Bobbin lace is a fibre art form in which the artist braids threads together to create delicate compositions.
Lacemakers combine small, repeated patterns—called backgrounds, grounds, or fillings—to create a piece of lace. Because they traditionally make bobbin lace from a single colour of thread, these grounds take on the function of colour by providing 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. I have therefore given them the name lace tessellations or, as my friend Lenka Suchanek has named them, TesseLace—derived from teselace, the Czech 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 good at performing tedious, repetitive tasks with great precision—the programmer just needs to give them 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.