Posted on September 25, 2019
“One falling leaf is not just one leaf;
it means the whole autumn”
— Shunryu Suzuki
This quote from Shunryu Suzuki, Sōtō Zen monk and teacher, accompanied the first leaf that I made in wire bobbin lace. The wise words describe an outlook on life where everything is connected in space and time, and people are born with an innate gift to experience this natural harmony in their lives.
Being a lacemaker is of course different than being a Buddhist monk, but there is something in the lacemaking process that calms the mind, deepens concentration and makes space for contemplation. Lace requires discipline to cultivate patience and build skills, and nothing can be rushed. Like nature, lacemaking has its own rhythm, and lacemakers must give up their concepts of time and expectations of achievement if they are to align with the craft tradition.
Fine craft of lace was not much known in Western Canada when I arrived. I tried to present lace as an art form, so I conceived the Falling Leaf as a picture in handmade frame, from which the leaf could be removed and worn as pendant. My skills in wire lace were quite basic at that time. I worked with tools that were far from ideal, and the only copper wires I could find were recycled, often from old magnet coils. But it was exciting time of exploration and new ideas.
I was fortunate to be represented by Van Dop Gallery in New Westminster at the beginning. My first small works, whimsical wire lace leaves among them, had a place to grow, mature and eventually go their separate ways. I do not know where the individual leaves ended up, but one set of four leaves representing seasons was commissioned by Four Seasons Hotels, and perhaps is still in their collection.
With my growing skills and new bobbins specially designed for wire lacework, I was able to pursue more complex lace patterns. I also learned basic jewellery making techniques along the way, which lead to using precious metals and expanding the wearable lace portfolio.
Raindrops Collection was based on point ground lace, designed on enlarged scale, with open honeycomb pattern and prominent gimps. Lace weave made from silver wire could be shaped into light, airy leaf pins and pendants, and matching necklaces and bracelets.
Raindrops Collection in oxidized silver with clear quartz beads was selected for the exhibition of finalists in the Powerhouse Museum’s second International Lace for Fashion Award in 2001.
The set was later acquired by the MAAS for their prestigious jewellery collection.
The Raindrops are currently on display at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia.
Another lace leaf appeared in an original wall piece “Sleeping in the Garden”, commissioned by Christine and David Springett.
The leaf pendant with berries was removable and wearable.
Meanwhile, my Silver Pin Studio in Vancouver started to offer wire lace instructions for interested lacemakers, and leaf motifs became staple designs for beginners and intermediate students.
This tradition was later carried on to the New School of Lace in Ocean Park.
Working with improved bobbins, much better selection of wire colours, and many creative lacemakers eager to learn and work with colours, it was possible, and necessary, to design new leaf patterns.
One of the designs, prepared for beginners, was chosen to be published in the New School of Lace Pattern & Tutorial Series. Complete instruction with pricking, working diagrams and detailed step-by-step photos is available for download in my online shop. The Half stitch Leaf is a simple pattern, which is easy to learn, yet looks quite complex when made in multiple colours. With imagination and practice, the new lacemakers can create their first lace pendants right away.
The leaves have grown in number, shapes and colours in the following years.
One of them, the copper beech leaf design, introduced metal smithing techniques for working with raw copper wire, and opened an experimental approach to lace colouring.
The same pattern was used for research of wire/fibre combinations in lace, which lead to yet another possibility in wearable lace art. The new Copper Beech Collection is now available for sale at the Silk Weaving Studio on Granville Island, in Vancouver, BC.
The Canadian herbarium of lace leaves would be incomplete without a native sugar maple leaf. Prototype is ready, and if all goes well, it might become a pattern for one of the future workshops.
After twenty years, I still find a lot of joy in making lace leaves. They are small and do not take too much time to finish. With use of rich palette of wire colours, each leaf is different, and truly original.
I like to make them for my friends and family, and send them all over the world.
And I love to wear them, too, and wear them often. When I lost some over the years, I imagined that they joined their brothers and sisters in the nature. One leaf was by chance discovered in the following spring in a pile of compost in my garden. It was a little bit dirty, but otherwise survived well, its coloured enamel coating intact and shiny.
That’s why, when I say that wire lace is tough and will last forever, I mean it!
Fall season 2019 is upon us, and the trees are slowly starting to change their colours. I look forward to pinning one of my old, worn prickings to the lacemaking pillow, rediscovering the pattern and creating a few more magical leaves.
Lacemaking time is precious for me, and I savour every moment.
I enjoy paying a visit to the meditative space where my mind is set free, like a leaf released on a fresh, crisp autumn day. In slowness and quietness of hand work, Suzuki Roshi’s quote comes back. Applied to lace, it makes perfect sense :
One cross and twist are not just stitches; they mean the whole lace.
Posted on September 1, 2019
We are pleased to present the 3rd lace|heart|art Challenge and Online Exhibition
of Handmade Bobbin Lace in Colour.
For this edition, we again found inspiration in photographs of Barbara Jean Jones – our dear friend, beloved daughter and a fellow lacemaker – to whose memory is this event dedicated.
