Broadening the Palette for Bobbin Lace: A Combinatorial Approach

Veronika Irvine
Proceedings of Bridges 2012: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2012)
Pages 191–198 Regular papers


In Bobbin Lace, a pattern is divided into regions by shape, each region filled with a texture. Since Bobbin Lace is generally made with a single colour of thread (black, white or ecru), the textures take on the role of colour to provide interest and shading. Using a combinatorial approach, I will look at one aspect of Bobbin Lace and examine how many unique textures are possible for a specified number of grid points. I will compare the results to textures currently known and used in Bobbin Lace. In the process, I hope to rediscover some of the more complicated textures that have been lost over time as well as identify some new textures which may be of use to modern Bobbin Lace artists. Bobbin Lace provides a very high level of control over the position of threads in a material. It is hoped that by increasing the palette of possible textures, the results may also prove useful to electronic textile manufacturing or fabric designed for a specific purpose such as medical prostheses.