Date Presented

Spring 5-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Computer Science

First Advisor

Chelsea Tinklenberg, MFA

Second Advisor

Danny Cline, PhD

Third Advisor

Laura Kicklighter, PhD


The intricate monochromatic embroidery that graced the collars and cuffs of Renaissance nobility and domestic materials from that era has been little studied beyond the historical costuming and crafting communities. This style, known as blackwork, for it was traditionally done in black silk on white linen, exemplifies how complex and visually-appealing designs can arise from repetition of simple forms, often demonstrating the fractal property of self-similarity. Though most blackwork patterns are not true fractals, fractal analysis offers a means of objectively quantifying their complexity and new lens through which to examine this embroidery technique. The purpose of this study was to look for trends that could be used to evaluate the historical accuracy of blackwork patterns. Images of historical patterns from the Renaissance period, historically-inspired, and modern patterns were gathered from eight published books on blackwork. The fractal dimensions of these patterns were calculated using FracLac, a fractal analysis plugin for the ImageJ software. Subsequent statistical analyses revealed several significant differences between the fractal dimensions of patterns for fillings, borders, and complete projects. Though there was some variation, a trend noted was that Renaissance-era patterns had a fractal dimension around 1.75.