Friday, November 30, 2012

Lacemaking, and what we can learn from spiders...

The art of making lace in one form or another has existed from the earliest ages. There are scriptural references to various web-like fabrics, which were made of rude construction, no doubt, but whose general characteristics were identical with those productions of modern skill which have for centuries been known as lace. Homer and other ancient writers constantly mention net-works of fancifully embroidered materials; gold thread-work was nown to thee Romans, and as Egyptian robes of state are depicted upon the tombs of the earlier dynasties as being fashioned from a looped net-work or crochet..."

-The Art of Modern Lace-Making (Butterick Publishing Company, 1891)

In an old Greek story, Arachne (uh-rak-nee) loved to weave. Her weaving was so beautiful and perfect that the goddess Athena got jealous. To punish Arachne, the goddess turned Arachne into a spider. But Arachne still loved to weave, and continued to do so, as a spider...

So, here's my question for the day... if all spiders know how to spin webs (and let's assume all do), why don't they consolidate their efforts, and some work on spinning webs, while others gather the prey? Why don't they work together?

Lace and silk from Metro Textiles

Pictured above, is a fabric combo on its way to becoming  something unique for me, inspired by a dream I had, an unrealized idea from a client I had last year, and the "Spiders Alive!" exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History.

A spider uses its own body measurements to make its web, using a very practical and ergonomic design process. The spider starts with the most difficult part of construction -- the first thread, and creates an extraordinary silken net, often as beautiful as it is functional. It is also abolutely unique and personal.

We work to create our own intricate handmade patterns, using yarn, strings or thread and fabric, and our own human hands. There is something very natural about this. Something very real and tactile... Individuality is important. Personal expression, the need to share beauty, and this sense of accomplishment are vital.

There is something so unique and special about a spider's own ergonomic study that leads him/her to design and create their own custom web; it speaks so beautifully to our unique desire to create beautifully customized garments and furnishings for ourselves. It explodes from our souls in even the most dismal of environments and circumstances. It is a necessary communication, and, as much as we need to create, the things we create NEED to be created.

I say this to reinforce the following point: There is only ONE you. If you are creative, honor that fact with what you create.  Listen to your body; the way it wants to feel, be embraced by wonderful colors, textures, and variety.  If you want to celebrate that in the ones you love, make things for them, too.

Ready, set...  



  1. "There is something very natural about this."

    Not to me. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy garment construction and am getting to the point where I can do something with it. But it's definitely a learned skill.

    New York Sewer

    1. Interesting perspective. So what inspired you specifically to create? And to keep trying until you could do it? Did you make/sew/knit/manipulate any fabrics or fibers as a child?

  2. You don't see brown lace very often, but that's an eye-catching rich chocolate brown. Can't wait to see what you do with it. Brown has always been one of my favorite colors to use in decorating. It plays nicely with a lot of other colors.

    I can tat with a needle but haven't done it in years. I should dig out my supplies & give myself a refresher course.


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