For lace artist Laura Friesel, working patiently for hours intertwining fine threads to create original works of art she calls “lace paintings” has a genetic component. She comes from a family where the talent for lace making has come down over generations from her English great-grandmother and great-aunts to her mother and now to her.
As a 13 year old, Laura begged her mother to teach her the skills to make the Milanese lace that even at that age she found fascinating. Laura’s mother enjoyed the peaceful rhythms of lace making and specialized in French Torchon which is a practical lace suitable for every day use. Laura learned the basic lace making skills, and then college at the University of Washington, a PhC in Comparative Literature specializing in Russian Symbolist literature and a career as a Russian language translator for the Air Force took her in other directions.
She marks the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 as her point of reentry into lace making. On maternity leave from her translator’s job for the Air Force, she realized that the changed political environment, while wonderful for world peace, meant the elimination of her job. So she returned to her original tutor, her mother, who learned her skills from one of the most prominent lace makers in Milan, Italy, and resumed her studies.
Laura went on to study with Holly Van Sciver of Ithaca, NY, who taught her the very correct British techniques for making a wide variety of bobbin lace. In an interesting connection, Laura’s lace making family worked in the Midlands of England in the 17th and 18th centuries before descendants came to America. More than talent has been handed down to Laura; she has a collection of antique lace examples as well as patterns and bobbins which she uses in her work today.