Tuesday 23 June 2015

Lace in Workbox

Great to see lace featured in the latest issue of ‘Be Creative Workbox’ magazine. One of Louise West’s beautiful lace wire cylinders is shown as a full page image in the Gallery section, and there is an article by Eileen Anderson about the ISIS Lacemakers’ group entry for last year’s Waddesdon manor lace exhibition. It also includes my article on subversive stitching, which features my ‘get off me’ mat (shown in the image above) as well as several of my net curtains and the virtual sampler. Of course the idea of the subversive stitch comes from Rozsika Parker’s brilliant feminist book that discusses how stitching was used to define the feminine and how women have since subverted it to comment on women’s issues and the domestic – something I continue in my practice.

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Savage beauty: Alexander McQueen

This exhibition at the V&A Museum is breathtaking, both for the way it is displayed and the work it shows. You come out reeling from the amazing inventiveness of Alexander McQueen, not only the clothes he designed but also the headwear, shoes, jewellery and the sheer spectacle of the catwalk shows. It is a credit to the curators that they managed to convey all of this through brilliant room designs that immerse you in the themes of the collections. McQueen was also a man who knew how to use lace – it is everywhere – but always used to effect, sometimes a small piece attached to fabric, at others a huge ruffle, an entire dress, or a veil over the entire face. Veiling, or rather masking, is another key factor in many of these designs which adds to their gothic feeling of personal confinement. I was interested in the lace, but beautiful workmanship can also be seen in the embroidery, metalwork and garment construction. One of the great things about this exhibition is that the spectacle is amazing but so are the fine details. It is one of the best exhibitions I’ve seen for a long time – visit it if you can.

Wednesday 10 June 2015


Thinking about photography yet again! This time I need some good photos of my most recent pieces - the hangings with the TB lace and silk paper. The trouble is there are three of them and they are 2 metres long and I haven’t got anywhere suitable to hang them for photography. My studio is a lovely cosy space, but not exactly a white cube environment! A friend recently told me that one of the reasons she’d held her latest exhibition was to hang all her work in a nice neutral space so that she could hire a photographer to take some good photos for her. Photos are so important when you’re trying to get selected for exhibitions that I can see her point. I will be able to take some full length photos when I exhibit these pieces in The Crypt Gallery in September, but I need some good photos before then. In the meantime I’ll just have to use close ups.  

Thursday 4 June 2015

Mounting lace

When I first started making traditional lace, great importance was put on how the lace was mounted onto fabric – usually a handkerchief or mat centre – with good reason, as bad mounting could ruin a lovely piece of lace. I remember the intricate steps required, including aligning the fabric and lace by removing a thread from the material, pinning, and tacking. Then the delicate stitching, using, for example, three-sided stitch, followed by the nerve wracking task of cutting away the excess fabric as close as possible to the stitching without cutting through it. Although I enjoy hand stitching I never found mounting lace very relaxing and was never entirely happy with the results. I was thinking about this mounting process as I was making my most recent piece of lace incorporating lace, fabric and silk paper. In this case I’m attaching the lace to the fabric using a simple oversewing stitch on the edge of the lace. When I’ve finished the sewing, I will remove the excess fabric by cutting it away about 1 cm from the stitching. For this hanging I am trying to represent the idea of the fabric becoming silted up with dust and turning into paper. Therefore I don’t want a formal join between the lace and the fabric, but to give the impression that they are all merging into one another. I also have the advantage that the lace will not be laundered so I’m not worried about the fabric fraying; it just has to look good on display. At the end of the day, I guess mounting is just about attaching the lace in the most appropriate way and if you do it well no one should notice it and instead just focus on the lace.