Contents in This Month's Issue
Spring is here! Time for new beginnings. And appropriately, we're about to break ground on our long-awaited and much-anticipated elevator construction project, so pardon our dust while this is underway. Accessibility for all is coming soon!
And, crocheters, your time is running out to sign up for our amazing four-day Clones Irish Lace workshop! This is a class we've held for many years with Máire Treanor, an extraordinary educator who has made it her life's mission to revive, preserve, and disseminate the techniques of Irish crochet across the world. After this long hiatus due to the pandemic, we're very happy to resume them at last!
The piece shown to the left is by Máire herself! It's called "Irish Rose Garden," and it was exhibited in our 2005 exhibit, Irish Crochet: 150 Years of a Tradition.
If you're familiar with crochet, but unsure of what Irish crochet lace is, we invite you to take a look at our previous exhibit held on exactly that topic, back in 2005. Read about the moving history of this incredible tradition, and watch this slideshow showcasing some spectacular examples of the technique.
And here's another particularly good video for your further edification and watching pleasure: it's called Clondalkin's Tangible Threads: Irish Crochet in the World of Haute Couture. Perhaps you'll fall in love with Irish crochet lace, too!
Last month, we bid a fond farewell to Worn to Dance: 1920s Fashion & Beading and gave our final tours. We are gratified that so many of you enjoyed it so very much! Our visitors left glowing messages of gratitude and appreciation in the Guestbook, and here is just a few of them:
I'm so grateful for the opportunity to see this collection and hear the history! Thank you so much!
Thank you for sharing this beautiful collection!! Love the stories of the dresses. Thank you so much!
Peggy L. Calvert
The detail and care to preserve this is admirable. Thank you for taking the time to share you vast knowledge with us!!
Thanks for your generous tour of this fantastic collection. Your knowledge and enthusiasm is appreciated and catching.
N. Newman of Albany, NY
Wonderful getting a close up and personal look at these beaded dresses.
A wonderful look into fashion history!
J. Kristine Rubenis of Palo Alto
Thank you for stewarding such a beautiful collection and making it accessible!
Lea and Lee
Incredible collection, lovingly curated and fascinatingly informative. Thank you for sharing.
Deborah from Sunnyvale & London, UK
Absolutely stunning and a fabulous collection to interact with on such a personal level.
Becca of Oakland
Thank you so much for putting together an inspiring accumulation of fabulous dresses and techniques.
L. from DC
Wonderful. Clothing my grandmother wore. Thank you for your sparkling tour!
Elaine Hollman & Tom Kearny
Be sure to check out our Textile Arts Calendar this month. Excitingly, this includes the SFO Museum's unveiling of their long-awaited new exhibit, From Pineapple to Piña: A Philippine Textile Treasure. This will include some immaculately preserved items from Lacis's own 2017-2018 exhibit, Piña: The Phillipine Cloth of Pride, Endurance & Passion.
(Images from SFO Museum)
And in case you missed it, last month our manager, Kij Greenwood, was named the Fashion Guest of Honor at Clockwork Alchemy! Clockwork Alchemy is San Francisco's very own annual steampunk convention, dedicated to "celebrating alternative history, sci-fi, and fantasy." This year their theme was Marvelous Makers—a most appropriate one for our manager!
The steampunk-dedicated website Steampunk Explorer wrote an article covering the Fashion Show where many of her amazing creations were modelled on the catwalk. We were glad to be able to see them in all their glory! Check it out!
The Ukrainian Art of Pysanka
This Easter, it will be hard for us not to think about the people Ukraine. Decorated eggs are one of the oldest, most culturally significant of the traditional arts in Ukraine, full of potent symbolism. The fragility and persistence of life—the renewal and optimism of spring—those associations are obvious enough. But also, the eggs are protective talismans, with the power to ward off evildoing.
Pysanky (that's the plural) are typically prepared around Eastertime, although these gorgeous creations used to also be appropriate for other momentous occasions, such as birthdays and weddings.
Lacis friend Jai Waggoner shared with us this special story: "I've been in [to Lacis] a lot the last few days looking for materials for my Easter eggs." As you can see, Jai uses decorative trim, lace, sequins and beads, and this year, she's been favoring rayon rattail cording, particularly in the golden and bright blue colors of the Ukrainian flag.
