November 6th, 2009

Printperson divina

Studying Venetian lace

When I have seen authentic examples of historical Venetian lace on display in glass cases in the lace museum in Burano, or in San Marco, I have been dumbfounded by its beauty and complexity. All those little bridges, rosettes, and picots linking together swirling flowers and leaves. I've been tempted to draw lace, but I never had the opportunity to get really close to a piece of antique Venetian lace. Also, lace has a bad name in printmaking because of all those printmakers who pressed lace into softground in the wake of "new Ways of Gravure", so that history discouraged me from taking lace seriously. Recently, I was out at Burano with a visitor and I noticed that the lace museum is closed until next spring for restoration. But yesterday, I remembered that we live near the Centro Studi del Tessuto at Ca' Mocenigo, so this morning I went to the history of textile library to learn about historical Venetian lace techniques. The librarian gave me some books and I paged through them, learning the vocabulary, taking notes. Now that I have identified some pieces in the museum's collection that I would like to look at, I will go back next week to examine real 16th and 17th century lace. I am also interested in the 16th and 17th century books of lace patterns (engraved, etched, woodcuts), so I will eventually seek them out at the Correr and Marciana.