Contents in This Month's Issue
It would seem that Spring is the season of joyous reunions and bittersweet departures at the Lacis Museum.
Last month, we welcomed back members both old and new of the Clones Lace crew, led by Máire Treanor of Ireland, for four fun-filled days of that strong crocheting energy. It was wonderful to see you after the hiatus of a few pandemic years, and we're looking forward to hosting you all again next year. (Dates pending—we'll keep you posted!)
And this month, we'll be saying a fond farewell, at least for the time being, to our exemplary Bobbin Lace instructor, Eva Gergely, as she departs from sunny and mild California for the Bayou City of Texas (also known as Houston). But as demand for her bobbin lace classes promises to remain high, we hope we can lure her back for some special events!
1920s Veil from the LMLT Collection to be Included in "Threads of Power" Exhibition Book
Photo credit: SFO Museum — Egyptian Revival: An Everlasting Allure
The Bard Graduate Center in NYC, an institution "devoted to the study of decorative arts, design history, and material culture," will be putting on an exciting new exhibition on lace this coming September. Called Threads of Power: Lace from the Textilmuseum St. Gallen (Switzerland), their exhibition book (though not the actual exhibition) will feature a piece in Lacis Museum's own collection, a 1920s veil that was featured in the SFO Museum's absolutely gorgeous 2015 exhibit on the Egyptian Revival: An Everlasting Allure.
SFO MUSEUM'S FROM PINEAPPLE TO PIÑA
Pieces from Pride, Endurance & Passion in the Spotlight Once Again
It is such a pleasure and an honor for the Lacis Museum to loan the jewels of its piña cloth collection to the San Francisco Airport for exhibition in its new display in the Harvey Milk Terminal.
At this point, visitors will only get a chance to enjoy it firsthand and in person when they take an international flight (as it lies beyond the TSA checkpoint), we hope you will get the same thrill and illumination from these photos—and, of course, the edifying exhibition webpage—as we did.
Michele's Hand-Dyed Shibori Resist Scarf
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.
Michele made this lovely shibori scarf as a her first project when she participated in a workshop with Maiwa, a Vancouver-based natural dyeing institution. She has a special love for shibori, and has been experimenting with a number of different vats.
Like so many of us, when Michele first saw how environmentally destructive fashion fashion industry practices were, she was deeply, profoundly horrified. Dyeing her own items at home naturally gives her life.
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.
Susan Matheson, costume designer for such movies as Crazy/Beautiful, Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, and most recently, Don't Look Up, selected this lovely trio of 1960s heels. We can only imagine what sort of project she's working on now, but these stilettos certainly paint a picture of an era, don't they?
Kimberly purchased this Union-made, mid-century princess wedding gown not long after it was lovingly restored to perfection by our Etsy specialist and mending expert, Julie Ann. It's an ultra-romantic confection of a dress, with long lace sleeves, a cathedral train, and adjustable bustle. And Kimberly thoughtfully left a review! Keep reading to hear what she had to say about the dress—and our stellar customer service.
"The item description perfectly matched what I received. I also messaged the seller with questions before purchase & they responded promptly. The shipping was very quick and nicely packaged and wrapped! I am very happy with this dress, it is even more beautiful in person than in the photos. And it fits perfect like it was made for me. Thank you so much, this is a dream dress!"
We're glad you love it, Kimberly, and proud that you'll be wearing it down the aisle. This dress is lucky to get a second chance to shine and adorn another bride on her happy day. Congratulations!
With the weather warming up and the summer months coming upon us fast, we suggest you swan around in beautiful vintage lingerie while doing your evening lounging, whether you be reading and tea-drinking, Netflix binge-watching, or knitting/embroidering/mending.
Here are some fabulous listings to inspire you on your journey towards cultivating more glamorous downtime for yourself. Imagine the feel of that silk, the airy breathiness of lace, the cozy comfort of an all-embracing step-in. Wouldn't it be nice?
The oldest (complete) garment at the Fashion Museum in Bath, England is linen: it's an Elizabethan man's shirt, "made of soft and supple cream linen, decorated in skilfully wrought blackwork embroidery. The shirt is dated to between 1580 and 1590."
This fascinting pleated linen dress comes from ancient Egypt (62323—2150 B.C.) and now lives at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It's "made of soft and supple cream linen, decorated in skilfully wrought blackwork embroidery. The shirt is dated to between 1580 and 1590. Linen was by far the most popular material for clothing both men and women in ancient Egypt... The planting, harvesting, and weaving of linen were common themes in tombs."
Scottish fashion designer and couturier Alexander McQueen's label sold this black beetled linen dress with pin-tuck detailing, a square neckline and puff sleeves for $5,760. Its lustrous texture is owed to the beetling of the linen, a process that date back centuries and involves the fabric being dampened and repeatedly beaten with wooden blocks for hours on end.
In The Golden Thread by cultural historian Cassia St. Clair (a wonderful book recently recommended to our staff by Lacis visitor and quilter Eve, who you'll remember from our last newsletter), we find that the development and use of linen dates back to 6,000 BC. The Ancient Egyptians, originators of the stuff, loved linen with a fervor: it was a major part of their agriculture and economy. You see linen in all stages of production in Ancient Egyptian imagery, and it played a significant role in their religious practices. (The bodies of the pharoahs were wrapped in it with exquisite care. Too bad early archaeologists were blind to its significance. They were busy hunting for treasures they could more easily recognize...!) And why not? It has so many wonderful qualities.
