Thursday, 20 September 2018

Corner design for lace or embroidery

I found this lovely little corner design for sale in Bruges and bought it along with some other design pieces. I don’t know if it was designed for lace or embroidery but the principles of design are the same. I think the flower motif has been cleverly drawn in an up-sweeping line so that it can be used in a run along the edge of the work and also fills the space in the corner to move seamlessly on to the next run of flowers. In effect there is no need to alter the design for the corner. However, what I find surprising is that it hasn’t been very accurately drawn. The squares lines dividing the motif cut off the leaves at different points, and the dots around the outer border are not evenly spaced. Also the central block of the design seems to include a section of acanthus leaves that don’t bear much relation to the roses round the border and appear to have been cut from another design. Nor do the design lines align with those round the border. I think this little design must have been taken from the designer’s sketchbook and it was probably a preliminary drawing to try out a few ideas before the production of a commercial design.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Lace decorated devotional pictures

I was interested to see a fascinating exhibition of these lace-decorated devotional images in the Kantcentrum in Bruges. They show images of saints or the holy family and are decorated with lace borders, they often have a prayer written on the back and many were associated with specific points in the Christian calendar. The cards in the exhibition were mainly produced by publishers in Paris after 1830 and were distributed at catechism classes and after church services. Many were personalised and given as a record of first communion or as memorial cards at funerals. Most of them have a punched frame of lace, rather like a paper doily or the laser cut lace of today. However on a previous visit to Bruges I saw some that had surrounds that looked like lace prickings and many that included pricked designs, like lace grounds, within the main design. I didn’t see any of these in the current exhibition, but the information board said that Antwerp was the centre for the production of these cards from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, so perhaps they were earlier designs. I need to do some more research!

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Filet lace stitches

I bought an interesting little piece of filet lace in Bruges recently which includes quite a variety of stitches. The central motif shows darning or linen stitch overlaid with leaves, which are worked in a similar way to bobbin lace ones by running a long thread the length of the leaf shape, catching it in the linen stitch and then back to the centre again and then weaving over and under, across the two threads, to form the leaf shape. There is an explanation of how to do it in Therese de Dillmot’s little encyclopaedia of needlework. There is also some simple outlining, to form a gimp around the central petal shapes, although it doesn’t follow the outline of the linen stitch very accurately! The central motif is ringed by loop stitch in a finer thread which is worked in one direction by looping the thread over the square meshes leaving a loop between stitches which is then worked through on the return journey in the opposite direction. You can also see some star shapes in the photo which are made by loping the thread round the square mesh in a lazy daisy fashion. I was also intrigued to see that the ends of the threads are knotted off quite crudely in places – I suspect the worker was being paid piece rates and was hoping no one would be laundering the finished mat so it wouldn’t unravel.

Friday, 31 August 2018

Developing my website

I’m pleased with my new website which I think is more professional looking than my old one and shows off my lace more effectively. That is hardly surprising as I produced the previous website myself and the new one has been produced for me by Bright Sea Media. One of the reasons I paid for a professional design was that I needed a new website and I was already having trouble finding the time to update my old one so I knew I’d never find the time to develop a new site. Mind you, even getting someone else to do a website for you still requires quite a lot of work – you have to decide how many pages you need and provide the text and photos for them, all labelled and with captions. However having a deadline to get the information to the designer meant I got it done rather than postponing it, which is what would have happened if I’d been doing it myself. There were also other bonuses to using a design company that I hadn’t really considered. For example they made helpful suggestions about the layout, which made the site much more user friendly, and have included a contact page which allows me to assemble a mailing list. They also help with promoting the site on social media which is a good way of getting it to new audiences. I’m very pleased with the result – see what you think.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Lace in Flanders: History and contemporary art

This sumptuous book by Martine Bruggeman has been produced as part of the World Lace Congress that included the Living lace exhibition and other events in Bruges as well as exhibitions and activities in other Belgian lace cities during August. The book is excellent, it includes over 300 pages and is bursting with informative articles and beautiful photographs. There is a large section on historical lace and the development of lace, including a chapter on more recent developments which are often not covered in other books. The theme of the Congress is that lace is a living craft and art form and that while the historical side is interesting it should inform the future not anchor it to the past. In this spirit of building on what has gone before, Martine includes sections on the different types of Flanders lace, including information about inspirational teachers who are currently teaching them. There are also sections on contemporary lace groups and individual artists, and I am honoured to be included among them. The book concludes with summaries of the talks we heard at the congress in Bruges. The book is profusely illustrated with hundreds of beautiful pictures of antique and contemporary lace and the articles are interesting and informative. It is a valuable addition to the bookshelf, giving an overview of where lace is today. It is a lovely book.   

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Living lace exhibition in Bruges

The Living lace exhibition and the World Lace Congress in Bruges have been well worth visiting. The exhibition has some interesting contemporary work which is beautifully displayed. There is also a separate exhibition of some lovely lace jewellery by Lauran Sundin, Peter Quijo and others, as well as amazing historical pieces of lace including intricate Brussels lace and some lovely Chantilly. There are also stands for the different types of laces being made today with examples of antique and modern work as the ethos of the exhibition is that lace is a living vibrant fabric. As well as the lace there are also a number of suppliers and I’ve already succumbed to some books and pieces of old lace! However the exhibition is not the only event, we’ve also been fortunate to hear some interesting lectures on contemporary lace, as well as Belgian laces including war lace and lace from the museums in Brussels and Antwerp. Sprang was the topic of another lecture and I was amazed to discover how versatile it is and how widespread throughout the world. There are also some smaller exhibitions around the city linked to the event including one describing the social history of lace in Bruges through old photographs and another of students work. We’ve also taken the opportunity to visit the Kantcentrum and the lace fences so have seen all types of lace varying from the minute and precious to the monumental – it has been a fascinating few days.   

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Exhibiting lace in Bruges

I’m looking forward to exhibiting at the World Lace Congress in Bruges next week and I’ve been busy deciding what to show on my stand. I think it will be mainly my veils based on nineteenth century novels, as that is my most recent body of work. It will also be the first time I’ve exhibited my ‘Belladonna’ veil which I finished in the summer. As well as those, I’ve been considering taking some earlier pieces such as my three hangings about memory loss, as they show different techniques and their length would also balance out some of the longer veils. I’m going to plan a mock up in the studio to see what would fit in the space and which pieces go together nicely. Another concern is getting the pieces to Bruges – I’m travelling from the UK by train so everything has to be quite portable and pack down well. Luckily most of my work is light and rolls up or folds easily. I’m looking forward to seeing the other exhibitions once mine is hung. There seem to be exhibitions throughout Bruges and some interesting lectures on the Saturday which I’m looking forward to hearing.