Official Newsletter   •   October 2023

Contents in This Month's Issue

Greetings, Lacis friends

Let the spooky season start!

In November, we'll be opening a dramatic new exhibit, Transcending Fashion, replete with lace accessories, mainly collars, but also handkerchiefs, like the one seen above. Be sure to check out our Message from the Director for more on that.
    We have a splendid schedule of classes coming up for the fall, like Visible Mending: The Boro Way and the Gothic Ribbon Rose, so go check them out!
    But best of all, we're ecstatic to announce that this month, the day before Halloween, we're hosting a VERY special event. Read on for all the juicy details.

Reading & Book Signing with the Author!

Celebrating Julia Park Tracey's new
historical fiction novel


Free, Limited Admission RSVP Required!
Monday, October 30 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Wear your best Victorian and Civil War-era garb - bonus points if it's in black! - to enter a raffle contest. Winners get a free signed copy of the book and a year's Museum Membership.

The Bereaved, based on Julia Park Tracey's own family history, tells a story of immense interest to all our patrons whose passions include the 19th century, fashion, period costume, and sewing.

Our heroine, Martha Lozier, is a widowed mother of four. Vulnerable and alone, armed only with her skills and tools as a seamstress, she strives and fights to raise and protect her four young children in New York City.
    In a time when women's rights, even a mother's rights, remained viciously curtailed by society, Martha's immense courage, dignity, and heart-wrenching story will move and inspire you.

When Julia Park Tracey, an award-winning journalist, essayist, and poet, embarked on this ambitious project many years ago, her research endeavors led her to the Lacis Museum. She thanks the LMLT in her acknowledgments at the end of the novel, as well as Erin Algeo, the manager who so thoroughly and brilliantly illuminated the world of a 19th-century American seamstress for her.
     When Julia returned to LMLT victorious, presenting us with a copy of her novel, she did our museum a great honor. Now it is our turn to honor her, her brilliant achievement, and Martha's story: her sacrifice, her struggle, and her success.
     The reading will take place in our downstairs gallery, where we will soon be exhibiting a stunning array of antique lace collars and handkerchiefs. Admission is free but limited, so make sure to RSVP!

Attendees in period costume will be given a raffle ticket for a chance to win a free signed copy of The Bereaved and a year's Museum Membership!

Notable donation: Antique Japanese hair ornaments

Jessica Krakow has made donations to Lacis Museum in the past, and we were delighted by the sublime beauty of her latest contribution: a set of late-1800s Japanese hair ornaments, which she originally obtained from the Asian Art Museum in SF.
    The motifs are sweet tangerine branches. But just as beautiful as the pins themselves is the black lacquer display box they were stored in. It's a gorgeously crafted work of art itself, and we were impressed with the clever design that so precisely holds the pair such that the bangles dangle beautifully, capturing the magic of their movement.


Customer Projects

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.

Lacis visitor Julia Roy and her husband have the best sense of humor — and collaborative team spirit.
    Julia had never done embroidery before, but she bought this cozy vest secondhand, removed its frilly shoulder decorations, and added this false pocket and pocketwatch for a cool trompe-l'œil effect. She really went all-out, sparing no effort! We love the use of French knots as a filler, and the types of stitches she used to create different effects — like that chain...!
    It was Mr. Roy's idea to replicate that iconic Mickey Mouse-type dial, with the moving arms — but indicating a time to match the prediction of the Doomsday clock. (He even provided the sketch of Mickey for Julia, freehand, right on the spot!) If you haven't heard of it already, he explained that this was a conceptual clock, first discussed in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, marking the immanence of a human-made global catastrophe.
    We got the joke instantly: to have such a ubiquitous character — the very symbol of homogenous, Western commerce and media, but also carrying connotations of innocence, childhood and kitsch — counting down the seconds til the end of humankind is exactly the type of tongue-in-cheek, ironic twist that we appreciate at Lacis Museum. It's proof positive that pop culture references can be used in the most subversive ways. Creative and clever! Well done, you two. We love to see that kind of partnership — very inspiring. Thank you for coming to visit us, and thank you for sharing the story behind this surprising and very special embellishment. Come again soon!