Linen lasts a very long time — case in point, see the pleated dress shown above! — and it only gets better with age. With each washing, linen increases in softness and pliability.
It's the perfect thing to wear in heat. Being so porous, it breathes and cools the skin, wicking away sweat and allowing it to evaporate just as quickly.
Having come from dry regions, linen can be made using less water than cotton.
And it comes from the flax plant, a renewable resource. The entirety of the flax plant is used up in the process, and this crop has a similar carbon footprint to hemp.
Therefore, compared to other fabrics, the impact of linen on the environment can be minimal. At present, pesticides and harmful chemicals are often used in the growing and retting* processes, but that doesn't necessarily need to be the case!
If consumers were to grow more conscientious, express their values stridently, and boycott harmfully grown/harvested/retted flax, corporations would be forced to adapt as a matter of course.
It's true that achieving stark whiteness in linen requires toxic chemicals. (Namely bleach.) Fortunately, the color of raw linen is often a pleasing neutral hue, and it isn't difficult to dye naturally.
One potential downside—depending on how you look at it—is that linen gets wrinkly easily. If the end user prefers a crisp look, steaming or ironing comes into play.
*Retting: After it's harvested, flax needs to lie in pools and be allowed to decompose somewhat. (It has quite a tough, woody stem around the bast fibers that are used to make the linen thread.) This can be done in man-made tanks, or in shallow ponds or bog waters, but it can also be done using the morning dew, depending on your climate. It's slower, but it's arguably one of the simpler and more sustainable retting methods out there.
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
At last, we have copies of this fantastic book available in the Lacis shop! Come take a look—we've already thumbed through it, and can assure you it's well worth reading.
Mini Sewing Kit in a Sweet Compact Case from SewTasty
Always be prepared! Here's everything you might need in "case" of a sewing emergency: scissors, seam ripper, threader, thread, needles in a needle case, ball-headed pins, snaps, and a measuring tape. Three cute designs make this a charming little Mother's Day present.
RC53 & RC54 $4/yd. & $5/yd, respectively
We now carry a new selection of 1" wide Petersham belting in black ($4.00/yard) and 1.5" wide in white ($5.00/yard)!
This is the perfect stuff for our seamstresses and costumers who need to make a belt or a waistband strong enough to support voluminous skirts. It's a tough polyester ribbed ribbon, stiff and inflexible, and it has a selvage edge to prevent curving.
Our talented visitors are always making the most interesting & beautiful things.
We love it when you share your creations & their stories with us!
Alexis Berger has come to Lacis time and again for vintage lace and cording for her personal wardrobe (which is so interesting!) She's also an incredibly accomplished artist whose glass jewelry is unique and gorgeous! Her aesthetic draws on the belle epoque and art nouveau movements, but expresses a deliciously macabre, witchy sentiment as well.
You'll quickly find that many of her pieces contain the age-old apotropaic Evil Eye, but also reference Victorian gesturing hands and forearms, fruits and animals....
Her visual language is utterly distinctive and chillingly gorgeous, and in a clever twist, her color palette puts us in the mind of hard candies. Take a look!
Alexis favors glass as a medium because it permits her "to paint with light and color in three dimensions," as it were. She has deep roots planted in the Bay Area: a native of Marin, she attended the prestigious San Francisco School of the Arts for high school, and then the Rhode Island School of Design for college, and her glassblowing workshop is located here in Berkeley.
If you're intrigued by what you've seen here, we recommend you read this interview with Alexis from Women Create—and don't forget to visit her Etsy shop. One-of-a-kind necklaces, earrings, and pins predominate, but she also carries postcards, tote bags, and glass flowers.
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.
Itty Bitty Baby Blossoms
with Patrice Krems
Saturday, May 14 — 12:30 PM to 5 PM
$55 + $20 kit fee (payable to instructor on the day of the class)
Prepare to be enchanted as you are taught to make these adorable Itty Bitty Baby Blossoms. They can be used as lingerie flowers, filler flowers interspersed between the grander larger flowers in an elaborate composition, romantic accents on clothing and needlework projects or sweet little darling blossoms that stand on their own.
You will learn how to make baby rosettes, vintage style cabochon rosebud, five petals flower, rickrack rose, and how to transform a larger ribbon by slicing it in half and searing the ribbon, making a decorative edge.
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 fuchsias 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.
The Alameda Vintage Fashion Faire is back! Based on our experiences attending it in prior years, we confidently anticipate it to be great fun, with vendors displaying incredible taste and style, delectable food and drinks, contests, raffles, live music... This is the first time it's come back since the pandemic, so don't miss it!
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!
Mark your calendars for this lace lecture on May 15 with artist, curator and educator Patricia Miranda! Check out her exhibition A Repairing Mend at the Jane Street Art Center in NY, explore her project further at The Lace Archive, and read even more coverage of Patricia's stunning exhibition here.
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