Wednesday 25 October 2017

Muslin dress from the Great Exhibition

This beautifully embroidered muslin dress was exhibited at the Great Exhibition in 1851 by Messrs Brown, Sharps & Co of Paisley. The accompanying text notes that ‘These manufacturers have long been famous: having obtained eminence not only for the excellence of their work but for the purity and beauty of their designs’. It continues by explaining that they use artists to produce the designs who are not ‘merely Provincial’ and apologises for the inadequacy of the engraving in not conveying the full beauty of the needlework. The actual embroidery in this sample is 4 feet wide and 3 feet high. It must have been a lovely piece. However, it does not receive much praise in a later essay in the same volume discussing ‘The exhibition as a lesson in taste’ by Ralph Nicolson Wornum (for which he won a prize of 100 guineas). He notes that although there is a ‘rich dress exhibited by Brown Sharps & Co’, in general, regarding the level of design in lace and embroidered muslin, the exhibition ‘contains very little that is good’. I think he was being a little harsh!

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Needle lace

I’m now well into my project producing a response to the Battle of Britain commemorative lace panel – I’ve finished all the designing and have been to all the sites in the original panel to take new images. I started work on some of the ancillary pieces doing some canvas work for the ‘drafts’ and working on shapes for some of the pieces I’m going to apply, but hadn’t started the needle lace on the main panel until a couple of weeks ago. I think I was unsure whether my technique would work and worried about ruining the net background, so I was nervous to start it. Well I needn’t have worried! The net is quite firm and shows no signs of fraying at the edges, also because it is so firm I haven’t had to work on a frame. This has made working much easier because I have just laid the net over the pattern and can see the whole design rather than just a section of it. It also means I have to move round the table to work it which is better than just sitting in one place. I’m also pleased with the ‘drawing with thread’ approach I’m using, which allows me to transfer my design directly to the net using needle and thread. At the moment I’m outlining the entire design and I’ll add shading in a lighter weight thread afterwards. It’s always a relief when something you’ve been working on for ages suddenly seems to come together!  

Wednesday 11 October 2017

Machine lace equipment

In my response to the Battle of Britain commemorative lace panel I’ve decided to include simple images of some lace machine equipment to represent those who made the lace and the machines they used. I’ll be including images of the bobbins and carriages shown in the picture as well as representations of jacquard cards and drafts. The bobbins and their holders will probably be made of fabric and applied in a Carrickmacross technique but the cards and drafts will be separate applied pieces. I’ve made a start on the ‘drafts’ using stitching on canvas to give me the appearance of a design using rectangle shapes but I’m still deciding how to represent the rows of holes on the jacquard cards.

Wednesday 4 October 2017

Battle of Britain central lace panel

A busy week doing more on my response to the Battle of Britain commemorative lace panel. I was going to work the central needlerun lace panel on an embroidery frame, but I’ve started by running in some of the main outlines on the flat, on a large table, and that seems to be working well, so I may not use the frame after all. At the moment I have the pattern and the net clipped together at the top but not the bottom so I can roll up the net to see the pattern more clearly if I need to. The ribbon is just to stop the clip snagging the net. I drew the design using pencil and was going to redraw it on to fresh tracing paper with a waterproof pen, but I’ve found that just adding another layer of tracing paper over the top still allows me to see the design, so that has saved me a job. I was also unsure whether the net I’m using would fray at the edges as I worked but it seems to be keeping its shape and keeping it flat rather than winding it on to a frame will probably help that too. So far so good!