I’ve been enjoying reading the historical section in The technique of filet lace by Pauline Knight. She notes that in the late nineteenth century few English magazines published articles and patterns for filet lace but many French albums of designs were produced, several of them reproducing designs from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These designs cover a variety of styles and also include pictorial designs from the fables of La Fontaine and Perrault. These designs were popular for filet lace and also for crochet so had a wide audience. Interestingly Pauline suggests that the interest in filet lace at this time may have been sparked by the availability of machine lace bedspreads and curtains with elaborate designs. This reinforces my own idea that the lace curtain designers were using the filet lace designs as inspiration for their own work as both are based on a square mesh.
Wednesday, 13 March 2019
I’m delighted that my review of last year’s lace exhibition ‘Lace Unarchived’ held in the Bonington Gallery, Nottingham, in February and March 2018, has now been published in Textile journal. The publishers, Taylor and Francis, have sent me a link which allows the first 50 people who use it to download a copy of the review, so if you would like a copy please access it through the following link - you have to copy and paste it
Thursday, 7 February 2019
I’ve been trying to identify the castle in the Battle of Britain commemorative lace panel and this week asked for help on social media. I’ve had several suggestions – Windsor, Ruthin, Penrhyn and Leeds castles. Leeds castle have responded saying it isn’t them but the others are still on the table. As the panel was designed by Harry Cross in Nottingham I originally started looking at castles in Nottingham and I was convinced the castle was Elvaston Castle from images on the internet. However when I actually visited Elvaston and walked round it I realised that it didn’t really fit the image on the panel so it wasn’t the one I was looking for. It may be that the castle is not based on a real castle or that Harry Cross mixed aspects from different castles, however the other images on the panel are all taken from life so it seems likely that the castle is too. One of the problems is that many castles look quite similar but once you start looking closely this one is quite distinctive. If you think you recognise the castle do let me know and I’ll investigate further.
Wednesday, 30 January 2019
I’ve been looking at lace curtain designing again this week, in particular floral designs and how they were used in border patterns. The curtains in the image are from the Peach and Sons catalogue from 1904 and many of them have floral borders. Some are very stylised while others are quite naturalistic and flowing. Books of the time that taught design to students were insistent on drawing from nature as well as from memory and then developing those images into designs. In fact Owen Jones who wrote the Grammar of Ornament (the mainstay of teaching and good taste at the time) considered nature the best designer of all.
Friday, 25 January 2019
I’m very excited about my new lace project researching the life and work of Amy Atkin, who claimed to be the first woman to design Nottingham machine lace in the early 1900s. I first came across Amy in 2008 at an exhibition of her work in the Nottingham Castle Museum, in conjunction with a lovely exhibition entitled Prickings by Catherine Bertola. I have been interested in her ever since and have now seen her designs at Newstead Abbey where they are held as part of the Collection of Nottingham City Museums. Amy trained at the Nottingham Art School in the early 1900s and was a designer for about 10 years before her marriage brought her career to an end – as was the case for most women at the time. My project will involve academic research into Amy’s career and lace design in the early twentieth century. I’ll also include a practice response to the research as well – probably involving needle run lace on machine net. I’m interested to know more about Amy and lace design in the early 1900s so if any readers have any more information I would be delighted to hear from you – please just add a comment here. The image is one of Amy’s designs and belongs to the Collection of Nottingham City Museums.
Wednesday, 23 January 2019
I made a series of little needle lace bags a while ago and have recently been photographing them. They were easy shapes to work on and carry around to take up when I had an odd moment to spare for lacemaking. The backs are simple corded buttonhole stitch, worked fairly loosely to give an open appearance. The fronts are all different but are much thicker and textural with thicker cordonets.
I also had fun making up different types of ‘handles’ for them. Some have chunky cordonets worked into loops at the top of the bag, some are plaited, and others have bound threads held in place by decorative knots. They’re all made in shades of yellow, are the same size and have a long tassel at the base so although they are all different they form a group for exhibiting.
Wednesday, 16 January 2019
I’ve been looking at the similarities between old filet lace patterns and the designs used in nineteenth century machine lace curtains. Both are based on a square grid and it seems reasonable to think the curtain designers may have based some of their designs on old patterns. This week I’ve been looking at the little book of Renaissance patterns for lace and embroidery by Federico Vinciolo. It was originally published in 1587 and contains designs for reticella needlelace as well as grid designs suitable for filet lace or cross stitch. Vinciolo was a Venetian designer who went to France, probably at the request of Catherine de Medici, where he had the monopoly on manufacturing lace ruffs. His designs cover an array of styles including geometric, floral and the more pictorial designs shown here of a stag and squirrel, and the goddess of flowers representing spring.