Upcoming Exhibit

The Lace Accessory: Transcending Fashion

Opening November 10

Accessories define us and set us apart from others in the world of fashion. The typical accessories such as necklaces, bracelets, purses, and shoes make us unique. The collar and handkerchief, once only functional items, have become fashion statements that reflect our personal identity and message. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg exemplified this purpose when she wore a lace collar on her black robe, which symbolized a sartorial strategy that powerful women have practiced throughout history.
    From the Middle Ages to the present day, collars have been a significant part of fashion. The great ruff, a collar worn in the Renaissance, was the most outlandish statement of costume. Over time, collars evolved into many related objects of adornment that made timeless statements about our personality.
    The bertha, jabot, appendage on the bonnet and headscarf, and tie were all supports for various sartorial statements. Initially, the handkerchief was tied to physical needs such as wiping sweat from the brow. However, it has evolved into a coveted luxury item that is held in hand and displayed publicly. Lace and needlework have become the perfect medium for these ultimate accessories, showcasing the highest level of execution.

This new LMLT exhibit will display beautiful examples of collars and handkerchiefs from the 17th—20th century featuring various lace and embroidery techniques.

Current Exhibit

Day's End: Personal Glamour Exposed

Tours are by appointment only

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!

Currently in the Museum Shop

Aubusson Tapestry: "The Stag at Bay"

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.

Read more about the tapestries.

Recently Sold in Our Etsy Shop

Let's find out where our vintage treasures ended up!

"Nice item, arrived quickly," remarked Robert, our customer. And, best of all, it "was in better shape than I thought." He had very little difficulty replacing the ribbon — and we're so glad he made the attempt!
     This wooden brisé hand fan dates back to the 1860s. It's made in the American style, with pierced wood sticks — and comes with a teeny-tiny vanity mirror! How fun is that?
    Brisé will be a word familiar to those among you who dance, particularly ballet. It's a jump in which the dancer sweeps one leg into the air and off to the side, while simultaneously jumping off the other leg. Both legs are struck together before the landing — something visually suggestive of such folding fans as these.

Current Etsy Listings

As seen on our social media

Black is never out of style, but the month of October gives you the very best reason to wear it. Here's something dark from every decade.

1800s high-neck Parisian blouse

Belle Epoch Blouse

Bound seams and fine hand-sewing, with an inner label bears the location and date: "Paris 1899" — stunning.

1900s silk mourning dress

19th-C. Mourning Dress

Silk jacquard woven taffeta. Deep pleated collar, jet black glass beads along neckline and sleeves.

1910s navy silk blouse

Edwardian navy silk blouse

Silk taffeta long-sleeved blouse, with a precious beige lace trim in the shape of deep scallops.

1920s silk piano shawl


This piece needs a little love. Black silk satin base with exquisite 17" hand knotted silk fringe and embroidery.

1930s lace jacket


Black rayon floral chantilly with a matching lace neck tie and scalloped hems. The sheer elegance...!

1940s crepe cocktail dress


This has the long chainette fringe of a '20s flapper dress, but the shoulder pads are authentically 1940s!

1950s mermaid wriggle dress


Black alençon lace with taffeta ruffles at the hemline and a pleated sweetheart neckline.

1960s driving gloves


These are Fownes Brothers gloves — first est. in England, 1777! This pair was made in the Phillipines.

1970s crochet shawl

THAT '70s

Handmade crochet circular piece in black with light coral, yellow, tan, off-white and green stripes.

1980s asymmetrical cocktail dress


Glitter and lace — and an extravagant shoulder drape. "Cachet for Bari Protas, I. Magnin" label.

1990s Italian lizard bag


Perfect for business travel, girl boss! Center divider has big zippered pockets lined in moire taffeta.

Y2K-does-1960s pillbox hat


Pressed felt hat accented with black/crystal rhinestones set on silver-tone prongs.

