Wednesday 26 September 2018

Lace pillows

This roller pillow is one of my favourites for demonstrating with as it shows off the lace and bobbins nicely and, because of the roller, doesn’t require any tricky moving up when you have people watching you! If I’m working on something smaller or thinner I use my travel pillow, basically because it’s portable so I can take it with me and work on my lap. It’s a block pillow so it’s also easy to move up the lace as you work, although because of it’s size the amount you can do before having to move up is limited. For bigger pieces I have a lovely block pillow, which has three large blocks running all the way down the centre. I find that one is quite versatile but it does have to be supported on a table. If I’m making something very large I use a huge piece of polystyrene covered in plastic and a cloth – I find bits come off it if it isn’t covered. I also use polystyrene if the lace I’m making is going to be stiffened and in that case I cover the pillow in plastic as well as the pattern if I’m using one. I have tried other pillows in the past, such as bolster and domed types, but my lace seems to be better suited to something flat that can be moved up easily.

Thursday 20 September 2018

Corner design for lace or embroidery

I found this lovely little corner design for sale in Bruges and bought it along with some other design pieces. I don’t know if it was designed for lace or embroidery but the principles of design are the same. I think the flower motif has been cleverly drawn in an up-sweeping line so that it can be used in a run along the edge of the work and also fills the space in the corner to move seamlessly on to the next run of flowers. In effect there is no need to alter the design for the corner. However, what I find surprising is that it hasn’t been very accurately drawn. The squares lines dividing the motif cut off the leaves at different points, and the dots around the outer border are not evenly spaced. Also the central block of the design seems to include a section of acanthus leaves that don’t bear much relation to the roses round the border and appear to have been cut from another design. Nor do the design lines align with those round the border. I think this little design must have been taken from the designer’s sketchbook and it was probably a preliminary drawing to try out a few ideas before the production of a commercial design.

Wednesday 12 September 2018

Lace decorated devotional pictures

I was interested to see a fascinating exhibition of these lace-decorated devotional images in the Kantcentrum in Bruges. They show images of saints or the holy family and are decorated with lace borders, they often have a prayer written on the back and many were associated with specific points in the Christian calendar. The cards in the exhibition were mainly produced by publishers in Paris after 1830 and were distributed at catechism classes and after church services. Many were personalised and given as a record of first communion or as memorial cards at funerals. Most of them have a punched frame of lace, rather like a paper doily or the laser cut lace of today. However on a previous visit to Bruges I saw some that had surrounds that looked like lace prickings and many that included pricked designs, like lace grounds, within the main design. I didn’t see any of these in the current exhibition, but the information board said that Antwerp was the centre for the production of these cards from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, so perhaps they were earlier designs. I need to do some more research!

Thursday 6 September 2018

Filet lace stitches

I bought an interesting little piece of filet lace in Bruges recently which includes quite a variety of stitches. The central motif shows darning or linen stitch overlaid with leaves, which are worked in a similar way to bobbin lace ones by running a long thread the length of the leaf shape, catching it in the linen stitch and then back to the centre again and then weaving over and under, across the two threads, to form the leaf shape. There is an explanation of how to do it in Therese de Dillmot’s little encyclopaedia of needlework. There is also some simple outlining, to form a gimp around the central petal shapes, although it doesn’t follow the outline of the linen stitch very accurately! The central motif is ringed by loop stitch in a finer thread which is worked in one direction by looping the thread over the square meshes leaving a loop between stitches which is then worked through on the return journey in the opposite direction. You can also see some star shapes in the photo which are made by loping the thread round the square mesh in a lazy daisy fashion. I was also intrigued to see that the ends of the threads are knotted off quite crudely in places – I suspect the worker was being paid piece rates and was hoping no one would be laundering the finished mat so it wouldn’t unravel.