Wednesday 26 August 2015

Frames and stands

There is so much more to producing an exhibition than making the work itself! I’ve been making ‘window frames’ for some of my curtains. These three curtains will be exhibited in a large dark area so I need to make them stand out a bit and define them in the space. I also want them in the centre of the room rather than against the wall, so as well as the frames I need stands! All of them have been designed to come apart reasonably easily so I can transport them and assemble them at the venue. Apart from these frames and stands I don’t need many other props, although I do need at least 20 curtain rods. Some of these are acrylic and others are wooden dowel rods or actual extendable plastic curtain rods – at least they’re easy to transport. As are the curtains themselves, which all roll up for storage. I’ve already had to design a banner, posters and a flyer, which I collected from the printer on Monday. I’m especially pleased with the banner, which reads well from a distance and isn’t too cluttered. The next step is to design some labels for the pieces, print them out and cut them to size – never a dull moment!

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Thomas Lester lace designs

Seeing some lovely Bedfordshire lace last week in Nottingham made me reread Anne Buck’s book about Thomas Lester and his lace. She tells the story of his life and mentions some of the influences on his work, including the Great Exhibition of 1851 where he saw Maltese lace and fine Honiton lace. Until then he had predominantly made Bucks point designs but after the Exhibition his style gradually changed both to satisfy the public demand for new laces and to make designs that were quicker to produce and ‘suitable for ordinary work’. He was a great advocate of design training for the lace industry and complained that there were not enough good designers and that too many patterns were recopied. Anne Buck quotes him as saying ‘scarcely any of the manufacturers can design their own, though we do’. She also points out that the patterns we know as Thomas Lester’s may have been designed by other members of his family, as his two sons both joined the family business, and his wife and daughters were lacemakers. The naturalistic designs of flowers and animals in some of the exhibition pieces certainly suggest an artistic approach. Whoever designed them, many of the finer pieces are amazing and they justifiably won prizes at many International exhibitions throughout the 19th century.


Thursday 13 August 2015

Lace in the city of lace

I found plenty to see at this event in Nottingham, organised by the Nottinghamshire Bobbin Lace Society (NBLS), and had the pleasure of meeting up with old friends as well. The lace on display ranges from the contemporary, for example Louise West’s stunning metallic 3D forms, to the traditional, both in bobbin lace and beautiful examples of machine lace panels made in the 19th century. On the day I went I was fortunate enough to meet Malcolm Baker who worked for Simon May & Co for many years who was very informative about his travels as a representative for the company and also told me more about the lovely old lace panels which had been exhibited at International Exhibitions in the 1870s. There were also some interesting old sample books on display and tours of the Nottingham Trent University Lace Archive in the afternoon, although as places were restricted and I had been before I didn’t go on one this time. The NBLS members all wore lace collars and there were some lovely examples on show. As my particular love is Bedfordshire lace, I was of course drawn to those in particular, and enjoyed seeing some beautifully worked lace and talking to Louise about her lace designs and how she has redrafted some of the old Bedfordshire patterns. As well as the collars there were many other lovely pieces on display, in a variety of different lace types and designs, the NBLS members are a talented group and the exhibition is well worth a visit.

Friday 7 August 2015


I enjoyed the ‘Pen to printer’ calligraphy exhibition at the Crafts Study Centre, in particular the three panels of interwoven letters by Thomas Ingmire entitled ‘The space of writing’ and Gaynor Goffe’s depiction of Yeats’ poem ‘Had I the heavens embroidered cloths’ – one of my favourite poems. It made me consider the way I use text in my lace. Recently I’ve been using tambour lace to write in a fairly simple cursive script, which is easy to read and has a na├»ve style (see the detail above). I’ve also used simple straight stitched embroidery to write text on lace curtains, which I suppose is just an extension of the tambour work, which is basically a continuous chain stitch. If I’m trying to hide text in my work, or make it less obvious, I’ve also incorporated lettering into some of my Bedfordshire style lace designs, where it merges with the pattern, for example in my ‘Get off me’ mat. Capturing lettering in lace is quite a challenge, but I have plans for more mat designs including words – I’ll keep you posted!