Monday, 30 March 2015

Textile conferences

I’ve been to a couple of conferences in the last two weeks (The erotic cloth and the Textile Society research symposium) both fascinating in different ways. The speakers at The erotic cloth were mainly established researchers in the field, while those at the Textile Society tended to be PhD students talking about their research, so the day did not have a theme but gave an interesting overview of current textile research. There were many interesting papers at both events, but those most relevant to my work included Angela Maddock’s talk about folds and cloth related to Giovanni Battista Moroni’s painting of Il tagliapanni (the cutter of cloth). I also enjoyed Claire Jones’ depiction of cloth and puberty in Victorian marble sculptures which linked to my research into the animate and inanimate. Samantha Broadhead’s paper on the fetishizing of cloth in Hitchcock’s film Rebecca also included some very atmospheric net curtains, while Grace Williams’ research into the use of fabric in stage magic and disappearing women, contained some wonderful images of carpets concealing bodies, both in her own practice and that of Anette Reimer. At the Textile Society day, I was interested in Alexandra Lester-Makin’s research on early medieval embroidery, because I am interested in this period of history but also because she discussed the idea of objects having a life, a theme she explored from an archaeological point of view, but one that interests me from a practice and fictional stance. Both conferences were stimulating and varied and were great opportunities to discuss ideas with fellow textile researchers.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Photographing lace

I’ve been trying to take photos of my lace again and have decided that the best way of doing it is to take close ups. It’s so difficult to get an overall view of most of the larger projects I make and when I do manage it all the details get lost. I also find with my net curtain and silk paper pieces that because they are transparent, the background is important. It’s no good having an ethereal piece of lace with an image of buildings behind it. I have tried taking photos in the garden, and that was quite successful but the slightest breeze can move the lace, which can lead to interesting effects but can be annoying, depending on the piece. So today I have concentrated on close ups, the image above is from ‘Frayed nerves’ which includes needle lace ‘nerves’ embedded in silk paper. I think the close up makes an interesting image regardless of the subject and at least it focuses on the lace!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Lace and science

Collecting some images of scientific subjects depicted in lace has confirmed what an excellent medium lace is for depicting biological and medical subjects. The piece above is a detail from a piece I made entitled ‘Thread of life’ showing a bundle of foetal cells dividing. Both bobbin and needle lace are excellent for depicting cells and histological structures as well as nerves, muscle fibres and other medical forms such as bacteria and viruses. Lace nets, both regular and irregular, can be used to suggest cellular structures, while intertwining plaits, threads and tallies can suggest nerves and other fibres. As you can see on my website lace can be used not just to depict biological images but also to represent concepts such as loss of memory and genetics. I’ve also used lace to depict the sleep cycle but so far no other physical, chemical or engineering subjects – a life time’s work awaits!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Tape lace

I’m working on a project at the moment for a mat that will use tape lace outlines, like the one above, entitled ‘Sweet dreams’. For that piece I made an oval edging, using a patchwork of fabrics, and joined the lace to the inner edge of the fabric as I worked round it. This time I’m going to use a continuous ‘tape’ of lace using cloth stitch and twists. I haven’t decided on the colours yet, but although I want to include some gold I think the other colours will be more subtle. I’ve always admired the way that many of the continental laces, such as Russian tape lace, use only a handful of bobbins, yet by working the tape backwards and forwards can make very intricate designs. That way of working has always seemed a much easier option than the straight laces that use numerous bobbins, although you have to keep doing sewings to join the tapes, which could be a drawback!