All posts filed under “Lace Art

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Doily Free Zone

lace serie 4

Recently I was invited to take part in a Triennial focused on young lace makers called Doily Free Zone , which will take place in Gandino, Italy, 10-12 June 2016. The project will include an exhibition as well as several workshops and talks with artists. Even though I haven’t been working with the bobbin laces for several years, this series, which I developed at the beginning of my studies in the jewellery department in Munich, is still dear to me and I am happy to get a chance to show some of these pieces again. When looking at the work of the other artists though, I must confess I feel a bit like the Dexter Morgan of the lace artists amongst them. My pieces started with the destruction of handmade laces, which could be interpreted as a rather radical or even disrespectful approach.

Around 10 years ago I had found a cardboard box full with these handmade bobbin laces and doilies in my parents cellar. My stepfather’s mother Lotte had been a big collector of all decorative things and after she died, it was quite a job to clear out several cupboards stuffed with compilations of figurines, fake flowers and embroidered bordures. My mother, who is a truly practical person, had no use for any of this “Ramsch“ and gave it all away – except the box with the handmade bobbin laces. Still, she was more than happy to be rid of these too…

In the studio I took some of the lace doilies out for a closer inspection. I could not see them as something beautiful, actually I felt a bit disgusted. They were yellowed and had brown coffee stains, on some I found remnants of some creatures who had feasted on them, too. But then I remembered that these laces were handmade, somebody or more likely a lot of somebody’s had invested quite an amount of time to make these laces with skillful hands. I had seen pictures of women working on bobbin laces and remembered wondering how on earth someone could manage this chaos of threads and sticks (so called bobbins) to create these complicated patterns. By imagining the hands who had fabricated them, the laces, too, became alive in a way and I felt like I was holding some fragile decaying creatures, more dead than alive. “Better to give them a clean death“ I thought and in an impulse took a pair of scissors and started to cut inside the first lace. I felt a tiny bit nasty, but I was also enjoying myself. When I had cut up several laces into tiny bits and pieces I looked onto a bobbin lace graveyard.

bobbin lace necklace 1detail

Not unlike I did with my previous experiments with other materials I began to play with the lace tatters. I sewed and glued pieces together and cut off other parts again. Very slowly a new form was growing, a three dimensional ornament which was free of the corset of a strict pattern. It took several days to finish the first complex form.
Like the original laces, all the pieces of jewellery I made from the bobbin laces have a filigrane and fragile, but also morbid complexion. They might imply associations of withered leaves, dried blossoms and branches, dead insects or bones of little animals. Some of the pieces I partly coloured with coffee, which gives them a burned grimy look. Others I dyed in the greenish and greyish colours of moss and fungi.


To enhance the dismal aspect I casted my own teeth in resin, and integrated them into some of the brooches. At first glance, they look like dried shriveled flowers, only upon closer inspection do they reveal what they really are. Later I did the same with finger bones (apparently not my own…).
These pieces show a beauty which is still evident but already in a stage of decay. To be honest, I am not entirely sure why I felt I needed to emphasise on this aspect of deterioration in this work. Maybe because the laces themselves were in such bad condition and evoked both attraction and repulsion. Maybe because the traditional handcraft of making bobbin laces will probably disappear from this world entirely. Surely I was influenced by the history of the bobbin lace makers, which is a very sad one: “La decoration de la personne“ it was called in the second half of the 16th century, when the bobbin laces became so popular that the rich and aristocratic decorated themselves with them from face to foot. The bobbin lace makers on the other side were extremely poor and worked under inhuman conditions for several centuries. I can easily picture these women sitting day and night bent over the bobbin lace pillow urging themselves on and on in order to produce enough laces to keep their families alive- aching bashed-up fingers and hungry mouths with yellowed teeth…

bobbin lace brooch 1

Frost Crust 1

This is a German poem of Louise Otto-Peters (1819- 1895), which describes vividly the hard life of the bobbin lace makers:


Seht Ihr sie sitzen am Klöppelkissen
Die Wangen bleich und die Augen rot!
Sie mühen sich ab für einen Bissen,
Für einen Bissen schwarzes Brot!

Großmutter hat sich die Augen erblindet,
Sie wartet, bis sie der Tod befreit –
Im stillen Gebet sie die Hände windet:
Gott schütz’ uns in der schweren Zeit.

Die Kinder regen die kleinen Hände,
Die Klöppel fliegen hinab, hinauf,
Der Müh’ und Sorge kein Ende, keine Ende!
Das ist ihr künftiger Lebenslauf.

Die Jungfrauen all, daß Gott sich erbarme,
Sie ahnen nimmer der Jugend Lust –
Das Elend schließt sie in seine Arme,
Der Mangel schmiegt sich an ihre Brust.

Seht Ihr sie sitzen am Klöppelkissen,
Seht Ihr die Spitzen, die sie gewebt:
Ihr Reichen, Großen – hat das Gewissen
Euch nie in der innersten Seele gebebt?

Ihr schwelgt und prasset, wo sie verderben,
Genießt das Leben in Saus und Braus,
Indessen sie vor Hunger sterben,
Gott dankend, daß die Qual nun aus!

Seht Ihr sie sitzen am Klöppelkissen
Und redet noch schön von Gottvertraun?
Ihr habt es aus ihrer Seele gerissen,
Weil sie Euch selber gottlos schaun!

Seht Ihr sie sitzen am Klöppelkissen
Und fühlt kein Erbarmen in solcher Zeit,
Dann werde Euer Sterbekissen
Der Armut Fluch und all ihr Leid!

lace serie 3

lace serie 8

1 Carina Shoshtary: Untitled, necklace, 2009; Bobbin lace, paint; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
2 Carina Shoshtary: Untitled, necklace, 2008; Bobbin lace, coffee, plastic bead; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
3 Carina Shoshtary: Untitlednecklace (detail), 2008; Bobbin lace, coffee, plastic bead; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
4 Carina Shoshtary: Untitledbrooch, 2010; Bobbin lace, silver, bioresin, paint, stainless steel; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
5 Carina Shoshtary: Untitledbrooch, 2010; Bobbin lace, silver, bioresin, coffee, stainless steel; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
6 Carina Shoshtary: Frost Crust, brooch, 2010; Bobbin lace, silver, bioresin, sand, paint, stainless steel; Photo: Carina Shoshtary:
7 Carina Shoshtary: Untitled, necklace; Bobbin lace, coffee, silver; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
8 Carina Shoshtary: Ice Floes, brooch (detail), 2010; Bobbin lace, silver, bioresin, paint, stainless steel; Photo: Attai Chen

Text edit: Hayley Grafflin