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Ada Lovelace and the Analytical Engine

Stumpwork

This is my Royal School of Needlework Future Tutor module in stumpwork.

This is an original design depicting a fanciful interpretation of Ada, Lady Lovelace operating the Analytical Engine. As a female mathematician of the 1840’s, this composition celebrates the ‘Mother’ of computers. The Analytical Engine, she wrote, “weaves algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves.”

I’ve fully exploited artistic license in depicting the machine she worked with. The Analytical Engine remained a vision, until Lovelace’s notes became one of the critical documents to inspire Alan Turing’s work on the first modern computers in the 1940s.

I researched the styles of the early Victorian era, including clothes, underwear, hairstyles, machinery and commercial art of the time, to remain as accurate as possible.

Contemporary paintings show Ada as a woman of fashion with a highly decorative style of hair and clothes - which I thought perfect for stumpwork. I then gave her a dynamic ‘arms outstretched’ stance.

The font used for ‘ADA’ (on large cogs) was designed in 1840.

There are a range of textures used, particularly in the background cogs. The ones furthest back are organza, in the middle distance silk, and those in the forefront, leather. Edges use tarnished pearl purl and gold twist. There are also real metal cogs from watch parts used as embellishments.

Ada’s clothes are made from Egyptian cotton (knickerbockers), red/blue shot silk (as in the portrait) for the dress, organza veil and cuffs, kid leather boots and bead buttons, as well as needlelace giving a variety of texture. Her hairstyle is created using smooth stitches and ringlets. The hair ornaments and bracelets create further texture.

 

Buttonhole scallops edge the hem and collar
Slips were made mostly using a single strand of DMC , and applied invisibly.


A needlelace slip was shaped to fit the torso and separate sleeves in double Brussels. The over-skirt uses corded Brussels, Blomkamp no 9, plus a buttonhole scallop hem, and applied.
The decorative flower in her hair is a buttonhole slip, created and plunged in place with beads in the centre. The band is fine Elizabethan twist.