Contents in This Month's Issue
Isn't it interesting how adjacent and overlapping communities within our Bay Area region can generate a dynamic, self-propelling synergy between them? It must be the zeitgeist.
Just look at the constellation of Art Deco-related events in our immediate future. On June 12, many of our fellow costumers and vintage-lovers will be enjoying Daisy's Dinner Dance, hosted by the Art Deco Society of California and the Elks Lodge of San Rafael. For two Saturdays in July, the 9th and the 16th, we'll be having our 1920s "One Hour Dress" class with brilliant instructor Catherine Scholar. And on Saturday, July 23rd, we'll follow that up with the inimitable Lynn McMaster's Art Deco Clam-Shell Fan workshop!
LEFT: We have a genuine "One-Hour Dress" from the '20s on display now at Lacis's main entrance! ABOVE: Make one in our 2-day workshop and wear it to the ADSC's new Daisy's Dinner Dance event! RIGHT: And while you're at it, why not take Lynn McMaster's Art Deco Clam-Shell Fan class, too?
To adorn your Art Deco dresses and accessories, you'll need some period-appropriate floral decorations, of course.
And just in time for that, Patrice Krems, our resident queen of the floral ribbon arts, will be teaching us how to make these adorable Pleated Fuchsias on Saturday, July 30! Color-coordinate them with your One-Hour Dresses and Art Deco Clam-Shell fans to complete your 1920s vibe.
This past month, the Diablo Valley Civic Arts League — an energetic and congenial group of approximately forty arts- and civic-minded women — took special field trip (and a double-decker bus!) to Berkeley and enjoyed tours of Museum Curator and Director Jules Kliot's very own The Bird of the Textile Arts exhibit. We loved having them! It was such an exciting and invigorating day for us! And, as only the most considerate and appreciative of visitors do, they sent us this kind message afterward:
Thank you for the very informative tour of your exhibit, The Bird in the Textile Arts. I was amazed at the detail of the stitches on the fabrics that were on the display. The stitches were so very tiny. I can only imagine how much time and labor went into the design of these beautiful pieces. I still can't get over the sheer cloth made from pineapple!
You are truly blessed with the wonderful love of this unusual display of art through embroidery. I can't thank you enough for making our May bus trip so successful. The ladies really enjoyed the day and checking out the Lacis store. It is a treasure.
President of the Civic Arts League
LMLT Curator Jules Kliot, The Hinabi Project, and AAPI@SFO Tour New Piña Exhibit
As readers of our newsletter will know, the SFO Museum recently unveiled a gorgeous new fashion- and textiles-related exhibit called From Pineapple to Piña: A Philippine Textile Treasure in their Harvey Milk Terminal 1. On May 24, 2022, a special group of SFO employees belonging to AAPI@SFO were treated to a lecture by none other than LMLT director, Jules Kliot.
Jules was able to regale the tour attendees with his personal knowledge and passion regarding this beautiful and highly labor-intensive textile. After all, many of the pieces exhibited are on loan from the permanent collection of the Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles. You might remember them from the LMLT's own 2017-2018 exhibition, Piña: The Philippine Cloth of Pride, Endurance & Passion.
Representatives from The Hinabi Project were also on hand as well for this presentation. Their organization is an inspirational and ambitious trans-Pacific endeavor, dedicated to the promotion, preservation, and practice of the Philippine/American weaving arts in natural fiber. We urge you to check out the work they do. The Hinabi Project hopes to increase awareness towards preserving this important tradition and intangible cultural heritage through exhibitions, lectures, and workshops on Philippine textiles.
This tour, generously sponsored by the AAPI@SFO, was the culmination of the AAPI Heritage Month Celebration at SFO. AAPI@SFO seeks to empower employees of Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander descent. The purpose of AAPI@SFO is to create and preserve an inclusive space to build and strengthen Pan Asian/Pacific Islander identities and to advocate for the diverse needs of SFO's AAPI employees.
Celebrating one of the Philippines' great handmade, artisanal treasures, piña cloth, this exhibit is only available to view for those who are taking a plane ride. (It's past the TSA security checkpoint, alas!) However, if you should find yourself at the SFO Airport anytime soon, the Harvey Milk Terminal 1 is in Departures Level 2—just FYI! If you're lucky enough to be taking a trip, you definitely don't want to miss this!
