Wednesday 30 January 2019

Lace curtain design

I’ve been looking at lace curtain designing again this week, in particular floral designs and how they were used in border patterns. The curtains in the image are from the Peach and Sons catalogue from 1904 and many of them have floral borders. Some are very stylised while others are quite naturalistic and flowing. Books of the time that taught design to students were insistent on drawing from nature as well as from memory and then developing those images into designs. In fact Owen Jones who wrote the Grammar of Ornament (the mainstay of teaching and good taste at the time) considered nature the best designer of all.

Friday 25 January 2019

Amy Atkin the first female Nottingham machine lace designer

I’m very excited about my new lace project researching the life and work of Amy Atkin, who claimed to be the first woman to design Nottingham machine lace in the early 1900s. I first came across Amy in 2008 at an exhibition of her work in the Nottingham Castle Museum, in conjunction with a lovely exhibition entitled Prickings by Catherine Bertola. I have been interested in her ever since and have now seen her designs at Newstead Abbey where they are held as part of the Collection of Nottingham City Museums. Amy trained at the Nottingham Art School in the early 1900s and was a designer for about 10 years before her marriage brought her career to an end – as was the case for most women at the time. My project will involve academic research into Amy’s career and lace design in the early twentieth century. I’ll also include a practice response to the research as well – probably involving needle run lace on machine net. I’m interested to know more about Amy and lace design in the early 1900s so if any readers have any more information I would be delighted to hear from you – please just add a comment here. The image is one of Amy’s designs and belongs to the Collection of Nottingham City Museums.

Wednesday 23 January 2019

Needle lace bags

I made a series of little needle lace bags a while ago and have recently been photographing them. They were easy shapes to work on and carry around to take up when I had an odd moment to spare for lacemaking. The backs are simple corded buttonhole stitch, worked fairly loosely to give an open appearance. The fronts are all different but are much thicker and textural with thicker cordonets.
I also had fun making up different types of ‘handles’ for them. Some have chunky cordonets worked into loops at the top of the bag, some are plaited, and others have bound threads held in place by decorative knots. They’re all made in shades of yellow, are the same size and have a long tassel at the base so although they are all different they form a group for exhibiting.

Wednesday 16 January 2019

Renaissance lace patterns

I’ve been looking at the similarities between old filet lace patterns and the designs used in nineteenth century machine lace curtains. Both are based on a square grid and it seems reasonable to think the curtain designers may have based some of their designs on old patterns. This week I’ve been looking at the little book of Renaissance patterns for lace and embroidery by Federico Vinciolo. It was originally published in 1587 and contains designs for reticella needlelace as well as grid designs suitable for filet lace or cross stitch. Vinciolo was a Venetian designer who went to France, probably at the request of Catherine de Medici, where he had the monopoly on manufacturing lace ruffs. His designs cover an array of styles including geometric, floral and the more pictorial designs shown here of a stag and squirrel, and the goddess of flowers representing spring.

Wednesday 9 January 2019

Lacer threads in machine lace

Lacer threads are used in machine lace production to allow bands of narrow edgings to be made as one continuous piece which can then be separated later in production. This allows the edgings to be handled as one piece for procedures such as scouring and dyeing, rather than having to cope with a tangle of thin ribbons of lace. Pat Earnshaw discusses lacer threads in her book about machine lace and notes that the most important thing about a lacer thread is that it can be easily removed.
She says this can be done in three ways. First is to use a rover or straight knitted pillar which unravels when one end is pulled. Second is to use a rover that is made of a different yarn from the rest of the lace so it can be chemically removed by immersing in a solvent. Third is an inlay or draw thread which can be pulled out easily and these are the ones used in the examples here. This removal of the thread was called drawing and was traditionally carried out by young women, either working in the factory or at home as piece work.