Contents in This Month's Issue
Lacis friends! Events this summer have been accelerating at a whirlwind pace — where even to begin??
We are thrilled to announce our new collaborative relationship with the San Francisco School of Needle Arts and Design. We'll be sharing our freshly-renovated second-floor classroom space with them for an exciting series of workshops they have planned, from passementerie this coming month, to tambour beading in October and whitework embroidery in January. Not only that, but we'll be proud to house their exhibition of the work of Ukrainian embroiderer, Lesia Pona, from July 29 until August 12.
It is called Threads of Life: Traditional Embroidery of Ukraine. In their own words: "Through this exhibition, Lesia Pona celebrates the robust variety of needlework practiced in Ukrainian folk embroidery. Using samplers and embroidered blouses whose stitches highlight selected regional styles, Pona tells the rich story of the craftsmanship, perseverance, and resilience of the Ukrainian people." We absolutely cannot wait.
Lesia Pona's body of work includes stunning traditional garments for both men and women, embroidered in fabulous detail; you can find them, and more, on her online portfolio, which we urge you to explore.
We're proud to be hosting the honorary artist's reception the afternoon of July 29th from 2:00pm - 4:00pm. Lesia Pona herself will be with us in person to give an in-depth talk about her ouvre and the specific pieces that you will see in Threads of Life: Traditional Embroidery of Ukraine.
For those of you interested in the folk arts of Eastern Europe, traditional embroidery, and textile traditions: we hope you will be able to make it! Not only does it promise to be a most revealing and rewarding presentation, but is the perfect opportunity for us to welcome Lesia, honor her important work, celebrate her craft, and also show her our immense gratitude that she could come and share it with us here in the Bay Area.
Beginning in February of last year, world events transpired that provoked an overwhelming surge of concern for Ukraine and its people. We were with them in spirit, then and now, so to be able to form a more tangible, material connection at this time, especially in the realm of the textile arts, feels like nothing less than an immense privilege.
Lacis friends, we cordially invite you to join us in celebrating Lesia's visit. She brings to us the Ukrainian people's unique, extraordinary textile traditions, and we hope she can bring our love, enthusiasm, and admiration home with her when she returns.
We're also very pleased to announce that Lesia Pona will be also be teaching an embroidery workshop right here at Lacis Museum, organized with the invaluable help of the Valley Quail (Walnut Creek Chapter) of the Embroiderer's Guild of America — yet another wonderful community of needleworkers we are glad to have made friends with.
Save the date: Saturday, July 29 from 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM is when it's happening. Stay tuned for more details coming very soon!
Our vintage- and historical-costuming-loving friends at The Art Deco Society of California will be sponsoring a class at Lacis, one we already know is going to be a real treat: it's Catherine Scholar's "Flexible & Functional" 1920s One-Hour Dress workshop (in two parts).
We hosted this same class ourselves about a year ago. Not only did it turn out to be enormously popular, but the talented student-sewists created the most stunning dresses! It was a veritable 1920s fashion show. While the cut of the dresses was the same, their unique and deliberate color choices, plus the myriad gorgeous ways our students embellished them, was such a pleasure to see. We are most eager to see what a second round of students creates.
There's more to look forward to with us in July: we'll be having an Armenian needle lace demonstration mid-month here, free to attend, led by our very own Elise Youssoufian. In the anteroom near our front entrance, she'll be demonstrating techniques and processes of creating an Armenian needlelace medallion live! Come and hear her share special snippets of history and meanings of specific needle lace patterns, symbols and motifs, plus stories from her own ancestral lace collection, which will be on display.
As often happens, we've been receiving a deluge of fantastic donations from our wonderful textiles-loving community. It's a reminder of how privileged we are to have the support and appreciation of folks who want to keep the textile objects of the past preserved, in circulation, and in use. Lacis Museum has become a rich repository for all manner of unique old items — from the strange and inspiring to commonplace and nostalgic — and as such, attracts the best kind of visitor: creative, curious, mindful of history, intentional and thoughtful about the future of material things.
For example, the good ladies of Los Gatos's The Happy Dragon Thrift Shop, a volunteer-run nonprofit, came for a visit and tour of our exhibit Day's End: Personal Glamour Exposed. They consulted us on some perplexing lace-related matters and bestowed upon us a few pieces for our permanent collection, like this fascinating, mysterious, heavily embroidered and dimensional corner border piece, as well as a Boye Design Forming Device, a fun little machine for making yarn and ribbon flowers, patented in 1935.
