Practical lace

Practical Lace

A forewarning to history-buffs: this is not an account of the origin, development and evolution lace-making through the ages. That would require compiling a timeline of roughly 6 centuries worth of styles and techniques which have emerged from around the globe. Instead, we’re interested in how contemporary artists, Cal Lane( and Myriam Dion(, are applying the intricate aesthetic of lace to unexpected objects, challenging our definition of the craft by substituting materials or modifying techniques. Not only do we love the resulting unique artworks they create, we also have great respect for their dedication to masterfully honing and manipulating their craft.


The Powerhouse Museum held an inspirational exhibition in 2011 called ‘Love Lace’, showcasing the work of 130 contemporary artists, designers and craftspeople who have brought lace-making into the 21st C, and the unique approaches each have taken to adapt it to society’s needs and desires today. It’s no wonder there are so many wonderful modern examples produced all around the world—lace has a beguiling beauty, and is timelessly enchanting. Image above: Ingrid Morley (, exhibitor in Love Lace; Photo: Sotha Bourn. © Powerhouse Museum, Sydney 

On that note, we segue to Canadian artist Cal Lane, whose intricate open-work structures are cut from once robust industrial objects like oil tanks. Lane’s work demonstrates that even when applied to these typically masculine everyday products, the feminity of the designs overwrites the original purpose of the piece. Practical objects become precious. The wheelbarrow sculptures in particular are like regal monuments celebrating ordinary acts of manual labour — a trophy for the virtuous weekend warrior. Images below © Cal Lane


Myriam Dion is known for her incredible paper-cut artworks, particularly those cut freehand with a scalpel from the front page of newspapers. While not at all what one would consider a typical lace-maker, her work falls into the definition of lace as an openwork fabric—or structure—whose pattern of spaces is as important as the solid areas. Dion reproduces patterns and shapes you would normally see in traditional needlework lace, best exemplified in her 2013 installation, ‘For small fires’. The incredibly detailed and intricate artwork is a photograph of a shop facade, adorned with thousands of small burn-holes creating a lace-like effect. Images below © Myriam Dion 


Dion’s works cut into the pages of newspapers are equally awe-inspiring. Artfully cut around and into imagery and headlines, the negative spaces reveal and hide aspects of the original newspaper design and create a new story. Her work speaks to the uncertainty of newspaper journalism’s future in the digital age, and provides an innovative and dignified way of re- purposing yesterdays news. Images below © Myriam Dion 


How inspiring to see such mundane everyday objects now refashioned and invigorated by the power of lace.