Thursday 20 December 2018

Early filet lace designs

I’m hoping to spend some time over the Christmas break reading more about the history of filet lace and some of the early designs. I’ll be starting with Pauline Knight’s two books which contain a lot of historical information. I’ve only dipped into them before, mainly to find out how to produce the net background required for filet lace and to learn how to work the stitches. I have to confess that despite learning how to make the net I used finer meshed machine-made net to work the stitches. One of the things I’m interested in is whether there are albums of design sources for these early pieces of filet and if so whether machine curtain lace designers would have had access to them when producing their designs. Curtain lace and filet lace are both based on square grids and it would make sense for the later designers to use or adapt the patterns of the early ones.  

Thursday 13 December 2018

Friendship lace bobbins

These three inscribed bone lace bobbins all celebrate friendship. ‘May our friendship never part’ and ‘When this you see remember me’ were both probably made by James Compton who lived in Deanshanger in Buckinghamshire from 1824 to 1889. The alternate red and blue letters were made by drilling holes in the bone which were then filled with powdered colour mixed with gum Arabic. The other bobbin inscribed ‘Don’t forget me’ was probably produced by William Brown who lived in Cranfield from 1793 to 1872. His letters are more elaborate than Compton’s and tend to have a slight serif. I love using these bobbins that celebrate friendships forged well over 100 years ago and which link us to the lacemakers of the nineteenth century.

Wednesday 5 December 2018

Lace inspired by geology

Geology seems an unusual subject for lace but some of the lace I exhibited at the Makit Fair last weekend was a series of work inspired by geological formations and flints. It includes a group of necklaces made up from layers of free lace worked one onto the next by sewing the edge into the layer above as I worked them. The colours of these pieces were based on the strata of different levels of soils and rock and a detail of one is shown above.
The colours of the flint laces were based on the myriad of colours seen on flints in museum studies. Some of these are necklaces, such as the section shown above which links lace and fabric in a large lace collar. For this one the fabric collar was made first and then the lace made as a continuous circle around the fabric sewing into the fabric as I went. Some of the other flint pieces are small handmade silk boxes with lace lids worked round a wire shape allowing the lace to be seen from both sides when the lids are raised.
Although the hard, solid edges of rocks and flints provide a complete contrast to the fluidity of lace they do make an interesting starting point for lace designs.