"It seems every year around the beginning of Lent I am compelled to decorate eggs. I'm not religious, but about 50 years ago a friend took me to an ethnic crafts fair where I got my first bead and trim decorated egg." As the maker of the egg informed her, the tradition is from Ukraine. And—as you'll see—Jai has been making them ever since. And here you'll see some that she painted using the traditional Ukrainian wax-resist technique (batik, in other words).
You can catch a glimpse of some of Jai's bejeweled eggs this month in the window display at The 14 Karats on College Ave!
Curious to learn more about this Ukrainian tradition? Check out the links below...
• Pysanky: Dyeing to Celebrate Easter Associate Museum Librarian Dan Lipcan writes for the Met Museum Blog
• Victoria visits Pysanka Easter Egg Museum in Kolomyia, Ukraine and writes about it in her blog, Bois de Jasmin, "A Primer on Sensory Pursuits"
• A pysanka exhibit at the Ukrainian Museum in Cleveland, Ohio
• Atlas Obscura entry on the Pysanka Museum in Kolomyya, Ukraine
• A page about pysanky from the Ukrainian Museum of New York
This is the Pysanka Museum in Kolomyia, Western Ukraine!
Eve's "Rocky Road to Kansas" Quilt
We fell in love with Eve's beautiful, timeless quilt, and you will, too!
Lovely Eve exhibited an admirable spirit of resourcefulness when she constructed this scrap quilt.
She intentionally made it drawing entirely from her already-amassed stash of fabrics, with no new purchases. And for this reason, you can really see her personal aesthetic emerging: the quilt combines Japanese prints, Civil War-era reproduction prints... a hodgepodge of many wonderful traditions and styles are represented.
One of the more interesting names for this kind of block pattern, she recalls, is "Rocky Road to Kansas." If you're curious to try it yourself, there are plenty of good tutorials (with templates, of course) out there, plus spectacular examples to inspire you. So, if your own mountainous stash of fabrics is starting to get out of hand (you know who you are!) consider dipping into it at last, and get quilting!
Eve's been quilting for over 15 years! Check out her other quilts (and other art!) on Instagram: she's @EveSFCAquilts.
Minoo's Striped Sweater
We love it when our talented Lacis visitors are working on a project and show us a photo, or even bring in the project itself! Inspiration abounds in this place, and that's in no small part thanks to you. Read our Customer of the Month section for even more amazing work done by our Lacis friends.
Kind Minoo has been visiting Lacis since 1978. She was well acquainted with Kaethe, the original owner and founder, and reminisced with us about Kaethe's her formidable breadth of textile knowledge and no-nonsense approach to life.
She recalled when Kaethe was asked to speak at the nearby California College of the Arts (where some of our own former staff members have matriculated, and even teach)—back when Minoo herself was a student there. She considers certain spaces like LMLT—dedicated to the textile arts, perpetuating the cultural ... supporting its community—...to be sacred spaces.
And to us, that means so much, coming from Minoo, a great textile artist and teacher herself. Just look at this gorgeous sweater she knitted! It was her pandemic project: during lockdown, she decided she'd simply sit down with some DVDs and bide her time usefully. This creation came from no particular pattern, but was her own invention—and improvised beautifully, we must say. Look at the striping, the details at the neck, the flap over the chest, fastened down with some florals...! So lovely. And with that hat. We were just so happy to meet you, Minoo. You've known Lacis longer than the staff!! We welcome visitors, but sometimes, when they have a lengthy and intimate history with this place, it is our visitors who welcome us.
Detail from "6 Fighting Birds on a Buddhist Shawl" 
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.
For Katherine Bond of Berkeley, the exhibit was, in her words, "Spectacular!" She was "speechless at the display of time, quality, variety and geography of the works."
Visitor Virginia Davis was similarly floored, enthusing that it was "totally FABULOUS."
Paula and Rob Patterson, who came to visit all the way from Colorado, said that, "As birders, we so appreciated this exhibit. Thank you!"
Lacis Museum member Blair Van Tassel felt the same way: "Beyond amazing details," she agreed.
If you find you're still hankering for birds after a tour of our Bird in the Textile Arts exhibit, then be sure to take a look at these beauties, too.
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 that 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.
This past month, we happened to move some really beautiful white items that we thought deserved a nice, more ceremonious send-off, so we'll say farewell to them here, and wish them bon voyage to their new lives in new locales.
