So, now that you know what the White Wolf Fian is, let me tell you about my proposal.
There are eleven key questions one must answer about your proposed project - this helps the Fian understand what your are trying to do (interests n the group are varied - not everyone geeks your geek) and why the project is intermediate to you. Based on that information, the Fian discusses the merits of your proposal and offers suggestions and follow up questions to help improve your project.
Below is the first submission of my proposal, unedited:
1. What are you proposing? Give as many details as possible - are you recreating an artefact, doing experimental archaeology?
I propose to create five 16th century bobbin lace samples (6-8”) from Le Pompe Vol 1 (1557), Vol2 (1560) or Nüw Modelbuch(1561), and a final piece (1m+) chosen by the ultimate recipient from the five samples produced.
2. What is it about this project that appeals to you?
My lace recipient, and project inspiration, has a persona that plays primarily from 1530-1570. My own persona plays in the 1530s. We both geek out over 16th century fashion and textiles. As much as I love garb, I am sewing machine challenged. I have not successfully made any garb for myself (and I’ve tried – that poor linen!). I was recently gifted some beautiful garb by Marie L’Englois, and to repay her kindness I offered to produce some period documentable lace to use in her own clothing. This project gives me a chance to say thank you, and to learn more about period lace design and construction.
3. How long do you expect to take to complete this project?
I expect this project to take up the full year Fian window.
The first lace sampler I made took approximately three weeks to complete six inches at a leisurely pace. That sampler was completed using a providing pattern pricking and stitch instructions. As this was my first learning piece, I am confident I could complete the same pattern today with greater speed. I intend to give myself more leeway for each of the new sampler pieces, to the tune of four weeks, in order to incorporate the new techniques to be learned, the interpretation of what techniques to use and to create the interpreted prickings for each piece. – 5 samples, 20 weeks
I am also using the 4wk/6” timeline against the 1m length. – 26.5 weeks
The remaining 5.5 weeks would be used towards documentation.
4. Why is this project going to be a stretch for you? What will you be learning? What is the risk of failure?
My previous foray into lace making involved a Torchon sampler. Torchon is considered a good place to start learning bobbin lace, as it is simpler and many concepts and stitches can be carried over to other styles. The lace pattern woodcuts found in Le Pompe and Nüw Modelbuch don’t use the mesh grounds common in Torchon, but much more plaiting (Guipure style). The additional stretch is that the period woodcuts are just representations of the final product; there are no prickings or instructions provided. It requires the worker to interpret the woodcut to either create their own pricking or to weave freehand (in the interest of repeatable symmetry, I would create a pricking). It also requires the worker to interpret what stitches use to create the pattern. There are a few examples of modern recreations that experiment with how to reproduce the patterns. They include attempts to use the same number of bobbins from start to finish, hiding extra threads when they are not needed (thicker areas, sometimes producing unsightly thread bunching in the back where bobbin pairs are carried around); the adding and removing of bobbins as the pattern widens and narrows (final product looks neater); and whether or not sewings were used to join pieces, and if so, where in the pattern to employ them.
Interpreting a pattern representation, instead of following a pattern as step by step instructions is completely new to me.
One risk of failure is misinterpreting the woodcuts to create pieces that look nothing like the intended pattern. Another has to do with time. It is quite possible, depending on pattern complexity, that the 1m length may take longer than the 26.5 weeks I’ve allotted. This would cut into my documentation time. I am fully committed to producing the full length for my recipient, even if it pushes me past the Fian window.
5. What do you hope to learn or what skills do you hope to improve?
I hope to successfully learn how to interpret and reproduce lace from a woodcut. I also expect to expand upon the number of stitches I already know how to perform.
6. What is your basis of knowledge in this area that leads you to think you will be successful? Do you have previous experience with this particular craft, or have you done a similar type of work in another medium? What research have you done?
My previous experience with bobbin lacemaking has been with Torchon style patterns. The patterns in Le Pompe and Nüw Modelbuch aren’t a huge leap from Torchon in terms of stitches used. The interpretation of the woodcuts are going to be the most difficult thing. There are several resources that have experimented with recreating the patterns and prickings (Le Pompe, 1559: Patterns for Venetian Bobbin Lace by Santina M. Levey; Fascinating Bobbin Lace by Claire Burkhard; laceioli (international organization of lace, inc.) forums and study groups) – I hope to use these as a launchpad to create my samples.
7. Tell us how your project fits into the medieval world? What date, location, social class, etc. would your work have been found in? This is your chance to tell the Fian all about your research and what is unique (or very everyday) about what you are doing. Our experience has been that each challenge has been unique and at least some of the Governing Body will know little about your area of expertise. Now is your chance to educate them.
The earliest pattern books for bobbin lace are Le Pompe and Nüw Modelbuch. Le Pompe was first published in 1557 Venice, while Nüw Modelbuch was published in 1561 Zurich. According to translators, Nüw Modelbuch contains a statement that the author has been teaching lacemaking in Zurich for twelve years, and that the craft was brought from Venice by merchants twenty-five years earlier in 1536.
As the product is time intensive, and the materials ranging from linen thread, gilt thread, metal and silk, the end product was likely out of reach for all but the upper classes. Elaborate lace can be seen worn in portraits (most portraits document needle laces such as reticella, pattern books found as early as 1587). I’ve yet to identify bobbin lace in a portrait from this time. I’m still hoping to find something in my research.
8. What methods are you using? The Order expects that medieval and renaissance methods will be used wherever possible, with exceptions made to substitute extremely expensive or dangerous materials, or to meet safety standards. Articles made for purely SCA usage (e.g. armour) are not acceptable unless they are made using appropriate medieval techniques and styles.
In order to make the length of lace required for the final product, I need a roller pillow instead of a lap cookie. Prior to submitting my intentions for White Wolf, I began construction on a roller insert pillow that will use period materials for the roller (wooden dowel, tightly packed wool fabric to hold the pins, canvas cover). The support for the roller will use fewer period materials (the sloping pillow will be made from foam with a wool pad and canvas cover. It is less important to use period materials here as this surface is not actively used in the production of lace, just a place to rest the bobbins when not in use). I don’t consider this pillow within the scope of my WWF proposal.
The fibers for my lace samples will be made from linen thread. I hope to make the final 1m piece from silk. I would like to use my current stash of bobbins and pins, which are commercially made.
9. Why do you think you have a reasonable chance of succeeding? Do you have previous experience doing this kind of work, or related experience that can be translated to this project?
I do believe I have a reasonable chance of success. The only experience I can take forward into this project is the Torchon lace I’ve made in the past.
10. Have you allowed yourself enough time, taking into consideration real-life obligations?
It’ll be tight but I have faith in myself and Gantt charts.
11. Are you sufficiently focused? Do you need to expand the scope of your project to cover more areas and make it a real challenge?
I sincerely believe this is challenging enough.
Welcome to the SCA blog of Lady Jane Caldwell. Lady Jane plays in 1534 and is interested in early period lace. Lady Jane hails from the Barony of Skraeling Althing in Ealdormere. Lady Jane is also a clothes whore who will wear clothing from multiple periods to either feel pretty or feel comfortable.