Congratulations, Nan and Marisa! Kudos on your fabulous ensembles. You both looked absolutely fantastic!
Sewists and vintage fashion aficionados, you will be pleased to read that Marisa Firebaugh (pictured here in the most perfect amber-yellow sunglasses) sewed her own dress from a vintage pattern using tropical print fabrics, sourced from our local Discount Fabrics outlet! She's a Seattle-based model with a penchant for vintage glamour and was the winner of the Grand Prize.
Nan Turner, bonafide fashion expert and educator, on the left, was the runner-up and is wearing a 1950s sunsuit. She wore a dress of coordinating fabric—which she removed on stage to reveal this darling sunsuit!
As you can see here, among the prizes supplied from Lacis were a pair of free Annual Memberships. We hope our new honorary members Nan and Marisa take full advantage of their discounts—in our Etsy shop, for our workshops, and in our book department—and come to visit us soon!
Penny Peter's Woven Silk Shoulder Bags
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. And this month, in addition to so much amazing work done by our Lacis friends, we'll also shine the spotlight a former Lacis staff member (see: Lacemaker of the Month, Amy Keefer).
Penny Peters came in the other day looking for a shoulder-strap solution for these low-profile shoulder bags she'd sewn up. We found the one we saw to be a remarkably attractive creation, but what we didn't realize at the time was that she had actually woven the fabric herself! Just look at those intricate patterns...!
In fact, the intensely red and blue silk threads actually came to Penny via her weaving teacher. And the burgundy rayon rope and paracord (see the bag furthest to the left—she braided it) came from Lacis, we're very happy to report! These are going on display in a gallery with her CNCH (Northern California handweaving and spinning) guild, at their 2022 Conference, "Spring: Creative Resilience" in San Mateo.
Congratulations, Penny — these are just gorgeous and will look so well on display together. Your weaving teacher will be so proud, and your fellow guild members will be so inspired!
Kim Condoulis's Miniature Amigurumi Characters
By day, Kim Condoulis is a high-powered tax attorney in Boston—but by night, she's an unrepentant crochet enthusiast!
Kim has a deep love for all things Disney, and for these adorable amigurumi-style renditions of Chip and Dale, she ingeniously used a standard crochet pattern and simply scaled it down. Kim relies on a tiny .6mm crochet hook from Clover for this kind of work, and instead of yarn, uses the tiniest of threads. Thanks for sharing your fantastic creations with us, Kim!
Our lovely visitor Seraphina — poet, banjo player, San Francisco Art Institute alumni, daughter of a Hunters Point Shipyard Artist (Seraphina's father has been part of that community for over 20 years as a painter!)—began their project with an ordinary, oversized brown tee-shirt. "It's an old shirt I've had since high school," Seraphina explained. "I tend to keep a lot of my old clothes, and felt the need to revamp this one so that I'd be inspired to wear it again."
The first step was to remove its sleeves and lower hem to transform it into something closer to a breezy crop top. The second was to sew on this central panel in front. It bears an original poem, composed by Seraphina in memory of a beloved friend, and exquisitely hand-lettered with an exceptionally fine Micron pen—a true labor of love.
"Yes, I knew that girl
yes. I knew her world
so much unspoken
such a private, personal transformation
bear witness, a timeless,
with no enemies,
just a fantasy parade
and enigmatic concrete laid."
The panel is bordered by mint-colored yarn tied into six adorable double-bows... the mint and brown go so well together, particularly taken with the palette of their ensemble that day, not to mention with that wonderful blackish-purplish succulent they were carrying around, so earthy and rich. (It makes even more sense when Seraphina mentions they're drawn to '60s-'80s color schemes...!)
Seraphina's been journaling for as long as they can remember, which would explain why their handwriting is such a gorgeous treat. Seraphina also makes "a lot of clothes with text, either written by hand or with a typewriter. I love putting fabric into my typewriter and just writing stream of consciousness poetry. So you could say it's part of a series of handmade clothes I'm making... I upcycle lots of old clothes but I mostly make unique garments out of vintage doilies, embroidered handkerchiefs and cloths, patchwork/quilted clothes, and am always experimenting!"
Many thanks to you, Seraphina, for sharing your work with us! We love your style and are inspired by your transformative creative treatment of what would otherwise be an unassuming old shirt.
Check out their work on Instagram—Seraphina's got a photographer's nuanced eye for capturing the understated magic of the world. They're @seraphimfairy.
