Contents in This Month's Issue
Summer is upon us, and progress on our elevator construction project marches on—onward and upward!
A few minor hiccups and delays here and there arose, to be sure, but given that this building is a centenarian one, we expected as much. Our ultimate reward will be a vastly improved second-story classroom and exhibition space, more spacious and widely accessible for all, and for that, we are very grateful.
Speaking of forward movement, we are in the planning stages of our next exhibition! We've begun scouring through our permanent collection (the pictures you see below are just the tip of the iceberg) for relevant items. We won't go into too much detail here, but our working title for the moment is "Day's End," and you can anticipate seeing lots of sumptuous loungewear, nighties, and pajamas.
This month, we're going to host a full schedule classes—with something happening every weekend!—and there are some exciting events coming up on our Textile Arts Calendar. And please note, friends, we'll be closed on Monday, July 4, in observance of Independence Day. In honor of the momentous occasion, we are having a sale on select items in our Etsy shop. You have only a few more days to take advantage of it—don't miss out!
Lacis friend Kendra Yoshinaga embroidered this divinely delicious-looking hotdog just in time for the 4th of July holiday! The halo is a stem stitch, the bun, a detached buttonhole stitch, and the ketchup zigzag is a whipped back-stitch. You should follow her embroidery adventures on Instagram—she's @kendra.stitches.
Figurative Needle Lace Donation
Donor Rod Becker understands that these pieces "were probably created by great-aunts, possibly great-great-aunts, of the Moore family at the turn of the 20th century, so late 1890s or early 1900s, perhaps as wedding gifts. These aunts lived in the Washington, DC area... The items have probably been in storage for over 100 years."
We thank him for his generous contribution to our museum, as well as this bit of provenance. These extraordinary examples of needle lace (see also this interesting piece, with its rather adorable, if ambiguous, creature in the center) are now part of the permanent collection. As our curator noted, they are "wonderful examples of 19th c. needlework."
In works such as these, a single needle and thread is used to create the motifs. The technique can be traced back to the earliest modern laces of the 16th century, when the simple looped stitch was used to create decorative designs within planned holes on woven fabric. Later released from this base fabric, needle lace took on the name of Punto d'Aria ("Points in the Air"), allowing designs unlimited freedom of direction and introducing a level of intricacy that was previously unimaginable.
In this highly detailed pairing, we see themes both classical/pagan and Biblical. A grape-laden Bacchus is shown with two cherubic attendants, one of whom appears to be carrying his thyrsus (left), and the head of St. John the Baptist rests on a platter while King Herod watches Salome perform the Dance of the Seven Veils (right).
Sabrina Glazebrook's Imagined Topographies
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.
Sabrina came to Lacis looking to supplement her supply of embroidery floss, and she had with her this very charming piece in its hoop. Cool as it looks, she says it's still a work in progress—one in a series of four, in fact. She intends to hang them in her kitchen, all in a row, each one representing the same geographic area in a different season of the year. It's not a real place, as detailed and convincing as it might be: no, for this, she consulted the atlas of her imagination.
The glacial tundra on the left (accomplished using an exaggerated satin stitch) effects a smoothness that contrasts nicely with the turbulent flow of her river (done with what looks like a stem stitch done in two colors...) The base material is a thick green wool felt, and the embroidery floss is DMC 6-strand cotton.
Alita Henderson's High Tea Fascinator
Dear Alita! Thank you so much for sharing your completed project with us... we were so glad to assist with your fabulous fascinator. That pleated horsehair trim was the perfect icing on the cake. Your entire ensemble looked so perfect for your high tea event, and looks highly compatible with all the decor and vibes! Creatively yours, the Lacis Team!
Sherry Knutson's Embroidered Collage Jeans
Brilliant and creative Sherry Knutson, founded of More Love Love More, came to visit Lacis for some materials to incorporate into her wearable art pieces. She is drawn toward vintage feed sacks, embroidered household linens, and old quilts, and turns these items into garments, which we adore. But that's not all...! Sherry also has an embroidery machine. See those patches that look like luggage labels? She scanned the labels and reproduced them with this magnificent machine.
"Recently, I have introduced digital embroidery to my practice. The process includes scanning my original drawings into the embroidery machine which mirrors the activity of tattooing, a 'forgotten American folk art.' The needle moves through the fabric, distributing thread rather than ink..."
