bobbin's art


With a little help from the boys I’ve gotten a lot farther on my little Van Gogh sunflower. I had the thought that to make the curvy strips for the swirls I should cut on the bias. It probably would have shredded if the back didn’t already have fusible web on it, but it worked well.

I am now out of the “scary messy” stage and into the “I wish I didn’t have to go to work so I could stay home and finish this” stage.

Oh well, the weekend is almost here, and I’ll be off!


An Overview of Bobbin Lace

Bobbin lace is a lace textile made by braiding and twisting lengths of thread, which are wound on bobbins to manage them. As the work progresses, the weaving is held in place with pins set in a lace pillow, the placement of the pins usually determined by a pattern or pricking pinned on the pillow.

Bobbin lace is also known as pillow lace, because it was worked on a pillow, and bone lace, because early bobbins were made of bone or ivory.

Bobbin lace is one of the two major categories of handmade laces, the other being needlelace, derived from earlier cutwork and reticella.

Ok, I’ll admit it… I geek out over the history of textiles.  In a lot of ways, it’s the history of how women not only dressed, but made their livings within a society that gave them very little options.  And yep, bobbin lace was one of those ways.

Bobbin lace evolved from passementerie or braid-making in 16th-century Italy. Genoa was famous for its braids, hence it is not surprising to find bobbin lace developed in the city. It traveled along with the Spanish troops through Europe. Coarse passements of gold and silver-wrapped threads or colored silks gradually became finer, and later bleached linen yarn was used to make both braids and edgings.

When hand lace-making was a major industry it was common for girls to start going to a lace-making school at about 5 years old and focus completely on lace until graduating at about 16 years old after making a “senior project” of sorts that included about 1000 bobbins. Don’t feel bad if it takes an afternoon or two to catch on.

The making of bobbin lace was easier to learn than the elaborate cutwork of the 16th century, and the tools and materials for making linen bobbin lace were inexpensive. There was a ready market for bobbin lace of all qualities, and women throughout Europe soon took up the craft which earned a better income than spinning, sewing,weaving or other home-based textile arts. Bobbin lace-making was established in charity schools, almshouses, and convents.

In the 17th century, the textile centers of Flanders and Normandy eclipsed Italy as the premiere sources for fine bobbin lace, but until the coming of mechanization hand-lacemaking continued to be practiced throughout Europe, suffering only in those periods of simplicity when lace itself fell out of fashion.

Bobbin lace may be made with coarse or fine threads. Traditionally it was made with linen, silk, wool, or, later, cotton threads, or with precious metals. Today it is made with a variety of natural and synthetic fibers and with wire and other filaments.

Elements of bobbin lace may include toile or toilé (clothwork), réseau (the net-like ground of continuous lace), fillings of part laces, tapes, gimp, picots, tallies, ribs and rolls. Not all styles of bobbin lace include all these elements.


After I got home from work last night, I started painting Bobbin’s features for my appliquéd parts of “Bobbin, the Bold.” I tried my Inktense pencils first, but I wasn’t happy with the results. This morning I started over with my old favorites, Tsukinenko inks.

Like Inktense pencils and paint, it’s easy to build up color with inks, but you do need to heat set it with an iron. Also like paint, you can mix your own colors.

Though Bobbin is an orange and white tabby, using straight Tangerine orange was far too vivid. I mixed Tangerine, Tuscan Beige and a drop of Sand to achieve “Bobbin Orange.”

Once the orange parts were inked, I added several drops of Lemon Yellow to get a nice amber gold to do his eyes.

For his nose and toes I used a very dry Fantastix brush with Rose Pink, starting where I wanted those sections the darkest, and rubbing the brush into the center to get a nice shading.

Karma illustrates another beauty to using these non-toxic, water soluble inks (properly capped when not loading a brush). They dry very quickly, and Karma isn’t likely to step into a color she could track all over the house, or get sticky paint all over her fur. Of course, she could still spill an uncapped bottle with that muscular tail she has.

My desk still has a lot of black “distress marks” from the time I lost a whole uncapped bottle of black ink.


Today is a video of someone making bobbin lace.  It’s kind of mesmerizing.  In case you’re interested, there’s some very long tutorials on youtube (like an hour and a half), but for our interests, I figured just watching it happen was pretty darn cool.  I like how it’s almost a variation on braiding.

I’m working on my illuminated script for “Bobbin, the Bold.” I found the perfect alphabet for my large letters in a Dover clip art book, but I couldn’t print it out to the size I wanted because it loses sharpness as I enlarge it. I’m tracing the largest readable size I could make it, and then I’ll enlarge my tracing until I get it the size I want.

As much as I wanted to get right back to working on “Vincent”, I needed to solidify my concept for the QuiltFest Challenge.

Besides using the three challenge fabrics, there must be a star block somewhere on the quilt, one element must extend off the edge of the quilt, and you have to use text in some way.

I write on (and draw on) my quilts all the time as a design element, and after taking the recent class with Esterita Austin in Daytona, I knew how I wanted to do on “Bobbin, the Bold.”

The class I took a couple of years ago with Esterita involved painting on organza, which looks especially good in metallics. What better way to do my storybook quilt than as an illuminated manusctipt?

Along with the painted organza, this will allow me to have all kinds of fun with decorative stitching and embellishments, and it should come together pretty quickly.


Okay Yarn Friends of Tumblr: I need to sell this Majacraft Pioneer double tredle wheel. It comes with the following:

Extra bobbins (plastic, perfect for setting yarn on the bobbin) are usually $20 apiece. SIX BOBBINS included for a value of $120.
Plying tools are solid wood, I bought them as a set from for $20 (a diz, a plying template and a wraps per inch tool.) 
1 yard niddy noddy, never used was purchased a few months ago for $20.
Kate A Go Go Lazy kate purchased from Nancy’s Knit Knacks for $45 

Plus a bunch of hand painted roving from indie dyers. No idea how much but there’s at least 4-5 really pretty braids in there of very pretty and high quality fibers ranging from BFL to silk/merino. I think I might even have some spinning books I can throw in too. Who knows. If it’s spinning related, it’ll probably end up in the box. 

This whole lot of stuff is a great Intro To Wheel Spinning kit and all told would probably cost about $1000 separately. I’m asking $600 plus shipping. Or make me a decent offer. If you’re in or near Las Vegas I can deliver or you can pick it up. 

This trusty little wheel (who I have named Niobe, by the way) is a GREAT starter wheel and has been very well cared for. I just never spin anymore and I need the space in my guest bedroom. 

Friends, will you help me share this so I can sell it to someone who will welcome it with open arms and give it a good home? She’s served me wheel but it’s time to let her go.