Thursday, 14 June 2018

Tambour lace

I spent a couple of days at Newstead Abbey this week doing some research in the Nottingham textile archive. I was there to study some lace curtain designs and associated material but incidentally saw some lovely tambour lace equipment which started a discussion about how they were used. Tambour lace is basically a line of chain stitching on a net background, and I used that technique for the curtains in my ‘Whispering’ series. In contrast to my basic hook shown in the image above, the archive holds a very fine tambour hook, the stem of which is made of bone or ivory, which was light to hold and would have been a pleasure to work with. The top of it also unscrewed to reveal a small hollow in which spare metal hooks would have been stored. When I made my tambour lace I pinned my pattern below the net, but this meant I had to keep moving it out of the way to make the chain stitches, which is time consuming. In the archive I saw a large printing block which would have been used to print a design onto net. This would have made the work of tambouring much quicker and easier; both considerations when the work is being made commercially. However, whether you have a pinned or printed pattern, it is essential to keep the net taught in a frame and hold the hook vertically as you work, so it doesn’t get caught on the net. The way I’ve attached my net also allows the work to be moved up easily when you move to a new section.

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