Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Painted lace curtains

I was recently given an interesting lace curtain (thank you Gail!) - the image shows a detail of the main motif. It has been coloured not by using differently dyed threads within the lace, but by printing colour on to it after it was made. This was probably a quicker way to add colour than rethreading the lace machine with different coloured threads, which would also have had to be wound on to bobbins and disguised within the body of the lace net in areas where they weren't needed. A similar technique of printing on to lace is used in the famous Magga Dan lace panel made by Stiebels of Nottingham, which celebrates the ship’s history of Antarctic exploration and includes ice floes, explorers and penguins in its design. The lace curtain in the picture also shows an interesting use of floss thread to form the crests of the waves and the main design of the setting sun. The lines of floss representing the rays of the sun would also have caught the light when hung at a window and, especially with the yellow colouring on them, would have given a warm depth to the design.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Mother and babe lace bobbins

I’ve got four mother and babe style bobbins on my lace pillow at the moment. Christine and David Springett in their book ‘Success to the lace pillow’ define mother and babe bobbins as ‘miniature bobbin or bobbins enclosed in a pierced shank’. Three of the bobbins in the image would definitely fit that classification. They would probably describe the wooden bobbin as a lantern as it encloses small beads in a pierced shank. However it is also a whittled bobbin, which they describe separately, and the bobbin and beads were probably carved from a single piece of wood. T L Huetson in his book ‘Lace and bobbins’ describes all bobbins with pierced shanks as church window bobbins whether they contain a smaller baby bobbin, beads or nothing at all. The Springetts use the term church window only for bobbins with empty pierced shanks. I think the Springetts have done an enormous amount of research into bobbins and their makers and I find their use of the different terms helpful in describing bobbins more precisely so I think I’ll stick with their terminology.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Instructions for tambour lace

I’ve been looking at some of the net-based embroidered and needle-run laces as I found the technique quite successful in my Battle of Britain lace panels. This week I’ve been reading Irish lace making by Eileen C O’Connor (the image comes from the booklet), as these types of lace are particularly associated with Ireland and, in fact, are now most commonly known as Limerick and Carrickmacross lace. I was very surprised to read her instructions for tambour lace which say that the working net should be tacked onto the design marked on linen paper. If you have ever done any tambour lace you will realise that the tambour hook passes through the net and picks up the thread that makes the chain stitch from below the net, therefore you can’t do it with something tacked on to the net! Further reading discloses that the designs ‘are intended to be worked with a needle and thread’. That makes sense as far as the working is concerned – you are making chain stitches with a needle and thread through the net, above the pattern, which is removed when the lace is finished. However, can it be described as tambour lace? I had always thought the definition of tambour lace was that it was made with a tambour hook. Perhaps that’s wrong, and it just describes lace patterns on net utilising chain stitch, after all if the result is the same does the technique matter?

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Mind maps and lace nerves

Now I’ve finished my Battle of Britain lace commission I’ve been thinking about a new project and I’ve been considering extending my work on the link between biology, science and lace. The image is of Mind maps a piece I made several years ago looking at nerves and body tissues, using a combination of bobbin lace and silk paper. I’m interested in making something on a larger scale using the needle run lace technique I used for the central panel of the Battle of Britain commission. I’ve been looking at some histology book to get inspiration from the images of tissues they contain but I don’t want the work to be purely representational. I’m interested in looking at sight and the cells of the eye which would also tie in with my recent net curtain and veiling projects on concealing and revealing and things that can be seen and not seen. I haven’t quite worked it out yet but that’s the way my mind is working at the moment!

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Special Nottingham lace curtain parcels

After all the excitement of conferences and exhibitions I’m back doing some curtain research this week. In particular I’ve been looking at a catalogue from the Peach company of Nottingham for 1904. Peach sold lace, curtains, linens and hosiery but I’ve been studying their special lace curtain parcels. These were assembled and sold for specific types of houses. The cheapest at 12/6 is the Triumph parcel which ‘is recommended where large size curtains are not required’ and boasts of their hard-wearing qualities. However, although aimed at the less well-off home, it contains one pair of curtains for a dining room, a sitting room, and a bedroom as well as one lace guipure sideboard cover and two fancy lace mats. There are also country house parcels, a frilled curtain parcel, a wedding present parcel and at £5 10/- a mansion parcel! The latter includes two pairs of curtains for the drawing room and two for the dining room. One pair for the breakfast room and four pairs for bedrooms. Also for the bedroom are a lace bedspread, a table centre, and six dressing table mats, while for the living rooms there are two antimacassars, a table cover and a sideboard cover. These are all described as ‘exquisite designs and the curtains are the best machinery can produce’ – however they may not be so hard-wearing!

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Lace Unveiled at Newstead Abbey, Nottingham

This exhibition of contemporary art presented throughout the Abbey was part of the Lace Unravelled programme. It included two new works by Shane Waltener. A canopy of threads woven between a row of yew trees alongside the medieval fishpond, which framed the view along the walk and invited contemplation (see pic below); and a tangled web of threads across the centre of a four poster bed in the house, reminiscent of fairy tales and mysteries.
Another interesting work was ‘Boom’ by Joy Buttress and Manolis Papastavrou which visually expressed the rise and fall of the lace factories in Nottingham, based on information from Sheila Mason’s book. It includes a drawing of part of a lace parasol cover and a film of it being made (see pic at top). Lucy Brown’s ‘The secrets we keep from ourselves’, an installation of deconstructed second hand clothes and lace, filled Lord Byron’s dressing room and explored her interest in the revealing and concealing qualities of lace. In another bedroom, Joana Vasconcelos used crochet lace to challenge ideas about femininity, tradition and modernity, by using this ‘feminine’ product to mummify two ferocious ceramic wolves. It was interesting to see lace inspiring such different projects and also to see the works exhibited in the house rather than in a white cube space.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Lace Unravelled at Newstead Abbey

The theme of the second day of the Lace Unravelled symposium was ‘creative lace’. Wollfgang Buttress opened the day with a fascinating talk about expressing the ephemeral through light and architecture, in particular the ideas behind his Hive structure which is now at Kew Gardens. Sara Robertson and Sarah Taylor then told us about their collaboration with MYB Textiles and Mike Stoane Lighting to produce light emitting lace, some of which is on display in Lace Unarchived at Bonington Gallery. Sylvie Marot then discussed her forthcoming exhibition at the Calais Lace Museum entitled ‘Haute dentelle’ combining couture fashion and lace. During the lunch break we had the opportunity to see the artworks displayed throughout the house as part of the Public programme (more of that in another blog). After lunch, Cecilia Heffer described her research exploring ephemeral material processes in a contemporary lace practice. She considers the making of textile as a contemporary response to the transient nature of place. Shane Waltener, who had constructed two installations at Newstead – one in the Abbey grounds and the other in a bedroom - talked about his site specific work. The day was summarised by Janis Jefferies who reflected on the themes of the symposium and facilitated a final discussion. It was a fascinating day celebrating the ephemerality of lace and the continuing relevance of lace in practice today.