The Vintage Visage blog has a solid write-up on the topic of knitted flowers in their archives. As you can see, the trend has never fully died out. (Looks like it had a healthy resurgence in the '70s in both the UK and the States!) In the LMLT shop, we actually carry a number of convenient templates and devices for forming flowers, mainly from ribbon — although none quite as nifty, with such engagingly mobile parts, as the Boye Design Forming Device.
From Michelle Dhanak, we welcomed with awe a supplement to an earlier donation. It comes from the estate of her mother, Harriet Dhanak (1924-2022), a great lacemaker who studied the craft in Belgium. This included an extensive range of special interest magazines — of special interest to us, that is.
These materials include the International Bobbin and Needle Lace Organization's (OIDFA International) official bulletin from 1989-2016, Kant (of Belgium) from 1980-2009, the Lace Guild's quarterly Lace Magazine from 1990-1997, and Lace Express (a German publication) from 2007.
Researchers and bobbin- and needle-lacemakers, contact us and make your appointment to review these periodicals! We also have dozens of back issues of Selvedge Magazine, thanks to Lynne Stevens, one of our very generous supporters — a valuable treasury of textile arts knowledge.
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.
Hooray! Gitty Duncan completed the shoes we showed you back in May, and man, are they STUNNING! She's been working on a few others, too — you won't have seen this blue pair yet. Feast your eyes on its bold, dashing beauty!
We're proud to reveal that Gitty's throwing her hat — or her boot?? — in the ring and submitting them for a competition at the County Fair in Marin soon — and you'd better believe she deserves that blue ribbon!
She's studied under the best shoemakers, tirelessly practicing and honing her skills and her style... the result of which is what you see here. (There's another pair she's still got under development with ice-dyed velvet, though, that makes us absolutely shiver with anticipation!)
Whatever the outcome, she's a winner in our eyes. Thanks as always for letting us follow along in your cobbling adventures, Gitty! Your dedication is our inspiration.
We've had a number of visitors with month with very cool patchwork projects. Kate Godfrey made the splendid little string backpack (shown below left) when she took a workshop with Nancy Williams at Hello Stitch Studio! How cute is that??
If you love Kate's backpack too, maybe you should make your own at the same upcoming workshop the end of this month...! We think Nancy is really onto something with those.
There was also a quilt that Rebeca and her husband Gregory have been working on for their son, Jeremy, all year long. Now it's his birthday and he's finally going to receive it — and join his siblings in the custom quilt club! You see, Rebeca and Gregory have done this whole thing twice before, for their other children. Now it's Jeremy's turn, and as you can well imagine, they're quite glad to have one done for each of them!
If you look closely, you'll see how Jeremy's interests and passions are represented in the design. For example, he was a drummer in a band, and that's a really accurate representation of his drum set (far right)! In a brilliant touch, Rebeca and Gregory used our silver soutache cording to create the chromed legs. Jeremey loves dogs, and their presence is sprinkled throughout the quilt; and he actually works for Intel as a physical chemist. We admire the teamwork, dedication and love. It really warms the heart. Well done, Rebeca and Gregory!
All the details are there: even the reverse is cute. (Dogs, dogs, dogs...!) Plus, the top-stitching of the quilt forms a lovely tesselated pattern of paw prints and hearts in a subtle nod to that canine affinity. That particular detail was accomplished by Lynn Susan of The Cotton Patch in Lafayette, on whom Rebeca and Gregory have relied for years.
Stacey "Mama Nibs" Niblett made this lovely lampshade from a vintage embroidered table linen. She came into Lacis to find the perfect trim to cover its seams. It goes with a brassy, 1980s-looking standing floor lamp that she found and rescued from obscurity and painted white. We love it — the very essence of cottage core! We were so excited to show her all the options we have available for exactly this situation. It's going to be the cutest thing ever when it's all done.
Stacey visited Lacis with her daughter, Monica, who has a real talent for photography and fashion — check out her work! She's on Instagram as @momonibs. And Monica's sister, Carrie, is a marvelous seamstress — she's @skippingwithscissors (a brilliant handle) — though we love her nature-documenting account just as much. It's no mystery where they get their talents from! This is a family that sees — and frequently unlocks — the hidden beauty in everyday objects.
