Sunday, March 25, 2018

A 16th Century Buratto Embroidered Lace: Scholar's Project #4

My Buratto Cupid
The final Scholar's project I presented at Gentle Arts this year is a 16th century embroidered lace in the buratto style.

Buratto is thought to have developed in Italy in the early 16th century. The base for
buratto is a woven net, made upon a particular kind of loom by an experienced weaver, and is then embroidered. Lacis differs only from Buratto in the base, as it uses a netted mesh made with a netting needle one mesh at a time. The embroidery techniques are identical for both styles, and they are usually lumped together in lace history and technique books.

The first published buratto pattern book was written by an Italian named Alessandro Paganino, in 1527. Called simply Burato, it features four quatros (sections) ranging from blank mesh grids in various sizes (which were probably intended for the lacemaker to create her or his own designs) to geometrical patterns to much more complicated patterns for embroidering net. Buratto and filet were generally used for altar cloths, bed-cloths, table linens and wall hangings, and exceedingly rarely do we find it in clothing. Many extant pieces are square in nature and many squares could be joined to produce larger works, or were combined with whitework embroidery, needle lace, bobbin lace and other forms of embroidery.

Paganino's 1527 Burato Cover
When we came back to the SCA (after a hiatus) in 2015, the first event we attended was Seagirt's Summer Tourney which was combined with the Sergeants/Yeoman/Gallant trials that year. There was a contest for Anything Archery: A Picture is Worth 1000 Words that piqued my interest, so I went looking for a representation of archery made for buratto or filet. I knew that classical figures were often seen in period pieces and found a perfect one via Pinterest in the Hermitage Museum in Russia. Unfortunately at that time, the small thumbnail was all that was available, and it wasn't big enough to chart. Eventually I found the pattern that I ended up using, that was in a period style. As time was limited I used interlock canvas, which mimics the buratto mesh. I used a 50/2 linen thread and each square took 8 passes to fill using reprise stitch (one of two main stitches). It's finished with a border of double buttonhole stitches. It took about 40+ hours to complete. I won the contest and it was accepted as a Scholars project. Two more to go!

My Scholar's Projects at Gentle Arts 2018. Photo by Kimberly Grigg.
Download the detailed documentation here:

A Late 16th Century Buratto Embroidered Lace

I am currently practicing more filet embroidery and plan to have some finished pieces by the end of the year.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Dyschefulls of Snowe and Fine Cakes: Scholar's Project #3


Snow with Fine Cakes in a Rosemary Forest.
I presented these Dyshefulls of Snowe and Fine Cakes at the Barony of Seagirt's Yule Revel in December. Although there wasn't enough time to have the project fully assessed at that time, I was able to get the Scholars and the Baron to taste both kinds I made at the event (one with eggs and one without) and then I presented the documentation at Gentle Arts. Interestingly, I found a further three recipes for Snow in the month between Yule and Gentle Arts, and added them to my documentation.

I have a long history with this holiday dish. Years ago, in the late 1980's I entered a dish for the Immaculate Confection contest and for my winning entry I received a book called Christmas Feasts from History by Lorna Sass. In it there was a basic recipe for a late period dessert called Snow. Ever since, I've made the dish frequently (including it in a Trio of Desserts I made for an entry into the Tir Righ Arts & Sciences Championship in 2006) and this time, I spent a lot of time researching the recipe.

It turns out that Snow was a popular late period dessert which I found in at least seven different period recipe collections! One contained two versions, one with the traditional dairy ingredients and one dry snowe without cream. I have found 8 different recipes. Three additional recipes since I had originally submitted this project in December at Yule Revel. Variations of this dessert can be found in several English recipe books, one in French from Liege, one in Middle Dutch and one in German. The recipes are exceedingly similar, most consisting of sweetened, whipped cream with or without egg whites and flavored with rose water and sugar. Several of the recipes include using a sprig of rosemary as a tree in either an apple or a round bread loaf, and then casting the snow upon it to suggest a snowy forest.

This one had eggs in the recipe.
The Fine Cakes are cookie-like desserts made with butter, flour, sugar, eggs and spices and both recipes call for them to be baked upon papers (parchment paper). I found two different recipes for these and choose to redact the one from Gervase Markham's  The English Huswife (1615):

To make fine cakes; take a pottle of fine flour, and a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, a little mace and a good store of water to mingle the flour into a stiff paste, and a good season of salt and so knead it, and roll out the cake thin and bake them on papers.

I was unable to get an entire pottle (about 8 cups) into my redaction, but they turned out fairly well anyway. I cut most into a trencher shape, which the other recipe suggested and the rest into eight pointed Tir Righ stars. The recipe made over eight dozen little cakes.

You can download my documentation here:

Dyschefulls of Snowe & Fine Cakes

In addition to passing as a Scholar's project, my entry won Best Subtlety at the Yule revel and I received some lovely spices and a tiny salt cellar as a prize. The Immaculate Confection contest remains one of my favorite contests to enter. Next year, I am going to try something completely different and have already started the research for that. Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Lace Cuff - Scholar's Project #2

Bobbin Lace Linen Cuff
This past January, I presented three projects for the Barony of Seagirt's Scholar's trials. All were well received and accepted. The first of which was my bobbin lace cuff that was originally made for entry into Tir Righ's Arts & Sciences Championship way back in 2006. Unlike most contests, Scholar's applicants are encouraged to submit projects they have done in the past. So, I dusted off the lace and completely rewrote the documentation. It's amazing just how much things change - there is so much more information available now!

Detail of the bobbin lace cuff of Frances,
Lady Reynell by Robert Peake, 1595
The cuff I chose to make would have been in fashion from the late sixteenth-century to almost the mid seventeenth-century. It is a plain band with pointed bobbin lace, similar to the cuff of Lady Reynell (detail to the right).

The lace for the cuffs that I have made is adapted from a design in Le Pompe, 1559 Patterns for Venentian bobbin lace. This is one of the earliest pattern books for bobbin lace and was printed in Venice by Giovanni-Battista and Marchio Sessa, brothers who printed books for a publisher named Matio Pagano. In the introduction to the modern version of the book, author Santina M. Levey remarks that he was “... one of the most prolific publishers of pattern books”.

This pattern had the shape I was looking for complete with a pointed or scalloped edge, which many paintings of late sixteenth century clothing show. This pattern contained four repeats, and it was interesting to see that two contained picots, while two did not. Throughout the book, there are a few picots missing from patterns, and though these are mistakes forgotten by the designer, the absence of the picots in two entire repeats of the pattern may simply show the lace-maker two ways of completing the lace.

Original lace pattern from Le Pompe.

I altered the pattern slightly from the original. I wanted more points for the cuff to make it more like the lace I’d seen in paintings, and I did not like the way the thick bands looked between the points. In re-drawing the pattern, I also decided to make the lace stronger by altering one of the plaits and incorporating it into the point.

My altered lace pricking.

Detail of my lace with its tiny picots.
You can download my more detailed documentation here:

A Late Sixteenth-Century Bobbin Lace Edged Cuff

I am generally happy with the way the cuff turned out. The lace is tight, well tensioned and the picots nicely visible for the small size of thread used. One side was cut too close and unravelled a small section, so I fixed as best I could and it is fairly sturdy now - this part will not generally be seen as it is the underside of the cuff. For the next cuff, I will make the lace longer before ending. Though it will hold its shape fairly well, I am looking into how to properly starch the lace so that it will be more stiff before basting to a sleeve. The cuff took approximately 35+ hours to complete.