We're enthralled by your style, Sherry! Keep up the good work, and thank you so much for breathing life back into these old pieces.
If you like her style too, don't forget to follow Sherry on Instagram: she's the designer behind @morelovelovemore_.
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.
In June, we sent this fragile silk and cotton beauty to Texas. It's an Edwardian dress too damaged for wearing, but perfect for a skilled dressmaker to copy or a historical costumer to study.
Already partially dismantled, it featured a combination of hand and machine stitching, and was replete with metal hook and eye closures, both on an inner fabric waist belt and up the back. The neck stood up with half a dozen thread-covered wires (called, delightfully, "squigglebones," among the costuming and vintage clothing crowd), and the machine embroidery is also beautiful, with rows of cotton covered cording at armholes and cuffs.
The entire confection was composed of stiff, sheer silk organza, with tiers of embroidered leaf scallop edges and a pink tissue silk lining and skirt. Details in green and yellow thread added a touch of color to complement the pink underskirt.
Whoever wore this dress a hundred years ago must have looked very sweet in it. For more gems like this one, visit our Etsy shop. For the next few days, until the 4th of July, many of our items are 15% off. Your dream study piece awaits you.
The Madeira work the Lacis staff has seen has always been in lovely shades of blue and white, like this 1940s table set that combines white embroidery with very fine drawnwork.
In the North Atlantic Ocean, off the coasts of Africa and Portugal, lies an archipelago of islands of stunning natural beauty, teeming with fish and lush subtropical forests. The Portuguese began to settle on this land, which they called Madeira, in the 1400s. In addition to its wine, it is famous for its embroidery.
We bring this up not only because July 1 is Madeira Day (on this day in 1976, the Portuguese government granted self-rule to the islands), but because some of the prettiest items in our vintage table linens are striking examples of Madeira drawnwork and shadow applique.
Here's an example of shadow work, a kind of applique where the delicate cut-out shapes are just faintly visible on the other side of the cotton organdy. It permits only the tiniest, most precise hand-stitching. Note the tag that reads "Madeira."
It is said that in the 1860s, the daughter of a wine merchant named Elizabeth Phelps noticed Phyloxera destroying the local grape harvest. Drawing upon her overseas connections, she encouraged the transition to a cottage industry of embroidery, and sold the work of Madeiran artisans to the English. (And it is to this day a true cottage industry: the bulk of the decorative work is done at home, with inspections and the finishing touches taking place in the factories of Funchal.) Thus, Madeira embroidery began to become ubiquitous in Victorian parlors.
One of the most famous pieces of the Imperial Linens Company—a producer of Madeira linens starting in 1925—was a tablecloth that belonged to Princess Grace Kelly.
If you ever find yourself in Funchal, Madeira, be sure to pay a visit to the Instituto do Vinho, Bordado e Artesanato da Madeira—that is, the Madeira Institute of Wine, Embroidery and Handicrafts. They have a museum where you can see the most spectacular examples of Madeiran textile handiwork.
Don't forget, Lacis Museum Members receive 20% off of books purchased in our Museum shop
This is a must-have for aspiring and professional milliners—and hat lovers. A fabulously designed and well-thought-out book—each hat in it is a revelation in style and taste. The explicitness of the text, not to mention the in-depth instructions and photographs, is an achievement in itself.
The projects in this book are too cute to be believed: it opens with Cthulhu, Nessie, and Mothman, and ends with a Harpy, a one-eyed (one-horned, flying, purple) people-eater, and a gargoyle... A little something for every paranormal-loving nerd under the sun. The pictures are appealing and the directions are very clear! You will want to make all of the creatures, we promise.
Redthreaded said everything that needs to be said about this book a week ago, frankly. It's a brand-new book, the latest in a really well-loved series, so if you need it to complete your collection, you can find it at Lacis.
The precious motifs pictured (right) were all made between 2020-2021 in the US and Armenia by poet, weaver, scholar, and singer Elise Youssoufian. Made of perle or cordonnet cotton thread, they each only measure a few inches wide.
Remarkably, Elise has only 3 years' experience in this craft (and recently took up Armenian carpet-weaving). Just before the global pandemic began, Elise went on pilgrimage to reconnect with her ancestral places in Turkey and Armenia—and that's where she was honored to be instructed in the art of Armenian needle lace. The Armenians she met with there were astonished when she made clear her longing to learn the craft of her grandmothers (for what would a modern American-Armenian care for such things?)—and were even more astonished when she soon began to manifest an obvious innate talent for it.
