Sunday, September 25, 2011

Great Story Behind Incredible Lace

click to enlarge

As I looked into the gallery at OutNorth

my eye was drawn immediately to the lace. 

It was incredible.  I'm not a connoisseur, but when something is this good, even I notice.   My camera slipped itself out of my pocket and into my hand and started trying to  capture the exquisitely detailed beauty of this lace.  My camera and I were only moderately successful.  Between the light, the detail, the reflections, and how high up on the wall some of the lace was, and no tripod, this is the best we could do. (I saved the top photo in higher resolution than normal, so click on it for details, but I didn't want to make this page too slow to open, so the others are lower res.)  If you're in the Anchorage area, you can go see these masterpieces yourself.

Nothing was up about the exhibit except the labels with the name Beverly Bronner and descriptions like "Bobbin Lace (Belgian Binche), 140 cotton."  What did that mean?  I found Ryan who gave me the email of curator, Keren Lowell.  And she promptly sent me this reply:

"The lace was made by Beverly Bronner. She lives in Anchorage, and is an incredible person. She's older, and she got it into her head to learn how to make bobbin lace, which in its simplest form involves tracking the interlacings of dozens of little tapered spools of thread.

"The beginnings of the lace are pinned to a special pillow, which keeps the order of the threads in place while it is being made. Coarse lace is difficult to make even for someone used to the complex patterns of weaving, knitting and crochet.

"Beverly took a workshop in basic Belgian lacemaking techniques, and then taught herself how to make the work you saw in the gallery. It is made with the finest (thinnest) cotton thread made (140 count).  [For an interesting history on thread count, see Anichini.]  The piece that had a border of swans intertwined with lace took her three years to make. It was all done by hand, and as far as I can tell, is indistinguishable from lace made by masters.

"After she made the lace, she had to locate the cloth for the center. A place in Belgium sells the antique fabric, but would not sell it to her until they saw the lace in person, so she flew to Belgium to gain their approval.
             This piece was about 4 inches across
"After she bought the fabric, she had to find a lacemaker who knew how to stitch the lace to the fabric, and she found a woman in her 90s who agreed to do the work (for no pay). The rest of the pieces in the gallery have equally interesting stories, and Beverly would be glad to relay them. She is amazing. She just took up weaving and her first woven piece was something a weaver with several years of experience would be proud of.

So, there you have it.  Lucky folks in Anchorage can see this incredible work for themselves.  OutNorth is on Primrose and DeBarr (3800) - kittycorner from Costco DeBarr.  Their website gives their hours:

Gallery Hours
12-6pm Tues-Fri
and during events

 Thanks Beverly for sharing your passion, and to Keren for putting this show together and taking the extra time to give me that background. 

Some people might wonder about my breathless posts, but we have such talented folks in Anchorage who do such amazing things, that there's lots to be breathless about.  And I'm convinced that Scott Schofield, the artistic director, somehow manages to pull a lot of them into OutNorth.  And I tend not to write about things I didn't like.  There's enough good stuff to keep me busy.

By the way, the other fabric work in the exhibit was also worth looking at.  Here's a scarf by Clydene Fitch. 

And a yarn basket offered by Sherri Rogers.

1 comment:

  1. Exquisite! Thanks for sharing this. I'm a knitter and I can't imagine doing something so incredibly finely-detailed as this, on top of all the additional effort she put into getting it just right. Brava!


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