Posted on January 16, 2021
The first new moon of the new year has been born in the midst of darkness to mark a new beginning. Days are getting longer in the Northern Hemisphere, which means that the solar system is still in sync, and we are safe to make plans for the months ahead.
With an obvious bias I say: “Let’s make a lot of lace this year!” And I really mean it.
The virtual world that is a part of our present experience is bewitching as it flounders in a perpetual chaos. But the real world, and real everyday life benefits from at least some order. Handmade lace craft inherently contains that harmony. I believe that throughout the centuries, lacemakers were finding tremendous satisfaction in transforming a multitude of loose threads into symmetrical patterns. And today is no different.
In our times of exaggerated efficiency, it may seem useless, or even wasteful and selfish to spend hours at the lacemaking pillow, with no other purpose than to enjoy peaceful, slow, ‘unplugged’ activity. But if you have ever experienced the inner peace achieved through the handwork, and noticed how that tranquility fills the surrounding space and transfers to the lace itself, you know better.
You know that the true purpose and true fulfilment in life comes from within.
To contribute to a good start of the New Lace Year 2021, I am offering a free Old Wise Tree Pattern and Tutorial to all lacemakers who are looking for a new creative project. The pattern is suitable for fibre or wire lace, and it would be great if it inspires lacemakers to work in both mediums.
The comprehensive tutorial includes step-by-step instructions with detailed photographs of the whole work, from preparations to mounting the lace to the background. The Old Wise Tree Gallery is coming soon to showcase the unique lace trees, and you can add yours too, if you wish to share it.
Enjoy, explore and create!
And keep in mind, that the fine balance of this world might as well be in lacemakers’ hands 😉
Posted on December 14, 2020
Old Wise Tree is one of my oldest patterns. I designed it a long time ago, when I was learning basics of Torchon Lace. I came across a circular pattern that was supposed to be a simple doily, yet I saw more creative potential in it. The fans looked to me like a tree crown, and the ground like a net of twigs. At that time I did not have enough skills to design lace branches and tree trunk, so I decided to braid the threads and see what happens.
To my surprise, the idea worked and produced an interesting result. The perfect geometry of the crown dissolved into naturally shaped branches that braided towards the trunk and continued to disperse into a labyrinth of roots. The piece illustrated the complexity of bobbin lace, which is made with many threads yet creates a light and open weave. It was a good beginner’s piece and I really enjoyed making the lace as well as free form finishing. Every tree turned out to be different and seemed to share its unique wisdom of a long and fruitful life.
To my even bigger surprise, the finished tree pictures became popular and I created many of them.Many years later, when my lace studio branched out into more directions and projects, I decided to offer the Old Tree Pattern as a free download on my first website and invited lacemakers to grow their own lace plants. I don’t know how many trees were made based on that pattern, but I received some lovely responses from lacemakers worldwide — from editors of various lace magazines, a lace club members who featured the trees in their printed calendar, and also from nuns in a convent who used the image on postcards printed for a fundraiser… Those were special encounters and I still remember them, others were lost with all other materials when I closed my Silver Pin Studio and website. Somewhat, the Old Tree working instructions did not completely disappear from the cyber space, and lacemakers were still able to find them. Time went by and the trees kept growing.
Many more years later, one of the students in my New School of Lace found the Old Tree picture online and brought it to the class, asking if we could do something like that. It was a happy reunion. The pattern was re-drafted to accommodate also the new wire medium, and soon after we could show a new mixed forest of cotton, silk, linen, copper and bronze trees – each as unique as the lacemakers who created them.
In the strange year of 2020, the lace school was closed and all live lace events cancelled, and I needed some calm lacemaking time.
I retrieved my old Torchon bobbins, wound them with lovely Barkonie linen threads in an amazing range of browns, and prepared the familiar pattern. It felt so good to be working on the simple Torchon ground again, slowly and mindfully. Spaces between the pins were filled with memories which went back all the way to the first design. If so many impression have been accumulated during mere thirty-five years, how vast is the memory of old trees that are hundreds years or even 1000 years old… and how truly wise they must be!
When the lace was finished, starched and mounted on a canvas, it was time for the root work. I attempted shutting the mind that thinks in patterns in order to work with the threads freely, without planning. It is harder to do than to say, but after a while one taps into a flow and the roots start growing and spreading instinctively. In the creative process, the calmed mind allows access to the unconscious realm that is hidden in the depths, just like the roots are buried deeply in the soil. There, in the darkness of the earth and psyche, lies the secret of life.
It is the beauty of lace, and creative work in general, that it becomes a gateway to such journey that enriches one’s life experience. Therefore, I decided to make the pattern available on my website again. So that any lacemaker who wishes to explore the secrets of trees, can give it a try and experience the creative power of nature.
Free Old Wise Tree pattern with working instructions is coming soon!