Barb loved sun, and she captured many beautiful sunny moments with her camera. On the Canadian West Coast, sun can be in short supply, especially during long winter months. We yearn for bright and warm sunbeams, and worship them when they finally raech us penetrating layers of grey clouds. Like most of us, Barbara loved to spend summer outdoors. She cherished the warm season on the family farm in Lower Mainland, or in the BC interior summer house. She was always happy to follow the sun down south and visit her favourite place, California. Her personality seemed to be filled with sun energy – it radiated from her eyes and brightened her smile…
Free patterns with working instructions are provided for fibre as well as wire mediums. We invite lacemakers to use the supplied pricking and fill their hearts with vibrant, life-giving sun energy.
Download the free pattern and working instruction here.
If you have not participated in the previous edition, you can read the Story of Barb’s Heart . You can also view the 1st lace|heart|art Online Exhibition 2018 and 2nd lace|heart|art Online Exhibition 2019 with almost hundred beautiful lace hearts from all over the world.
We are looking forward to receiving your 3rd lace|heart|art challenge entries before February 14th, 2020!
Wendy MacKinnon, Lenka Suchanek, Pat Wrigley
Surrey, BC, Canada
Posted on March 26, 2019
Cedar driftwood (designed and made by Colin Hamilton of Thuja Wood Art
Enamelled copper and stainless steel wires
Semi-precious stones and beads:
Bamboo Coral, Clear Quartz Crystal, Hawk’s Eye, Rudraksha Seeds
Technique: handmade bobbin lace – TesseLace pattern
Dimensions in centimetres: h:43 x w:43 x d:5
Dimensions in inches: h:17 x w:18 x d:2
If cold winter months are good for something else than hibernating, it is for lacemaking. Long, dark nights offer quiet time for uninterrupted work and allow sustained focus that reaches almost a state of meditation.
Cocooning in my studio, I was looking for an idea for lace that would fit in one of Colin’s driftwood frames. Dried by sun and fresh air the wood feels so warm, as it is radiating energy collected over many summers. Just like standing cedar trees, the driftwood offers assurance that we, too, will survive yet another winter. Living on the West Coast of Canada for thirty years, I came to understand why cedar has been considered sacred by indigenous people.
An empty red cedar driftwood frame has been standing on the shelf in my studio for more than a year, patiently waiting for lace. Upon invitation, the images kept appearing, but none of them strong enough to stay and prompt me into action. One day, on a walk through fresh snow in Kwomais Point Park, I was amazed by dark lines of underbrush with embellishments of ice and red berries, set starkly against pristine white background. There is a lot of lace to be found in the forest, but rarely in such plain sight.
I started to work on my next offering. Once again, my connection with Veronika Irvine and her TesseLace worked miracles, and I was able to find the right grid and use the Circular Grid Templates for designing the mandala.
It worked so well that the piece was finished before the snow in the forest melted… It became my offering to the season that makes us revere cedar, to the beauty of snow and ice, and to the berries who know how to say ‘fertility’ like no other.
The Offering: Red Berries will be shown in juried exhibition ‘Just Gates’, organized by Arts Council of Surrey, in April 2019.
Copyright©2019. Lenka Suchanek. All rights reserved.
Posted on January 24, 2019
I do not write too often about contemporary lacemakers. There are out there, and each one of them is expanding horizons of the lace craft in unique ways. Handmade lace has creative potential that can never be exhausted, as each lace designer finds a new niche and new way of expression. Recently we have seen a great display of creativity in the Lace Not Lace exhibition of contemporary lace art, in Hunterdon Museum in Clinton, NJ, USA.
And there are many more than 28 living lace artists represented in the exhibition.
We, the lace artists, spend so much time dreaming, thinking, designing and making lace, that we lack time to communicate with each other. Maybe it is because we are scattered all over the world. But even when we pursue just our own work we know that we are not alone. We are connected with other lacemakers by invisible threads of lacemaking tradition.
When encounters do happen, though, they can be quite magical.
Last year I received an email Christmas greeting card from the Czech Republic on the other side of the world:
Beautiful lace art from Ivana Domanjova, lace artist, teacher and lace magazine editor.
The image of “Milenci” (“Beloveds”) took my breath away and I felt immediate connection with the work and with the author, whom I never met before. Ivana’s lace art follows the best standards of modern Czech lace design, with clean lines, subtle colouring and interesting, well thought-out patterns. It demonstrates unique talent, which is supported by flawless technique. Skill like this is achieved only by rigorous traditional schooling and years of practical experience. Because Ivana Domanjova has all that, her lace reached beyond craft. It has become true art, capable of relating matters beyond matter.