New Favorite Products & Publications at Lacis

Our staff picks their favorite fresh titles & tools

Don't forget, Lacis Museum Members receive 20% off of books purchased in our Museum shop

Crochet in comfort with this hardwood hook, perfect in its simplicity. It measures 7" long and runs in sizes E through O (3.5mm to 12mm) — lightweight, ergonomic, and perfect for the novice crocheter, with its tiny extra touch of friction — only $9 each.

Embroidery Garden is a book of beautifully clear and tasteful design, bursting full of gorgeous florals to replicate. In particular we find the dense, black-on-black and black-on-brown vegetal motifs absolutely stunning. Just look at Yanase Rei's tumblr — STUNNING. $27

A super inviting book for the person who wants to try embroidery for the first time, but feels a little bit timid about it. This book couldn't be clearer or more friendly. It really takes you swiftly by the hand, with lots of photographs along the way. Learn the basics, the essential different stitches, and step-by-step, how to embroider everyday objects in the most charming way possible in no time. $17

Straw Plaiting from Heritage Crafts is a very handsome tome, masterfully blending history and how-to. The art of plaiting and braiding and basket-making is a very old and sacred one, and made for those attuned to the textures of natural fibers. Get in touch with dried grasses and sticks this autumn season, and be inspired to make a hat, a basket, a handbag, or even straw slippers. $60

Customer of the Month

Jessica Cohen

Jessica is an immensely talented visual artist who studied at the Academy of Art College in SF and CCA in Oakland, has illustrated the covers of numerous books, and created The Tarot of the Waste, a fantastically unique, post-apocalyptic themed deck of cards.

When Jessica Cohen walked through our doors this September, there was a sudden shift in the atmosphere. It pricked curiously at our senses, became tingly, charged with a strange and magical energy. It felt portentous, like the foreshadowing of something... powerful. This figure had come to us like a dark Mary Poppins, a sibyl, a guide. And when she introduced herself, we realized her arrival marked the immanence of our favorite season: the season of the witch.
    To our delight, Jessica was carrying in her arms an unexpected gift. She had the most astonishing donation to convey to us: a weighty bundle of innumerable high-quality corsetry busks from Dark Garden, San Francisco's premier lingerie atelier. (Keep this in mind if you're embarking on a new corset-making adventure...!)
    But that was hardly the end of it. Everyone present was swiftly charmed by Jessica's warmth, kindness, charisma — and artistry. We were utterly blown away by her original work, which included a line of recently released Feline Oracle divination tools. We guarantee you've never seen anything like it.
    Do you ever feel like your cat is nonchalantly trying to tell you something? Everyone knows that cats have an innate connection to the great beyond. Jessica has conjured from the realms of her own vast imagination what you need to finally decipher their arcane messages. Cast catnip-filled runes, and throw down a knit blanket scattered with symbols... as if we needed another reason to contemplate our cats' every mysterious decision.
    Brilliant job, Jessica — we love it, and are so honored to have made your acquaintance. Thank you for the special delivery, and can't wait to see what you create next!

Textile Arts Calendar

What to Watch, See, & Do


October 7, 2023    Star Wars Ball
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, there was a grand ball...
    Join us on Saturday, October 7, for a splendid science fiction/fantasy ball inspired by the Star Wars universe, with music by the amazing Avalon Rising. Our venue is the Grand Ballroom and Salon of the historic Alameda Elks Lodge, a historic building perfect for a fantasy ball that will make you feel like you're in an elegant ballroom in the grand metropolis of downtown Coruscant!
     Costumes inspired by the Star Wars universe - cinematic, television, or literary- are very welcome. Indeed, Science Fiction or Fantasy Costumes from any universe - past, present, or future - are welcome: whether you are Warring among the Stars or Trekking among them; whether you are a Time Lord, a Space Cowboy, or a Guardian of the Galaxy, you are welcome! Steampunk attire, or vintage or modern evening dress is also appropriate – as long as you can dance in it.


