Bobbin lace is a fibre art form in which threads are braided together to form delicate patterns.
Lace pieces are created by combining small, repeated patterns called backgrounds, grounds or fillings. Because bobbin lace is traditionally made from a single colour of thread, these small, repeated patterns take on the role of colour to provide contrast and texture. Taking inspiration from abstract expressionism and the color field movement, I am interested in elevating these patterns from their supporting role and exploring them in depth. To that end, I have given them the name lace tessellations or, as my friend Lenka Suchanek has named them, TesseLace – derived from the Czech word teselace which is the translation of tessellation .
For over 500 years, the art of bobbin lace has been developing and evolving. During this time, lacemakers have relied on extensive hands-on experience combined with trial and error to discover new lace tessellations. This can be a slow, time consuming process. In the modern age, we have the benefit of computers and mathematical discoveries. Computers are extremely good at performing tedious, repetitive tasks with great precision – they just need to be given explicit instructions. Based on this idea, I have developed a mathematical model for bobbin lace and have been using this model to teach the computer to identify lace tessellation patterns.