Our newest exhibit, Day's End: Personal Glamour Exposed, allows us to peek into the closets of history to reveal our most intimate items of clothing: the things never worn around strangers or out of the house. It is a joyful exploration of the gorgeous, often sensuous attire worn in private, like nightgowns, robes, and pajamas from the 1860s to the 1930s.
Such garments represented the shedding of one's public life to transition into a personal world of comfort and glamour. These historical clothes were worn for the wearer's pleasure and sometimes included intricate details that only one's closest loved ones ever saw. An elegant nightgown, an essential part of a bride's trousseau, would have only been seen by her new husband.
Nighttime apparel often featured inserts of the finest machine lace, hand embroidery, ribbons, shirring, pin tucks, ruffles—and sometimes the ultimate stamp of luxury, a custom monogram. And although these garments were available through catalogs and stores, many pieces were lovingly handmade at home, further confirming their cherished nature.
Stroll through this dreamscape of our past... before sweatpants, yoga pants, and workplace pajamas... and into a world of sumptuous personal glamour—exposed.
We've received so many rave reviews from our visitors, writing in our guest book and thoughtfully sending us notes in the post — thank you very kindly!
Explore darning and mending items from the LMLT Collection.
You'll find these treasures arrayed in a glass display case on your left, almost the first thing you see when you come into the shop. Each month this summer, we'll introduce you to a new family of darning and mending tools. This is part 2 of 4. Our hope is that it will inspire you to explore salvaging your own damaged items.
Mending and conservation of textiles is a sacred act dear to our hearts, so we sincerely hope you enjoy this variety of darning tools from our collection. We consider objects of this nature most aesthetically pleasing, each one potent with life, history, and generations of use. As William Morris, outspoken advocate for the revival of the traditional British textile arts, once said: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." All these, from the humblest to the most novel and extravagant, are definitively both.
This Robert Four tapestry reproduces a segment of "The Stag at Bay" from the Netherlands. The original dates back to the late 15th century, and it now resides at the Met Museum. This copy, however, you can see at Lacis Museum, hanging above our shop floor!
The Aubusson tapestry-weaving tradition has continued almost unbroken since the 1300s, when its small weaving industry was first established. There was a hiatus in the 1700 and 1800s, but its 20th-century revival peaked in about 1911.
The piece you'll see here at Lacis Museum dates from after the 1950s, but the methods used in its manufacture are extremely close to those of the artisans centuries ago. In fact, in 2019, Aubusson tapestries were declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
To nobody's surprise, this incredible mid-century dress sold almost the moment our listing dropped online. It's an exquisite work of art and a real collector's item!
Made of hand-painted cotton broadcloth, it depicts lush tropical florals over an airbrushed sunset palette. The skirt is dotted with clear and colored hand-sewn sequins for added visual interest.
Its bodice front is lined and boned on the Princess seams, and the total hem sweep measures a dazzling 208" total. Imagine dancing and twirling around in that!
The waist, however, only measures 26" — worn over a fluffy petticoat below, and complemented by that sweetheart neckline above, we can imagine how extremely striking the wearer's hourglass silhouette must have been... like a vixen that stepped straight out of a movie set in the South Pacific.
Can't go to the beach? Bring the beach to you! All these island-themed items were donated to the LMLT by our generous supporters. Sales in our Etsy shop support our nonprofit organization, so think of it as a charitable gift, not only to yourself, but to the LMLT as well.
These bright and shiny, oh-so-very-1980s gold Lurex wedges, with their sweet paisley pattern and chic self-fabric-covered button accents, are channeling the '60s hard.
The contrast between the natural beauty of an abalone pendant against the minimalistic, modernist silver-tone wire cable necklace strikes the perfect balance.
If the plants of Polynesia speak to you, maybe you want to take on this project: it's a not-quite-complete '60s barkcloth quilt top! It's the very picture of paradise.
In the mood for painting? This creamy beige silk charmeuse, fine as tissue, features a batik pattern of tropical leaves and bamboo. Just a little bit more to finish the job!
This 1950s stunner has a white hibiscus and gold crackle design. For added va-voom factor, there's a saucy side slit to show off your stems as you saunter around.