One particularly pretty French rhinestone bridal tiara returned to its place of origin. Well, sort of—we shipped it off to picturesque Saint-Mesmin, France, an area of predominantly forest, farmland, and chateaus in southwestern France. We hope it will adorn some happy bride there in a wedding ceremony!
But perhaps one of our favorite pieces of all was this delicate cotton organdy scarf. Lovingly made (and later, lovingly mended) at the turn of the last century, it had a dry, crisp hand, buttonhole stitch bridges, and was trimmed in handmade Princess Lace borders at each end. It had us simply swooning! But we're sure its new home in sunny Arizona is all the brighter and more beautiful for it...
And of course, we would be remiss if we didn't take this chance to also highlight some beauties still lingering in our shop. They're so special, surely they deserve their moment in the spotlight...!
From left to right, we have...
A stunning 1940s pleated peach crinkled silk chiffon cocktail dress. It comes with a satin ribbon belt, and was made in France for Lord and Taylor, one of America's most storied and luxurious department stores ever. Its shoulder areas are lined, it's replete with French seams, hand-rolled edges... all done by hand. And it's a medium (36" bust)!
Folks, vintage just doesn't get any better than this. It's a practically flawless specimen. Which is why it'll cost you $305, and be worth every precious penny.
Next up is this fabulous silk slip, which has remained in remarkably excellent condition for an antique from the 1910s. Even its cute point d'esprit netting is almost totally intact—there's just one area where the top edge of the netting is torn, but by happy chance, it's located at the back of the neck, so it isn't a terrible eyesore. In a lovely little touch, a line of hand-embroidered faggoting runs across the top edge and down the front placket.
And just so you don't get the wrong impression that all we're about is clothes, here's a summer-ready tablecloth and matching napkin set. It's pretty flawed—but if you can overlook its shortcomings, it's still pretty. All it needs is a little TLC (give it a wash, mend that hole, and it could be good as new)! It's a cotton jacquard damask set from the '60s with a brightly shining harvest gold border. It measures 68" by 51" and there are six napkins, perfect for hosting your friends for dinner.
Did you know that April 9th is National Unicorn Day?
Probably not—very few people do. That's okay, though. We're here to remedy that.
First, a few things about tapestries.
Generally speaking, in a secular context, tapestries in the medieval Europe were a textile commissioned by the nobility, and they were many things at once.
And of course, tapestries were works of extraordinary beauty, not to mention expense. They demanded a huge amount of cooperative effort to produce, effectively adding to their exclusivity. The more tapestries you had, the more wealth you were showing off.
Most medieval tapestries were produced in France and what is now the Netherlands/Belgium region.
There was a certain division of labor involved: the designer of the cartoon, or the full-scale, full-color pattern from which the image was reproduced on the loom, was a different artist from the weavers themselves.
This cartoon would have been passed on to the weaver, who would hang it behind their high-warp loom; or, if they were using a low-warp loom, they would cut the image into strips and place them under the warp threads. (On a low-warp loom, the image would need to be backward, since they're working from the back of the tapestry.)
Tapestry-weaving were not only notoriously labor-intensive, they were a time-consuming enterprise. If one square yard of coarse tapestry could take a month to produce, imagine how long it would take to churn out a square yard of the fine, detailed stuff like the Unicorn tapestries!
Unicorn tapestries, though...
When someone mentions a famous medieval unicorn tapestry, they could be referring to one many! There are a few really iconic ones, and they're grouped into two "series." And—other than the Bayeux tapestry, which boasts an embroidered image, not a woven one—these unicorn tapestries are probably the most famous tapestries in the world. Read on...
Don't forget, Lacis Museum Members receive 20% off of books purchased in our Museum shop
"This handsomely illustrated, anecdotal volume illuminates the symbiotic relationship between late-19th-century Parisian fashion houses and their well-to-do American clients. Block, a senior editor for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's publication department, writes winningly."
—Michael Dirda, Book Critic, The Washington Post
We at Lacis are very excited to read this book! Watch this virtual public program on the book on YouTube, and don't miss this in-depth upcoming conversation with Block, presented by the George Washington University Textile Museum (it's on April 8th and you have to register for it in advance!)
"For every skill level and body type, 20 chic designs for everyday wear." Indie knit designer Janine Myska hails from Canada, where they know about cold—and cozy.
