Friday 31 August 2018

Developing my website

I’m pleased with my new website which I think is more professional looking than my old one and shows off my lace more effectively. That is hardly surprising as I produced the previous website myself and the new one has been produced for me by Bright Sea Media. One of the reasons I paid for a professional design was that I needed a new website and I was already having trouble finding the time to update my old one so I knew I’d never find the time to develop a new site. Mind you, even getting someone else to do a website for you still requires quite a lot of work – you have to decide how many pages you need and provide the text and photos for them, all labelled and with captions. However having a deadline to get the information to the designer meant I got it done rather than postponing it, which is what would have happened if I’d been doing it myself. There were also other bonuses to using a design company that I hadn’t really considered. For example they made helpful suggestions about the layout, which made the site much more user friendly, and have included a contact page which allows me to assemble a mailing list. They also help with promoting the site on social media which is a good way of getting it to new audiences. I’m very pleased with the result – see what you think.

Thursday 23 August 2018

Lace in Flanders: History and contemporary art

This sumptuous book by Martine Bruggeman has been produced as part of the World Lace Congress that included the Living lace exhibition and other events in Bruges as well as exhibitions and activities in other Belgian lace cities during August. The book is excellent, it includes over 300 pages and is bursting with informative articles and beautiful photographs. There is a large section on historical lace and the development of lace, including a chapter on more recent developments which are often not covered in other books. The theme of the Congress is that lace is a living craft and art form and that while the historical side is interesting it should inform the future not anchor it to the past. In this spirit of building on what has gone before, Martine includes sections on the different types of Flanders lace, including information about inspirational teachers who are currently teaching them. There are also sections on contemporary lace groups and individual artists, and I am honoured to be included among them. The book concludes with summaries of the talks we heard at the congress in Bruges. The book is profusely illustrated with hundreds of beautiful pictures of antique and contemporary lace and the articles are interesting and informative. It is a valuable addition to the bookshelf, giving an overview of where lace is today. It is a lovely book.   

Saturday 18 August 2018

Living lace exhibition in Bruges

The Living lace exhibition and the World Lace Congress in Bruges have been well worth visiting. The exhibition has some interesting contemporary work which is beautifully displayed. There is also a separate exhibition of some lovely lace jewellery by Lauran Sundin, Peter Quijo and others, as well as amazing historical pieces of lace including intricate Brussels lace and some lovely Chantilly. There are also stands for the different types of laces being made today with examples of antique and modern work as the ethos of the exhibition is that lace is a living vibrant fabric. As well as the lace there are also a number of suppliers and I’ve already succumbed to some books and pieces of old lace! However the exhibition is not the only event, we’ve also been fortunate to hear some interesting lectures on contemporary lace, as well as Belgian laces including war lace and lace from the museums in Brussels and Antwerp. Sprang was the topic of another lecture and I was amazed to discover how versatile it is and how widespread throughout the world. There are also some smaller exhibitions around the city linked to the event including one describing the social history of lace in Bruges through old photographs and another of students work. We’ve also taken the opportunity to visit the Kantcentrum and the lace fences so have seen all types of lace varying from the minute and precious to the monumental – it has been a fascinating few days.   

Saturday 11 August 2018

Exhibiting lace in Bruges

I’m looking forward to exhibiting at the World Lace Congress in Bruges next week and I’ve been busy deciding what to show on my stand. I think it will be mainly my veils based on nineteenth century novels, as that is my most recent body of work. It will also be the first time I’ve exhibited my ‘Belladonna’ veil which I finished in the summer. As well as those, I’ve been considering taking some earlier pieces such as my three hangings about memory loss, as they show different techniques and their length would also balance out some of the longer veils. I’m going to plan a mock up in the studio to see what would fit in the space and which pieces go together nicely. Another concern is getting the pieces to Bruges – I’m travelling from the UK by train so everything has to be quite portable and pack down well. Luckily most of my work is light and rolls up or folds easily. I’m looking forward to seeing the other exhibitions once mine is hung. There seem to be exhibitions throughout Bruges and some interesting lectures on the Saturday which I’m looking forward to hearing.

Friday 3 August 2018

Italian filet lace curtains

I bought a pair of lovely handmade filet lace curtains in an Italian market recently. The stallholder claimed they were made in Burano 20 years ago. They are certainly beautiful and entirely handmade - even the filet net the pattern is worked on to is handmade. Having made filet lace as part of the City and Guilds qualification I know it is not as easy to make as it seems! The net is worked with a type of buttonhole stitch over a stick of the right width to ensure the squares are all the same size. As I remember the hardest part is starting the net, once the work is established you get into a rhythm and producing the subsequent rows of squares is straightforward, although time consuming. Working the pattern is much more complicated. It looks as if you just darn the squares you want filled, but in fact the thread is woven through the squares in such a way that each square has two horizontal and two vertical threads – no more no less. That means that the sequence the thread is going to take has to be worked out before you start – it’s rather like those children’s puzzles in which you have to find the path from A to B without crossing any square twice. I’m delighted with my new curtains and certainly appreciate the work that’s gone in to them.