It's that luminous blue ikat print fabric and oversized bow at the neck that does it for us. Naturally, it's 1960s, so there's that, too. What a time to be in fashion!
From the LMLT permanent collection
A Late 17th/Early-18th C. Linen Damask Napkin
What appears to be a rather plain white napkin measuring 45" long by 34" wide proves to be, on closer inspection, a linen damask weave, hundreds of years old and commemorating an event from 1686. It's incredibly fine with a weft count of 112 threads per square inch and a warp count of 80 threads per square inch. Its image is made up of a plain weave ground contrasting with a satin float stitches (4 under and 1 over).
To properly see the damask image woven into the napkin, you must examine the fabric closely, an an extreme angle — or photograph it and adjust its levels until the image emerges, as our curator has done here. Naturally, this picture is shown off to its best advantage when the item is clean and pressed.
For historical context, in 1541, the Ottoman Turks conquered Hungary and ruled it for more than 140 years. In 1686, the Hapsburgs' Leopold I "retook" Buda — a city we now know as Budapest — and by extension, the country of Hungary.
Napkins of this kind were not unknown as propaganda items, it seems: here is one that was sold at auction through Christies that depicts the capture of Lille. The V&A notes that fine linen damask was a prestigious textile used at court for the ceremonies associated with dining. The highest quality was woven in the Southern Netherlands, and it could be made to commission."
If you read the pages we shared with you last month from Larousse Gastronomique about table linens, you'll see the end of that encyclopedia entry sets the stage — or the table? — for the market and manufacture of these kinds of decorative table linens.
Their subjects were remarkably varied. They ranged from the Biblical to the mythological and historical, to hunting scenes, cityscapes, coats of arms, assorted plant and animal life. It would be so easy to overlook an otherwise ordinary-seeming white napkin, yet the images contained with the damask can unfold into a kaleidoscope of wonders and delights. We advise you to look upon them with care.
To inspect it more closely, we have a full breakdown of all the visual elements you can see on the piece here. Then come visit it in our Museum Shop, where it'll be on display for all to see!
Don't forget, Lacis Museum Members receive 20% off of books purchased in our Museum shop
"A new graphic approach to traditional Japanese Sashiko!
"The Sashiko embroidery designs in this book are almost architectural in nature--fresh and exciting. They include time-honored patterns used in new and striking ways as well as innovative designs inspired by things that we use and see every day. Paper clips, bridges, factories and seaside scenes are just a few of the many sources of inspiration for these 31 fabulous embroidery designs.
"This complete how-to stitch design and pattern book includes:
"Illustrated techniques showing you how to chart your pattern and forming the perfect stitches
"Actual-size grids along with instructions for executing your designs
"Easy projects for accessories like bags, napkins and tissue box covers
"Inspirational photos demonstrate the flow, texture and use of color that modern sashiko delivers, as well as some of the cool things you can make with these elegant and whimsical patterns!"
The 6" Bobbin Holder Bar
We're anticipating this nifty little gadget's arrival in August. It's a bobbin holder, after the traditional Belgian style. Bobbin lace makers, don't let your bobbins bounce all about! Use one or even two in tandem to really secure your passive threads. Trust us, they'd rather be bound down. Nobody has the time to de-tangle an unnecessarily unruly situation!
Baba's connection to Lacis Museum goes way, way back.
His millinery creations have never failed to enthrall us with their almost post-apocalyptic, time-tested workwear quality. These are hats that feel absolutely magical, imbued with soul. They often come with a little pocket with some accessory or other, typically a useful old tool of some kind, belonging unmistakably to that hat.
Baba is a truly visionary artisan: all objects he produces with his hands — or even just touches, like the modified sneakers and heavy army-surplus jackets — seem to positively glow with that inimitable patina, heavy with character, a sort of inborn wisdom... a spiritual weight. A contemplative aspect. An earthy flow.
Baba's unique clothing brand is called Xelcom. It's promounced "hel-KAHM," which is Wolof — that's a language spoken in Gambia, Mauritania, and Senegal, where Baba is from. Xelcom means "prosperity of the mind." It isn't limited to hats — he does other garments, too. (Also see his woven leather bracelets below.)
