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Applied Armenian Needlelace

Sat, Oct 16 / 12:30–2:30 pm ET

Join MAD Artist Studios resident Emma Welty for an intensive online workshop dedicated to the century-old practice of Armenian needle lace made with simply a needle and thread. Learn the knotting techniques for creating lace patterns that can be used to upcycle clothing, adorn household textiles, or embellish other creative projects. With practice, the skills learned in this workshop can also be used to create more complicated needle-lace patterns and master more difficult techniques.

Made with lightweight and commonly found materials, Armenian needle lace is a craft that has survived the forced displacement of many generations of Armenians. Over the last century, the craft of Armenian needle lace has been painstakingly preserved within communities of the Armenian-American diaspora through intergenerational instruction, how-to books, exhibitions, and, in recent years, video tutorials.


  • Choose a piece of cloth that you can easily sew through and a needle with a big enough eye for a bold thread (such as an embroidery needle – do NOT use tapestry needles, as they are often too thick to pass through machine-woven cloth).
  • Sewing machine thread is very fine and not the easiest to see, and most embroidery floss is too loosely spun. Ideally, you will use a pearl cotton with a tight twist and a bright color you can see easily.
  • While ideally this lace can be used to ornament clothes and precious textiles, you may want to start on a piece of cloth or garment that you don’t mind making mistakes on.
  • Emma will lead the class demos with this thread and a standard embroidery needle on plain weave cotton muslin.
  • Emma encourages participants to use a piece of lightweight cloth with a hem, such as a bandana, t-shirt, handkerchief, or a piece of cloth with a rolled or machine sewn hem. You can work with a raw edge, but it’s a bit more challenging without a hem.

Ticket holders will receive an email 24 hours in advance of the program with instructions for accessing the workshop on Zoom.


Emma Welty’s research, weaving, and lacemaking practice interrogates her Armenian identity after two generations of assimilation in the United States. Welty's current line of research and writing explores the translations and mistranslations of Armenian lace as it has moved throughout the diaspora, lending itself to further gestures of material translation in the quest for preservation. During her MAD residency, Welty will explore Armenian lace knotting and the role its portability played in saving the tradition during moments of violent exodus, which echoes loudly today. Welty earned her BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and her MFA in Visual Arts and MA in Art History from Purchase College, SUNY. She has taught at Westchester Community College, Purchase College, and the Textile Arts Center.

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