Posted on December 13, 2020
I love trees, they are amazing. Not just beautiful, majestic or useful… I believe they are truly wise. They live long lives and build a complex community with other organisms within their physical environment. There is an immense number of connections in the living sphere formed by the tree trunk, branches and leaves above the ground and a vast root system underground. And everything, from the crow nesting in that tree to the tiniest bacteria in the soil underneath, works together in a perfect synergy.
People who are close to nature can sense that harmony, and I think that’s why trees were considered sacred in many ancient traditions. The myths and legends about wise trees that help human beings had been shared and passed on in every culture.
In our age, the old legends are being confirmed by modern science, and it’s wonderful to see young aspiring scientist dedicating their lives to understanding the dynamics of healthy forests in order to restore the balance that was tipped by blind human activity. Some of the projects are generously shared via interactive websites, being accessible to the anybody connected to internet.
One of my favourite sites to visit is the Crowther Lab at ETH Zürich, Switzerland. Their research revealed that there is more than three trillion trees on Earth. The data suggests that restoration of forested land at a global scale could help capture atmospheric carbon and mitigate climate change. That’s a great news!
I like the idea of smart tree planting, because it is simple and practical, can be done with the available resources most of all it can involve communities, including youth from urban areas, and direct their energy and desire to help our planet to where it will make a real difference. Because, after all, it is going to be theirs, and their childrens’ world.
For those of us who already did their share of tree planting and protecting, and kids raising and educating, the Three Trillion Trees on Earth movement can still provide inspiration – perhaps for a unique, creative tree growing in our wonderful lace world.
Looking back through the last five centuries of lace art, the tree motives appeared in lace as soon as the techniques permitted. From the initial simple intepretation in coarse threads the lace trees grew into exceedignly complex and refined forms.
It seems that in the old Italian tradition, the trees, especially the grape vines, appeared as a part of the stories told in skilfully executed fillet, buratto or needle lace techniques. In Flemish and French laces the tree motives were rather rare, being far superseded by flowers and a huge variety of foliage, quintessential for Baroque and Rococo ornamental style. When depicted, the trees were designed in a higly realistic form, with minute details and shadings, which only the finest threads in hands of superbly skilled lacemakers could achieve.
Interestingly, the tree motif took a prominent part in modern lace design of the twentieth century. Perhaps as a reaction to almost complete industrialization of Europe, many lace artists turned to nature for inspiration. It’s been 100 years now, and this trend seems to continue in works of contemporary lace artists. Trees, deeply rooted in mother Earth are symbols of harmonious life, longevity, ancient wisdom and nature-based spirituality. And lace proves again and again to be the most amazing craft allowing each lacemaker, artist and designer to create their own original trees in technique of their choice.
There is one lace tree that is very close to my heart. One of my early designs, the Old Tree, has has been with me throughout my lace career. I planted the seed almost 40 years ago, and watched it to take root, grow, mature and produce many offsprings.
A Story Old Wise Tree is coming soon!
And an Old Wise Tree Free Pattern will follow… I hope that it will inspire a whole new forest of lace trees which will contribute to healthy and beautiful future of our planet.
Alte Spitzen by Marie Schuette
publisher: Richard Carl Schmidt & Co., Berlin, 1914
Twentieth-Century Lace by Ernst-Erik Pfannschmidt
publisher: Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1975
Elena Holéczyová by Pavol Michalides
publisher: Pallas, Bratislava, 1979
Russian Bobbin Lace
publisher: Aurora Art Publishers, Leningrad, 1986
Wiener Spitzen by Hartmut Lang
publisher: Barbara Fay Verlag, Gammelby, 2008
Posted on December 5, 2020
As a lacemaker, who thinks and creates mostly in monochrome, two-dimensional plane, I am always totally amazed how classical music fills the entire space with colours and emotions, and how masterfully it evokes memories and conveys love…
Music, like all other creations, starts as an idea in the head of a single man, who despite all odds, puts it on lined paper to record it for himself, others, and sometimes for posterity. Played by a group of people with curious instruments who have forsaken well paid careers to play notes, the music becomes alive and has the power to move men and mountains. When the sound dissolves into waves which will keep traveling to the edge of the universe, those men – and mountains – will never be the same…
I feel so priviledged to live in times when culture is abundant and great classical musical performances are available either live or recorded. I find a lot of pleasure and inspiration in them.
This month, we are remembering birthdays of several musical geniuses, including two of my favourite Czech (Bohemian) composers:
Vítězslav Novák, born December 5, 1870 – ∞
Bohuslav Martinů, born December 8, 1890 – ∞
According to my understanding of life and death, they became immortal…
Humbly, I offer an image of one of my early works, called in the Czech language “Mezi nebem a zemí”. It by no means compares to the towering art of my birth country compatriots, but at least it expresses a little bit what music means to that small nation in the middle of Europe.