Sunday, September 10    Clothing Goes to War - Presentation & Book-Signing by author Nan Turner
Join us at the fabulously Art Deco Orbit Room for a fun and festive author presentation. Enjoy no-host craft cocktails & snacks in this convenient mid-Market Street location.
     Nan Turner's book, Clothing Goes to War, celebrates creativity inspired by scarcity: turning mosquito nets into wedding veils, face makeup into leg makeup, bed sheets into wedding dresses and military blankets into girl's coats.
     "Make do and mend," a slogan of the World War II years, resonates with us now, as sustainability and the need to reduce textile waste becomes evident in the face of global climate change.
     Author (and longtime ADSC member) Nan Turner provides the backstory for that slogan and brings the period to life through first person interviews, in-depth study of oral histories, and content analysis of period diaries and periodicals. Nan shares the stories, inspirational and often moving, of women in wartime dealing with "what to wear"!


Thursday, October 19 — Friday, October 20    Introduction to Tambour Work Level 2
Tambour embroidery is the most widely practiced method of embellishment in the French Haute Couture Fashion industry. This series of classes will teach the student first the basics of utilizing the tambour hook and continue on to advanced techniques and methods used in embellishing garments and accessories.
    This second level of the introduction into Tambour embroidery series with Bob Haven will continue the student's exploration of techniques using the hook, and will bring the embroidery student a step closer to the final goal of designing embroidery from the frame into an article of wearable fashion.

This class takes place at LMLT, but it is a SFSNAD workshop, with registration via Eventbrite.
Read more about the course on their website.


Saturday, October 7    Escoffion Headdress Workshop
Create a beautiful escoffion, a cap worn by women in the Renaissance inspired by Landsknechte costume style.
     The caps will be made from metallic wired edge ribbon woven and edged with trim, and decorated with pearls or beads. They will be formed over a head block wig form or padded styrofoam head. This type of head covering is not limited to the Renaissance period. It would make a perfect headdress for a Fancy Dress costumes or worn with Renaissance-inspired Artistic Reform Era tea gowns. The "House of Worth" designed many such Fancy Dress costumes that would look fantastic with this cap.


Sunday, November 5    The Art of Beetle Wing Embroidery
Beetle wing embroidery, made with glittering gold work embellished with the wing casings of the Jewel Beetle, was popular through most of the 19th century and into the 1920s. This online workshop with the one and only Catherine Scholar will use couched cording techniques to make two simple motifs and learn to shape and apply the wings.


Saturday, November 11    The House of Worth: The Rise of Haute Couture in the 19th Century
This 3-hour workshop with Chantal Filson includes a presentation on 19th-century couturier Charles Frederick Worth, with a look at period dressmaking techniques such as foundation layers, wadding and balayeuses. Examples of antique garments will be shown, as well as dressing a live model in a reproduction Worth 1885 ballgown with corset and bustle.
    The presentation ends with a short workshop portion on curling, shaping and trimming ostrich plumes. The instructor will demonstrate several methods with hands working on-camera for students both at home and in-person, a projector and screen will be used on-site to show attendees in detail.

Maker Faire Bay Area is back and better than ever, folks!
Save the dates and "escape to an island of imagination + innovation"
October 13th-15th & 20th-22nd

Join Our Museum

About Us

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

We appreciate your patronage!

     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

A Message from Our Director

Lace, the gift from the gods, had an extraordinary beginning, originally relegated to royalty and the aristocratic. It would succumb to a sudden mortality when it overwhelmed society, leading to its demise along with the society that worshiped it, by the French Revolution.

With royalty now gone, along with the sartorial role lace played, all who could only dream of lace now wanted it. The Nineteenth century not only provided lace but provided new means of making it by both hand and through the genius of the new industrial revolution. The biggest change was the release of lace from its sartorial rules, inspiring creativity, the formidable collar now becoming a magnificent article of self-expression.

The complementary handkerchief, the timeless necessity, would follow suit.

This is the story that will unfold beginning November 17th when our major lace exhibit TRANSCENDING FASHION opens.

     —Jules Kliot, Director

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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:

The Lacis Museum of Lace & Textiles
2982 Adeline St.
Berkeley, CA 94703