Carol D’Silva and her mum, Nelinda Da Silva, while giving final touches to her bridal gown.
She may be a Goan engineer by profession, but when Carol D’Silva recently got married to Mark Wiemers in Toowoomba-Queensland and wanted something unique and special, she turned to her passion: fashion designing and handmade bobbin lace.
Not only did Carol design and sow both her bridal gowns – one for the ceremony and one for the reception – she even worked in conjunction with lace-makers from 15 countries to bring her design to life.
“Much like lace, a marriage is a union – an intertwining of love, dreams, emotions, and families. What better occasion than this to showcase our passion and love for this craft,” said Carol.
“While I always envisioned lace being the central theme of my wedding dress, I could never have imagined it coming together in such an extraordinary and unique display, well surpassing all my expectations.”
Carol and her mother, Nelinda, have been weaving intricate designs, teaching students and learning different techniques in Bobbin Lace for almost two decades.
Carol explained that Bobbin Lace, one of the two major types of handmade lace, is made by twisting and braiding threads that are wound on bobbins.
“These bobbins held in hand, help in manipulating the threads around pins placed deliberately in a predetermined pattern. The pattern and pins themselves are placed on a pillow, hence the term pillow lace,” informed Carol.
“We have been fortunate enough to be invited to attend numerous lace conferences across Europe, showcasing our unique designs, participating in fashion shows, representing my birth state Goa, India and even being broadcast on Portuguese and Spanish national television! I have also showcased some of my designs at fashion shows.”
INTERTWINING OF GLOBAL LACE-MAKERS
Carol said she cherished the beautiful friendships they have built with the “incredible family of lace-makers.”
“While not everyone could attend my wedding, they each sent us intricately woven pieces of lace representing their love and best wishes. These pieces were from 15 countries – Austria, Australia, Poland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Croatia, Russia, France, Switzerland, Canada, India and one by my mother depicting Goa.” A book on the ‘Bobbin Lace Wedding Dress’ will soon be made available about the journey and about each country that contributed.
“The ceremony dress trail was 3.5 metres long from the waist and 2.5 metres max width with fully handmade Bobbin Lace. It was just over a year in the making, amidst Covid restrictions and global logistics.”
“Each unique piece, made with intricate detail and hours of hard work, showcased the heritage and technique of each country. Each of these pieces of lace was woven into the wedding trail as a display of love, friendship, unity, patience and diligence,” added Carol.
She said all 15 lace-makers were provided with the brief to design and make the national flower or nature depicting their country, using lace techniques and threads from their countries.
“This way, it showed the uniqueness and showcased the art and techniques of the maker and country. Every country has its own style and methods that have passed through generations. I received 15 ovals and 1 diamond-shaped handmade bobbin lace to embed into the larger lace trail. The lace on the border of my veil was also handmade bobbin lace and my headpiece was a gift made by a lace-maker from Poland,” said Carol.
“The second dress was a full handmade embroidery dress for the reception.”
LACED WITH PASSION
Carol said her handmade Bobbin Lace story started almost two decades ago, initially an interest, and then a passion.
“I learnt the art of Bobbin Lace as a 6-year-old from my mother, Nelinda Da Silva, founder of Nel’s Creations. What initially started as my mum’s hobby in crotchet, stitching household linen and baby apparel for family and friends, quickly transformed into a passion for all things needle and thread, specifically Bobbin Lace.”
“The vision was a small family-owned business, but passion and hard work transformed it into one with global reach, with invites to international exhibitions, national prizes, industrial-sized orders and employment to locals.”
Carol was recognised and awarded for being the youngest participant to represent her country in Bobbin Lacemaking in Italy in 2004 and was invited to study at a lace school in Italy.
“I took my passion a step further by pursuing a degree in fashion designing and styling elaborate designer clothes on the Gold Coast after completing a Mechatronics degree.”
Carol is now keen to combine lace, sustainable fashion and technology, “to enhance lace design and keep this art relevant in the future.” She is also working towards educating people on handmade bobbin lace, its heritage and the traditions of each country. You can follow her journey on facebook, Instagram or her website (www.caroldsilva.com) for more information.
Carol D’Silva designed, sewed her gown with handmade bobbin lace contributions from:
AUSTRALIA: Lindy de Wijn
AUSTRIA: Emma de Ro
BELGIUM: Anne Dumon
BULGARIA: Bistra Pisancheva
CANADA: Louise Senecal
CROATIA: Slavica Kucar
FRANCE: Rosanna and Patrick Derache
GOA-INDIA: Nelinda Da Silva (mum)
POLAND: Ewa Szpila and Beata Rząca
PORTUGAL: Milene Alves
RUSSIA: Mikhail Paryshev-Gorbunov
SLOVAKIA: Jana Frajkorová
SPAIN: Dolores Lema and Lara Pasantes Campaña
SWITZERLAND: Mira Fidanza
Carol D’Silva and her husband, Mark Wiemers, on their wedding at Toowoomba-Queensland.