I’ve just come back from a research visit to MYB Textiles in Scotland – the last net curtain manufacturer remaining in the UK. It was very exciting to be shown round the factory and to see and hear the lace machines in action. I also enjoyed researching in the archive, examining their store of net curtains and designs. They also have numerous pattern drafts and working diagrams for the machines as well as some old catalogues of past designs which were fascinating to look at. However, as well as their archive, MYB is a very innovative company with a wide selection of modern designs for curtains, bedspreads, napery and even wallpaper. They also collaborate with a range of designers and artists to create new designs and fabrics. It was a fascinating visit and has left me with a wealth of images and ideas to work on and lots of memories of the lovely people who helped me during my visit.
Thursday, 19 May 2016
I never thought I’d say this but I think I have enough threads to last me a lifetime! At one time I would buy selections of lovely threads wherever I went, which is probably why I have such a large collection. However my recent work has mainly been in white, as I’ve purposely been using the idea of pristine Victorian textiles and how they can be subverted to reflect the uncanny in the home. My latest body of work on veiling has also continued the white theme, although I am planning some black veils, but although that’s a change from white it’s still not very colourful! I am working on one project for which I’m blending coloured threads and for that I’ve returned to the terracotta palette of colours I’ve used in the past; but that is a one off for a specific exhibition. I’m certainly not parting with any of my threads yet, as you never know when you’ll need just the right colour of something, but I won’t be buying any new ones for a while, even though they are so beguiling.
Thursday, 12 May 2016
I spent a very interesting day yesterday at the National Art Library looking through the illustrated catalogues for some of the 19th century International exhibitions. My main interest was lace curtains but I also found lace designed by Mrs Treadwin and an article about the history of lace and embroidery by Mrs Bury Palliser. Mrs Treadwin came in for great praise in the 1851 report, which noted that ‘In lace the finest specimens of design are English, Mrs Treadwin’s flounce being, perhaps unrivalled in this respect’. Unfortunately the exhibitions later in the century tend to extol the virtues of French and Brussels lace over the British. Although none of the exhibits at these international exhibitions were for sale, I discovered that many British manufacturers would have liked to advertise their prices alongside their lace to show that although many of the continental laces were superior to the British ones they were also much more expensive. I now have lots of notes to sift through. I was also allowed to take some photos but only on condition I didn’t publish them so the image above is of a 19th century lace curtain from a catalogue I own – it wasn’t shown at any of the major exhibitions.
Friday, 6 May 2016
I’m busy with last minute preparations for my exhibition at the LQ&N Makit Fair at Peterborough on Sunday. I decided what lace to take and show last week when the size of the exhibition space was finalised, so that is already packed and ready to go. Luckily most of my lace is flat or rolls up neatly so it doesn’t take up much space when it’s packed up. My exhibition area is four tables forming a rectangular space 12 feet by 5 feet in the centre of the atrium. My main problem was that the cloth I have to cover the tables is big enough to cover them and allow an overhang down the front and back but not long enough to cover the ends as well, so I’ve bought some black sheets to put underneath the main cloth, to fill the gaps. I hope it all fits together seamlessly on the day! I’ve also got some pins to keep the lace in place, as well as various types of sticky tape to secure the table covers if necessary. I’m also going to take a small stool or stepladder so I can reach the centre of the display when I’m putting it up. All I need to do now is to print out a panel with my name on so visitors know who I am!