi Hats, 1780-1820
with Catherine Scholar
Saturday, February 26 — 12:30 AM to 4:30 PM
Stressed by straw? Bothered by buckram? Worry no more! Finish off your late 18th-century look with a fabulous and easy Lunardi Hat!
These hats were popular during the 1780s and 1790s. A variation called a Capote was worn during the Regency Era. Named after the first person to fly a hot air balloon in England, the Lunardi Hat consisted of a puffed crown over a straw or wire-frame brim.
Together we will make a simple and pretty version of the hat, which you can then trim to your heart's desire to make a confection wholly unique to you.
3-Petal Flower with Vintage Ruffled Edge
with Patrice Krems
Saturday, March 12 — 12:30 AM to 5 PM
$55 + $20 kit fee (payable to instructor)
Learn how to make this exquisite vintage 1920s-inspired, hand-gathered Ruffled Edge 3-Petal Flower with leaves and a bud using thread for the stamens. This dramatic and exquisite flower can transcend an ordinary garment with an over-the-top accessory or can be attached to a pillow, crazy quilt or any other project.
Continuation Bobbin Lace
with Eva Gergely
Saturday, March 26 — 10 AM to 4 PM
Designed for those who have already taken the Beginning Bobbin Lace class, as well as anyone else who is familiar with the basic motions and stitches of Bobbin Lace (Whole Stitch, Half Stitch, Linen Stitch). You will learn how to combine the various stitches and create simple patterns, motifs, grounds and spider stitches; as well as the basics of Torchon Lace and Idrija Lace, and how to use a crochet hook for basic joinings.
Clones Lace: Irish Crochet
with Máire Treanor
April 20—23, 2022 — 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
$300 for all 4 days (or $100/day with a $200 minimum)
Learn to make Irish crochet lace! Students just need to know how to chain stitch, single crochet, and double crochet. You'll learn how to make the sumptuous, wildly organic motifs that comprise gorgeous Clones lace: the small rose, the large wild rose, shamrock, vine leaves and grapes...
Máire Treanor completed her degree in Irish Studies at the University of Ulster, and was employed by Irish World as a development officer when she discovered the lace of Clones, Ireland (located in the Border Region). She's worked hard to revive the tradition since the late '80s, authoring the book Clones Lace: The Story and Patterns of an Irish Crochet (republished by Lacis in 2010) and teaching Irish crochet all over the world.
with Patrice Krems
Saturday, November 6, 2021
Continuation Bobbin Lace
with Eva Gergely
Saturday, November 13, 2021
Are you promoting an educational textile event,
and you'd like to see it posted in a future Lacis Newsletter?
Contact us, and let's see if we're a good fit!
• January 9, 2022:
This annual open house virtual event will include games and prizes. Newcomers are most welcome!
• December 19: Marian Powys: A Life In Lace with Elizabeth Kurella (whose books we carry: Guide to Lace and Linens, The Secrets of Real Lace, and Anybody Can Mend Lace and Linens.)
Lacemaking took Marian from her father's church garden in Victorian England to the roaring twenties in Manhattan, where customers at her lace shop included none other than the man who would assassinate Rasputin. A teacher of lacemaking, lace design, and the history of antique lace, she inspired generations...
Follow Elizabeth Kurella back through time on this remarkable lacemaker's journey, and be inspired yourself
• Januay 16, 2022: Veredas: Lacemaking in Northeastern Brazil with Ana Andrade, designer, researcher and entrepreneur fighting for social welfare and sustainability causes in the fashion and textile industry, and a graduate of Central Saint Martins
• January 22, 2022: Wool and Color with Helena Hernmarck. Hernmarck is a Swedish-born tapestry artist and weaver best known for her monumental tapestries designed for architectural settings. Her designs derive from sources ranging from photographs, to watercolors, to handwritten letters... In this presentation, Helena will illustrate the evolution of her signature weaving technique from her early days at art school in Sweden to the present
• December 1: A Journey Through 500 Years of Embroidered History with Dr. Jessica Grimm. Magnificent goldwork embroideries a millenia old are held in Bamberg, Germany; the early 16th-century saw mass-produced goldwork orphreys from the Netherlands. In between, Dr. Grimm explores spectacular examples of Stumpwork embroidery from Central Europe
• December 8: Dressing up: Costume in British portraits of the 18th century with Hugh Belsey. Costume can say much about the sitter and their aspirations and standing in the world... examine paintings from the 1700s, what the people in them are wearing, and what it all means with the longtime former curator of Gainsbourough's House
• December 15: Contemporary Art Embroidery with Jen Goodwin, who began as an apprentice in the RSN's apprenticeship program, and eventually found herself working on the wedding dress of the Duchess of Cambridge
The Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. We are a unique legacy museum located in Berkeley, California. We host a wide range of hands-on workshops, several galleries of rotating exhibits, and our Museum Shop carries an extensive supply of vintage goods, craft- and costume-related books, and needlework supplies.
Our purpose is to:
• Preserve lace and textiles of all cultures from all periods
• Provide a resource center for research and documentation of these objects
• Educate and disseminate knowledge of lace and textiles
For just $25.00, you can become an official, card-carrying Lacis Museum Member for a year—and enjoy exclusive benefits! Get your membership via our Etsy shop, or alternatively, contact us in a number of other ways to join this vitally important circle of Lacis friends. We thank you for your support!
• 10% discount at our Etsy shop for purchases over $50
• 20% off books purchased at the Lacis Museum shop
• Free museum admission for you and up to (4) guests
• Special invitation to show openings
• Class discounts
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The Lacis Museum of Lace & Textiles
2982 Adeline St.
Berkeley, CA 94703