And Seraphina's not the only visitor who's come in lately in a self-made top. Look at these two fabulous customers:
Erica not only sewed this 100% linen shirt, but she also embroidered these astonishingly detailed portraits of her two cats on the sleeves! It's the best thing we've ever seen since Monday!
Juli made this incredibly cute, 100% reversible blouse out of vintage, hand-embroidered napkins, tablecloths, runners, etc.! How resourceful—and adorable—is that?
We hope this inspires you all to keep infusing new life into old things, or to utterly transform them, or to even make new things wholly from scratch!
Making, mending, repurposing... As Seraphina, Erica, Juli, and so many of our visitors every day all prove, these aren't just mindful, resourceful, frugal acts—but courageous acts. Acts of creativity and compassion: towards our environment, the items themselves, the hands that originally made them... and it's an opportunity to celebrate one's individual style and skill. To make something unique! We love to see it.
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.
We sold an array of remarkable items this past month in our Etsy shop! A few sweet pieces of lingerie, some very appealing (red corduroy!) Hungarian slides with folksy floral embroidery on them... and we were pleased to send these black leather sandal heels to Spain, where people really know about quality shoes—not only how to spot them, but how to make them, too. It speaks volumes when a resident of Spain purchases a vintage pair of shoes from across the Pacific Ocean!
And Maura, who bought the amazing tweed sailor-style pants shown right, said that they "did not take long to arrive at all! All in pristine condition and wrapped up lovingly—great experience with the shop and great communication. Thank you!"
Thank you, Maura, for taking the time to leave your review! We go to great lengths to provide the best possible customer service, and your feedback is deeply appreciated.
Sometimes the simplest of garments and accessories are the most enchanting.
This child-size Edwardian lace collar is composed of alternating stripes of cotton machine-made Chantilly lace insertion and rayon. Its motifs of flowers and leaves is rather adorable.
We know that antique children's items in slightly damaged condition are sometimes overlooked entirely (see the little rust stains on the upper edge?), but we thought it would be nice to bring some attention to this sweet, too-long neglected thing.
We believe in you, little Edwardian collar...! Someone will want to bring you home one day.
It would seem that June is the perfect month to touch upon the topics of the traditional graduation ensemble of a black gown and mortarboard cap with tassels.
An ankle-length black gown in academic settings goes all the way back to medieval times. At Oxford (founded—in legend—in 872; founded in fact in the 1100s) and Cambridge (1209), academic and clerical persons would don an overgarment that would keep a scholar warm while they were sitting and studying for long periods of time.
These were much nicer than the polyester "souvenir"-grade garments graduates typically are made to rent and wear nowadays: see this Hans Holbein painting of Erasmus of Rotterdam in a furry version! We'd love to be wearing that in the dead of winter while scribbling away in a library.
As far as the mortarboard hat goes, it's called that because it looks just like what a brickmason uses to spread his mortar upon—like a painter's palette. (Minus the tassel on top and the skull-cap part on the bottom, of course.)
Its shape may owe its origins to the clerical biretta—a hat that delightfully combines a strict, geometric shape with a pillowy poofiness and a perfect pompom. According to Wikipedia, "The biretta itself may have been a development of the Roman pileus quadratus, a type of skullcap with superposed square and tump (meaning small mound)." How perfect is the word "tump" to describe that shape??
Shown above in her own mortarboard hat and gown is Georgiana Rose Simpson (1865-1944), "a philologist and the first African-American woman to receive a PhD in the United States. Simpson received her doctoral degree in German from the University of Chicago in 1921."
To learn about the significance of the tassel that adorns the mortarboard hat, read about it here.
As the surprising expanse of shelf space devoted exclusively to passementerie attests to in our book department, tassels are actually an enormously fascinating subject matter all to themselves, and that's a rabbit hole we just don't have the bandwidth to address today!
Speaking of caps and gowns, we had a very special visitor this past month: Boyce Buchanan had just literally graduated that very afternoon with a degree in English, Journalism and International studies from Cal, and her wish was to come to Lacis to celebrate with her mom! They spent a lovely afternoon poring over our vintage textile treasures. (The incredible purple 1960s hat from Vienna went home with her!)
Thank you both for coming. Congratulations and best of luck to you, Boyce—we know you're going to do great things in the world, and we're so honored that you chose a visit to Lacis as your first thing to do as an official college graduate!