Begin your brioche adventure! No, we're not talking about the bread. Brioche knitting is a style of knitting that relies on tucked and slipped stitches, and yarnovers to create ribbing and a thick, spongey "give" to your knitted creations. It's the perfect technique for creating warm, cozy accessories, or even wash-cloths and blankets. You can create eyecatching, almost graphic designs! Lesley Anne Robinson, creator of Knit Graffiti, brings you this guide to brioche "texture and color for beginner and beyond."
"Here's my first book!" writes Kristin Drysdale on her website. "Do you love the timeless look of Scandinavian knitting? Have you ever wanted to create your own colorful Nordic sweaters, hats, mittens and accessories? I lovingly designed and wrote The Nordic Knitting Primer to help you learn how." Here's her friendly handbook to guide you through the preliminaries and the nuances of the techniques of Scandinavian colorwork.
Our talented visitors are always making the most interesting & beautiful things.
We love it when you share your creations & their stories with us!
No question: Ruth Tabancay is far and away one of our favorite-ever embroiderers. We are so overjoyed when she visits and shows us what she's been working on. We first fell in love with her work that depicted bacteria growing in petri dishes. They were so organic, so real... and she made so many of them, each one so unique!
And then she made an incredible thumbnail-sized self-portrait, derived from a monochrome photograph, but entirely comprised of French knots — solely in varying shades of gray. Reader, believe us when we say, we were astonished.
Ruth's textile work is consistently, utterly beautiful: detailed, pristine, and profound. Her concepts are brilliant, often grounded in science, and for good reason: she was for many years a medical technologist, her BA from UC Berkeley was in Bacteriology, and she's spent many years studying life under a microscope.
We have long been eager to feature Ruth as our Customer of the Month. But we knew we had to save her for April, the month of celebrating the Earth, and rededicating ourselves to protecting the environment and all the precious life forms in it...
...Because Ruth's latest works have involved embroidering on plastics, creating forms representing those intrepid bacteria and fungi that are developing a taste for our petrochemical-byproduct-derived waste. (And you should definitely check out her breathtaking quilting work with recycled tea bags!)
Not only that, but she's been embroidering PPE masks that have become so ubiquitous over the last few years, showing the spores that normally are invisible to the naked eye. (See below.) Look familiar? That's because it's the same green fungus that grows on bread when you leave it out too long!
We encourage you to peruse the rest of Ruth's artistic portfolio at your leisure. She's not only an artistically and intellectually brilliant human being — recognized, renown, distinguished and accomplished — but she is unfailingly kind, and her love for this blessed green planet and the precious miracles of nature, and life, and her humanity are self-evident through these works.
Ruth, you are a continual inspiration to us. Our textile crafting community is the richer for having you in it. Thank you, as always, for visiting Lacis.
We aren't alone in this. Other people love Ruth, too, and you can read all about it online...
with Kevin Baum
Saturday, April 2, 2022 — 12:30 to 4:00 PM
This class concentrates on the double stitch, which all shuttle tatting is based on. Once this first step has been mastered, we will learn to make rings and picots, and then how to connect rings through picots. The goal of these classes is to create, with practice, a simple edging of connected rings and picots.
The Pocket: An Essential & Practical Historic Accessory
with Catherine Scholar
Saturday, April 9, 2022 — 12:30 to 4:30 PM
Before the 19th century, a woman's pocket was a separate accessory item, not a feature built into a skirt. Women carried their personal necessities in these pockets which were tied around the waist, including items like keys, thimbles, handkerchiefs, spectacles and coins. It was bit like a fanny pack or money belt today.
In this class we will hand-sew our very own pockets, to use with costumes or just for everyday practical fun. Appropriate period embellishments will be discussed. This class is perfect for both people new to hand-sewing as well for those with more experience.
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...
Beginning Bobbin Lace
with Eva Gergely
Saturday, April 30 — 10 AM to 4 PM
$65 + $64 bobbin lace kit (less 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 lace making 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.
Continuation Bobbin Lace
with Eva Gergely
Saturday, May 7 — 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.
Hey, lovely lace-makers! Did you know the Doily Free Zone is offering TEN scholarships for students currently enrolled in tertiary courses of: Art, Fashion, Textile & Industrial Design, Architecture, Engineering and Mathematics? One scholarship will be given every month until the symposium in June 2022. Winners get to attend the DFZ 2022 Symposium AND lifetime access to all the Lace Camp workshops!
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
Back to the top
The Lacis Museum of Lace & Textiles
2982 Adeline St.
Berkeley, CA 94703