I had an interesting day yesterday talking to the granddaughter of Harry Cross, the designer of the Battle of Britain commemorative lace panel. Among the things we discussed was his approach to design and I was surprised to learn that he didn’t use sketchbooks. We are so used to using them today to draw from life, play with ideas, draw diagrams and collect information that not to have one seems amazing. Perhaps the companies he worked for had inspiration books for all the designers to use. I have seen some of these in archives, which may incorporate snippets of lace, fashion designs, pictures of flowers and architecture. Some are for general reference and others have obviously been assembled by individual designers for their own use. I wonder where he tried out his designs though, perhaps on pieces of paper that he then threw away once he’d produced the final design. Or perhaps the lace designers had to keep all the artwork with the design so it couldn’t be taken out of house and copied. However, it may be that the use of personal sketchbooks for designing is a modern idea which began with the development of City and Guild embroidery and textile classes as a way of learning and evaluating. Interesting thoughts that I will follow up!