I’ve been studying the flowers and leaves Harry Cross used in his design for the Battle of Britain commemorative lace panel, to get some inspiration for my contemporary response to it. Apart from being amazed by the elegance with which he depicts them I’ve been making a list and found roses, thistles, shamrocks and daffodils representing the four countries of the UK. He also includes plants representing the air forces mentioned on the panel, so we have maple leaves for Canada, protea for South Africa, wattle for Australia, and fern leaves for New Zealand. The panel also includes acorns and what is generally described as wheat or corn along the outer edge, although it does look more like barley with its long ‘whiskers’ fanning out. The image shows some thistles, corn and shamrocks all beautifully drawn and shaded. I need to try drawing some myself now and deciding how to incorporate them into my design.
Wednesday 16 August 2017
Gail Baxter and I have just run another lace study day for the Crafts Study Centre at Farnham. We had a lovely group of people most of whom were crafts people but not lacemakers. We looked at lace from the Textile collection at the University for the Creative Arts, which includes samples of most types of lace, of varying qualities. We began the day by looking at the different types of bobbin laces, then studied some needlelace pieces, including some amazingly fine hollie point, and some very nice Point de Gaze. We then moved on to some mixed laces, like the one in the picture, which includes bobbin lace motifs joined with needlelace ground. After that we studied some of the Irish laces – Limerick, Carrickmacross and crochet as well as some filet lace. We ended the day by studying some very fine examples of knitted Shetland lace and looking at some examples of different types of machine made lace. By the end of the day we had managed to cover most types of lace and had given the participants a good overview of the many different ways of making lace.
Friday 11 August 2017
I’ve just bought a small book about wedding fashions and was interested to see what it said about veils. It begins by discussing the weddings of Queen Victoria’s family and says that the veil Princess Alice wore in 1862 was designed by her father Prince Albert, although sadly he died before the wedding. The photograph in the book is not very clear but I did track the veil down in the Royal Collection and it appears more like a shawl in shape, with little gathering. She wore it thrown back from the face with orange blossom in her hair. When Princess Alexandra married Prince Edward a year later she and her bridesmaids all wore veils falling over the backs of their heads from wreaths of flowers. This fashion often made it difficult to distinguish the bride (see the image above), however by the end of the century it was generally only the bride who wore a veil and the bridesmaids wore hats. In 1871, Princess Louise wears a similar style of veil to her sister also hanging from the back of her head with flowers at the front. All the royal brides wore white although many ordinary women just wore their best dress whatever the colour with a bonnet or veil. I’m looking forward to finding out more.
Thursday 3 August 2017
I’ve just visited Bentley Priory to see their Battle of Britain commemorative lace panel and discuss plans for exhibiting my contemporary response there. It’s so nice to see the panel so beautifully displayed and on permanent exhibition in the hall at the Museum – the image shows a detail from it. Bentley Priory was the headquarters of RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain and it was from here all the operations were coordinated, in fact the museum includes a recreation of the Filter room where all the radar information was processed, which gives a good idea of how skilled the work was. It’s a very friendly museum with an important story to tell and I’m looking forward to working with them on my Battle of Britain project.
Tuesday 1 August 2017
The round lace mats that we call doilies, are reputed to have been named after a London draper called Mr Doily, Doyley or D’Oyley who had a linen drapers shop in the Strand in London. There is a reference to him in the Spectator magazine of 1712 selling ‘stuff as might at once be cheap and genteel’. Another writer mentions that the draper’s shop existed until 1850. Originally, doily may have been a woollen material, the name being derived from dwaele, the Dutch word for towel. However in the eighteenth century, the usage changed to denote a small piece of fabric known as a ‘doily-napkin’, placed between the dessert plate and the finger bowl at the dining table. In 1854, Miss Leslie, an American writer, described doilies as ‘small napkins intended for wiping the fingers after fruit’. In the twentieth century doilies lost their association with towels and became decorative or used to protect furniture. Doily now seems to be collective term for all types of lace mat regardless of size or the technique used to fashion them and the general public are probably more familiar with paper doilies than textile ones.