Since the first strong impression, the “Beloveds” were on my mind and I kept thinking how gently they hold each other, how they reflect and complement each other, how they are two joined into one… During the longest nights of the year, the twosome angel was reflecting the light that comes from the depths of darkness. And then, during quiet holidays, my only time for reading, I happened to come across a quote from Emanuel Swedenborg, that “masculine and feminine will reach entirety in heaven in a form of one angel”*. I am not an expert on teachings of Christian mystics, but occasionally encounter them on my journey to understand women and their place in fine arts, and in the world at large. The “Beloveds” reached me at the right time to illustrate Swedenborg’s hard-to-grasp idea, and did it precisely and beautifully, in the most feminine technique there is, the delicate hand made lace. I have never doubted that lace has that power, but it manifests rarely, only in hands of masters. I am truly grateful for meeting Ivana and her “Beloveds”.
To learn more about Ivana Domanjova and her original lace art, visit her website at www.domanjova.eu and Instagaram at izidora2
*Quote from a book: “Žena a spása světa” by Pavel Evdokimov
(Refugium Velehrad-Roma, 2011, ISBN 978-8074120664)
English version: “Woman and the Salvation of the World” (SVS Press, 1994, 978-0881410938)
French original: “La Femme et le Salut du Monde” (Tournai/Paris: Casterman, 1958)
Posted on September 14, 2018
stainless steel and enamelled copper wires
drift wood, crystal beads
Technique: handmade bobbin lace – free form
Dimensions: 48 x 72 x 5 cm (19 X 28 x 2 in)
Meganeura is an offering to Gaia and her transformative powers.
Meganeura, a dragonfly’s ancestor from the Carboniferous period, symbolizes transformation, survival, and incredible ability of Earth creatures to adapt and evolve with the environment. Watching dragonflies and knowing that their progenitor Meganeura lived 300 milion years ago, always fills me with awe and reverence for this planet and all life it carries.
This offering is a prayer for us, people of this Earth, to listen to Gaia, and learn from her wisdom… before it is too late.
This work is listed for sale in my Way of Lace shop on Etsy.
Copyright©2018. Lenka Suchanek. All rights reserved.
Posted on July 21, 2018
We are pleased to present the 2nd lace|heart|art Challenge and Online Exhibition of Handmade Bobbin Lace in Colour, dedicated to memory of Barbara Jean Jones.
In 2019 edition, a theme of the giving heart is symbolized with a bouquet of flowers.
Simple lace tape outlines the heart shape. Flowers grow from the bottom of the heart and blossom with love. They are wrapped with a bow and offered as a gift, with joy and gratitude for creativity, lace and life.
While the simple heart outline is provided, the blossoms are open to creative interpretation. We invite all lacemakers to fill the pattern with colours and textures, and create truly original flower arrangements. Simple or elaborate, we will accept all heart bouquets, and include them in our celebration.
Read more about the 2nd lace|heart|art challenge and download a complete kit, with a free pattern and working instruction for fibre as well as wire media.
We encourage everybody to try both materials and explore their colour potential.
If you have not participated in the previous edition, you can read the Story of Barb’s Heart and view the 1st lace|heart|art Online Exhibition 2018 with sixty beautiful lace hearts from all over the world.
We are looking forward to receiving your lace|heart|art #2 entries before February 14th, 2019!
Wendy MacKinnon, Lenka Suchanek, Pat Wrigley
Surrey, BC, Canada
Posted on June 26, 2018
Offering: West Coast Mandala will be exhibited in this popular show that highlights Surrey visual artists.
Richmond Maritime Festival
Richmond Maritime Festival at Britannia Shipyards, Richmond, BC
Saturday & Sunday, July 28-29, 2018, from 10am – 6pm
New School of Lace is returning to this popular festival to demonstrate a historical connection between fishing nets and lace! We will be set up at Seine Net Loft on the waterfront among many interactive exhibits about innovation and human ingenuity.
This festival is always a lot of fun, so make sure to experience it yourself this year!
Art in Found Spaces: Fiber and Lace Show
Langley Civic Center (Township of Langley City Hall), Langley, BC
Langley Art’s Council’s exhibition curated by a designer and textile artist (and also the New School of Lace student), Sybille Kissling.
September 19 – October 2, 2018.
In this first exhibit dedicated exclusively to lace art, all Metro Vancouver lacemakers get a chance to show their creative lace work. We are very excited to have such great opportunity, and everybody is already working on their entries. Join us to promote modern lace and show the beauty and creative potential of this fine traditional craft! Become a part of BC lace history making!
Lace, Not Lace
Contemporary Fiber Art from Lacemaking Techniques (curated by Devon Thein)
Hunterdon Art Museum, Clinton, New Jersey, USA
September 23, 2018 – January 6, 2019
This unique exhibition will be curated by internationally known lace expert Devon Thein. It will showcase the work of contemporary fibre artists applying bobbin and needle lace techniques to a multitude of fibres and filaments in unlimited colours and textures to interpret their world. This exhibition will explore how lace makers are expanding the traditional boundaries of that art form and creating exciting work that investigates contemporary themes, materials and forms.
The work of more than 20 lace artists from across the United States and around the world will be highlighted in this exhibition, which will introduce bobbin and needle lace as techniques that reach beyond tradition and are now taking their place in contemporary art.