It must have been something that was latent but still coursing resolutely through Elise's blood, the blood of her people and memories of their land and cultural practices, their millennia-old traditional handicrafts. For within the designs of these pieces, you can see motifs that are referred to as hills and mountains, trees, etc., and it is Elise's fervent dream to "return to her grandmother mountain beside the Mediterranean Sea."
As the granddaughter of displaced genocide survivors and the child of orphaned immigrants, Elise describes making Armenian lace as nothing less than a vital spiritual practice. Not only does it keep her grounded during the tumult of the pandemic and other existential crises worldwide, it gives her a tangible sense of continuity with her culture, at risk under historic and ongoing threats of total erasure in the wake of war and occupation. For her, it is an act of resistance, of solidarity, of love. The art itself has ancient roots, many millennia old. In the region the patterns are found on Armenian wood and stone carvings, and ceramics; they form "a net of protection intended to beguile, entrap and confuse evil spirits and intentions."
Appropriate, as creating needle lace became Elise's strategy for enduring the stressors of recent years—her method of promoting internal and external peace. To that end, she remains mindful when she is building these pieces (not in times of anger, for example)... and keeps her handiwork close during Zoom meetings, etc. (The benefit of the craft is its discrete compactness and portability: you can take it with you anywhere, and literally all you need is a needle and thread.)
Elise is a student at the California Institute of Integral Studies working on a PhD in Philosophy & Religion with a Concentration in Women's Spirituality; she is also a columnist for the Armenian Weekly. Read her work for a glimpse into her world, or follow her on Instagram: she's @eliseweaves. Elise is also the creator of Sound of Ten Thousand Stones, "an Armenian-led arts initiative sparking creation in response to cultural destruction."
1920s "One Hour Dress": A 2-Session Workshop
with Catherine Scholar
Saturday, July 9 & 16, 2022 — 10 AM to 5 PM
Want to clothe your inner flapper? Get your Downton on? Perhaps you just want to experience the ultimate chic of simplicity. The One-Hour dress was developed in 1923 by Mary Brooks Picken as a simple and versatile style that can be made into a tailored wool day dress, a breezy cotton summer frock, or a dramatic silk evening gown.
On day one, we will review the style and look at extant and reproduction gowns in the same style. You will then draft a pattern of yourself, make mockups, and then adjust carefully to perfect the fit. On the second day, you will make your dress.
Art Deco Clam-Shell Fan
with Lynn McMasters
Saturday, July 23, 2022 — 10 AM to 5 PM
$45 + $40 kit fee (payable to instructor)
A fan can combine functionality and frivolity as a device that can keep you cool as well as accent an ensemble. In this class, you will learn to construct an Art Deco period fan that would be the perfect accessory to complement your outfit for the Gatsby Summer Afternoon or the premiere of the new Downton Abbey movie.
This workshop will take you from preparing the hardwood sticks, adding some surface decoration, practicing with a blank paper, folding the leaf, to gluing the leaf on the sticks. Students will have a choice of three different fan leaves each a reproduction of a 1911-23 art print. Students will be instructed how to choose once registration is confirmed.
with Patrice Krems
Saturday, July 30 — 12:30 PM to 5 PM
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.
A Regency Circular Reticule
with Catherine Scholar
Saturday, August 6, 2022 — 12:30 PM to 4:30 PM
One of the hallmarks of early 19th-century accessories was the plethora of chic and innovative handbags, called reticules. The circular style, involving a central round medallion surrounded by a gathered strip of fabric, is especially attractive and practical. Following period instructions, we will hand-sew our own circular reticules. Feel free to embellish your circular medallions before class: you will need two 4" circles PLUS 1/2" seam allowance all the way around.
with Kevin Baum
Saturday, August 13, 2022 — 12:30 PM to 4 PM
Have you admired tatting and wondered if you could be able to tat? Only a few stitches need to be mastered in order to create beautiful tatted works of art. This beginner classes will get you on track for shuttle tatting by teaching you the tools and technique.
You will concentrate on learning the double stitch, which all shuttle tatting is based on. Once the double stitch has been mastered, will learn to make rings and picots. The goal of these classes is to create, with practice, a simple edging of connected rings and picots.
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