Veronika Irvine & Lenka Suchanek

Graduate Student in Computer Science and Fibre Artist
University of Victoria
Victoria, British Columbia

Bobbin lace, a 500-year-old art form, features delicate patterns formed by alternating braids.

Veronika is a PhD candidate in computer science and an amateur lacemaker. She developed a mathematical model to describe bobbin lace tessellations as (D,ζ) where D is a 2-regular directed graph embedded on a torus and ζ is a mapping from the vertices of D to a braid word. From this model, Veronika has generated thousands of original patterns.

Lenka, a self-taught lacemaker and designer, brings the antique tradition of handmade bobbin lace to life in pictures, sculptures and wearable art. Specializing in metal lace, she uses fine wires of copper, bronze, steel, and precious metals to create unique pieces that are traditional and modern.

Waves - Offering to the Moon
Waves - Offering to the Moon
40 x 36 x 9 cm
stainless steel wire, shell, driftwood cedar frame

"Waves" was designed and created by Lenka using a tessellation pattern generated algorithmically by Veronika.

Lenka: "I had a beautiful frame made from old growth, driftwood red cedar and I needed a pattern that would look like the waves of the Pacific Ocean...

"The model is an incredible source of designs - every graph has so many variations for working the stitches and each combination results in a different pattern. I love the experimental nature of the work. This is exactly what I was imagining! Now I want to live and work forever, because I will never run out of patterns.

"I perceive this piece as the beginning of truly Canadian lace, breaking free from Old World patterns and setting out on its own, independent journey."

56 x 56 cm
DMC mercerized cotton thread

These 4 pieces, designed and worked by Veronika, illustrate the use of reflective symmetry to narrow the search for aesthetically interesting patterns.

To date, the approximately 500 traditional patterns used in lace have been discovered through trial and error and extensive hands-on experience - a time consuming process. By applying an intelligent search algorithm to discover the D in (D,ζ), over 100,000 workable lace tessellations have been found. We continue to look for ways to expand this search.

A search filter was applied to focus on patterns with a high degree of reflective symmetry. This filter made it possible to expand the search, in a reasonable running time, from graphs with 20 vertices to graphs with over 100 vertices.