Creating, you could say, is second nature to Baba. He's one of those artists born with strong instincts for craft, for functionality and aesthetics. For creatives like him, life without art is simply not an option. Furthermore, working with needle and thread is in Baba's blood: he's the son of a tailor from a tribe renowned for their skilled craftsmanship. Starting from a very young age, he would perform helpful tasks for her around her atelier, such as cutting pieces of cloth. The act of stitching brings him back to his mother every time.
Recently, the Red Bay Coffee Company of the SF Bay Area — itself an artist-founded enterprise, with a "public roastery in Oakland [that] serves as a community hub" — profiled Baba online in a short video.
We were so delighted to watch their behind-the-scenes interview — in just a few seconds, it revealed a side of him we hadn't seen before!
Baba also makes these remarkable woven leather bracelets; they're available via Dr. Collectors online.
Follow Baba's adventures on Instagram: he's @xelkom. And take a leaf out of his book: this summer, bring your needlework outdoors, while you can. It's good to touch the soil, smell the odors of the grass and the breeze as you stitch, and the light's better out here. And who knows? Maybe the influence of nature could improve your work.
Do you have a passion for...
Preserving your cultural textile arts heritage?
For cultivating and educating the textile arts community?
For spreading the love of needle, bobbin and thread?
Do you happen to teach lacemaking (bobbin lace, needle tatting, crochet or knitted lace, etc.) or historical costuming and hatmaking skills? Perhaps you've already led similar workshops, or have designed an interesting textile arts workshop that would complement these fields.
If this sounds like you, we'd love to hear about it. Fill out an Prospective Instructor form and email it back to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
A Ribbon Class: Delightful Daffodils
with Patrice Krems
Saturday, July 15, 2023 — 12:30 to 5 PM
$55 + $20 kit fee (payable to instructor)
Spring will be in the air as you make a delightful pleated daffodil out of French wired ribbon!
You will learn how to transform flat ribbons into a three-dimensional ruffled confection. If there is time, you will learn how to make a beaded tassel cascading from the end of the calyx.
Depending on whether you decide to make the Small or Large Daffodil, this versatile flower pattern can be finished to turn your daffodil into a brooch, pin cushion, a hat decoration or even a drip catcher sitting jauntily on the spout of a teapot!
A Ribbonwork Class: Pleated Fuchsias
with Patrice Krems
Saturday, August 12, 2023 — 12:30 to 5 PM
You will be delighted with the Pleated Fuchsia, a fanciful ruffled confection made of French-wired ombre ribbon. 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 saucy blossoms will bounce and twirl like whimsical ballerinas from the ends of the gimp stem.
Individually, these dainty delights are the perfect size to be used as a fob on the end of embroidery scissors or as a zipper pull. Create a cluster and wear them as a brooch. Shorten the gimp and they can be turned into delightful dangling earrings. You can even create a one-of-a-kind fringe. There are endless ideas and uses for these fanciful fuschia flowers! Popular in the 1920s, the Pleated Fuchsia is a versatile ornament for hats or garments.
with Kevin Baum
Saturday, August 19, 2023 — 12:30 to 4 PM
Have you admired tatting and wondered if you could be able to tat? Tatting is surprisingly easy to do, despite its seeming intricacy. Only a few stitches need to be mastered in order to create beautiful tatted works of art. These beginner classes will get you on track for shuttle tatting by teaching you the tools and techniques.
You will concentrate on learning the double stitch, which all shuttle tatting is based on. Once the double stitch has been mastered, you 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.
Freestyle Flowers: A Surface Embroidery Class
with Laura Tandeske
Saturday, October 28, 2023 — 12:30 to 4 PM
$45 + an optional $5 kit fee (payable to instructor)
This will be a fun and interactive surface embroidery course that is perfect for both the first-time embroiderer and the experienced embroiderer looking for a refresher.
You will learn how to stitch flowers and stems and how to stitch on clothes or bags in particular. If you have a project that you would like to work on, you're welcome to bring it. Please bring some practice fabric to work on before stitching on your final piece. You'll pick up techniques and tips that you just can't get from books!
An In-Person Demonstration
Witness the creation of an Armenian needle lace medallion! Discover the intricacies not only of this craft, but its complex living history and remarkable cultural significance.
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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Newsletter written and edited by Christine Krause.
Any inaccuracies or errors are her own. Please email any comments, corrections or updates you may have to: email@example.com.
The Lacis Museum of Lace & Textiles
2982 Adeline St.
Berkeley, CA 94703