IMAGERY in LACE

October 1st - February 4th, 2006

Slide Show


Man’s soul, as inexorably connected to his visions, is demonstrated by his need to represent these visions in graphical forms. The need for man to express his fears, experiences and emotions in the universal language of his arts can not be denied. From pictures in the sand, to cave paintings, marks with finger or charred stick were natural.

As he created fibers and then fabric, pictorial imagery became more of a challenge but always attempted.

Some of the earliest attempts in fiber predates what we accept as lace but surely demonstrates this need to record these images. The woven nets of Peru, dating back to 400 AD were decorated with embroidered geometric animal forms, guided by the woven threads.

It was not till the early 16th century, that lace, as a conscious art form is recognized. The earliest designs were of a charted nature, where holes in a uniform grid could be left open or filled to create stylized images. The grid could be created from “drawn work” by withdrawing groups threads of both warp and weft in a regular fashion from a solid woven fabric, by “pull work” where the grid is formed by simply pulling threads together by wrapping to create the openings and by weaving or “buratto” where, by twisting weft threads, an open woven grid could be formed. It was not however, till the free formed grid created as a knotted net was developed that these charted designs became overwhelmingly popular and remained so well into the 20th c. This net, identical to that as made for fishing, became the base for decorative designs as part of Church and secular ornament.

Understanding that the world was flat and that the unknown needed to be known, man conjured up images to satisfy and define this unknown, suitably expressed as his fears in the form of beasts and his pleasures in the forms of angelic entities.

Recorded in the earliest pattern books from the early 16th c. these patterns have persisted till modern times where the relatively new technique of crochet became the popular vehicle for representing these designs.

The Renaissance erased many of the fears as knowledge replaced many of the areas of the unknown. Lace techniques became more complex and intricate imagery became more abstract, with floral forms now satisfying his creative needs. 

Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles lacismusuem.org