Don't forget, Lacis Museum Members receive 20% off of books purchased in our Museum shop
"As people learn the environmental and economic toll of fast fashion, they are turning toward more sustainable fashion practices like mending. From running and herringbone stitches to basting, pleats and buttonholes, Bernadette breaks down techniques with step-by-step photos to show people with any level of sewing skill how to achieve the most lasting results for every stitch.
"Whether readers are looking to build and maintain a vintage wardrobe or merely want to phase out fast fashion in favor of more sustainable practices, Bernadette has the basics covered for every kind of seamster."
If you happen to be interested in historical costuming and sewing and aren't already fans of Bernadette Banner, check out her YouTube channel immediately. Her videos are so much fun—sew educational, too.
Representation matters. When children unaccustomed to seeing depictions of themselves begin encountering—and inventing!—stories featuring protagonists who look like them, it's a thrilling, empowering experience. This important new book shows makers tangible techniques to reflect, through gorgeous crocheted dolls with natural hairdos, their unique beauty and heritage back to them. What a gift such a doll would make for a kid...! Show them how much their individual agency, their voice, their role in games, in make-believe, in your life—really counts. And—so crucially for little ones—give them the sense that they have a stake not only in play and pretend, but in shaping our society's future. Included among the beautiful crochet doll patterns are patterns for making a scientist, a soccer player, a ballerina... the possibilities are endless.
From Denmark, Vivian Høxbro has accomplished so much in the dissemination of "Domino" knitting around the world! And, when we used our in-browser translator to read her website, we found the word given for knitting patterns was "recipe"—that's just perfect. The "modular" design elements include everything stripes to squares, circles to shells... Once you get acquainted with these building blocks, you'll be tempted to try all the wonderful "recipes" in Høxbro's new Handbook!
Our former staff members have often gone on to innovate and leave their remarkable, unique mark on the textile art world. We love it when we get a chance to reconnect and catch up with them!
Amy Keefer used to work at Lacis, and considers it to have been a formative experience. She's since gone on to do so much amazing work in lace... and her deeply personal artistic goals and concepts are full of intimacy, yet also searing social commentary.
This past month, she gave a digital lecture for the Doily Free Zone symposium that we keep mentioning in our Textile Arts Calendar. She reached out to us in May for permission to use a photo of Lacis in her talk. "I wanted to share Lacis as a resource for participants," she said. "Lacis has been an important part of my textile education and journey!"
Shown here are two pieces from Amy's "Local Lace" series.
The first, a Capsaicin (Pepper Spray) lace collar, was accomplished using traditional Irish crochet techniques with a uniquely Keeferian twist, in 2017. (The pattern for the capsaicin blossoms is her own invention.) The threads are made of Pima cotton grown at Vreseis farm by Sally Fox in the Capay Valley, CA. Of this piece, she writes:
Irish crochet lace is deeply tied to botanical representation, and with this in mind I began to research floriography, a cryptological communication through the use or arrangement of flowers.
I designed the floral motif for this piece based on the family of plants that contain Capsaicin, the chemical found in hot chili peppers.
Used in topical pain relief, Capsaicin is more famously known as the burning oil used in pepper spray, that tiny bottle of protection that reality forces some of us to keep handy on our key chains, to injure and temporarily blind an attacker.
I wanted to convey the lack of a means of defense for women throughout history and underscore that sexual misconduct will not go unpunished.
What if lace, a textile often tied to seduction could both convey consent and serve as protection for the wearer?
The second collar pictured, "Nepeta cataria Lace Collar," is color-grown green cotton from Vreseis farm by Sally Fox in the Capay Valley, CA. This volumes about Amy's love for her cat, Bean, since Nepeta cataria, is, of course, the scientific name of catnip. (She's even knitted a sweater that allows its wearer to mimic Bean's coat of markings. Genius!!)
with Kevin Baum
Saturday, June 11 — 12:30 PM to 4 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.
with Patrice Krems
Saturday, June 25 — 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 fuchsia flowers.
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.
"The Queen's Ball: A Bridgerton Experience is an immersive Regency-era ball with period costumes and stunning decor. Enjoy music inspired by the Bridgerton soundtrack and be captivated by the performances around you in this interactive experience!" If you're a huge Bridgerton fan, you'll love this. The event takes place Friday, July 29; tickets start at $79.
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