Wednesday 29 January 2020

Joan of Arc lace panel

Joan of Arc is the subject of this curtain lace panel on display in Calais lace Museum. It depicts important points in her short life - she was burned at the stake when she was about 19 years old. These include images of her seeing visions, and then riding into battle, as well as her death in 1431. It was made by the Nottingham lace company of Dobson and Browne in 1875 and exhibited at the Paris exhibition of 1881. It is a large panel (480 x 153 cm) made on the curtain lace machine and follows the design of other lace curtain panels made at the time with a wide central area, two narrower side panels and a scalloped edge. This panel was the inspiration for the Battle of Britain commemorative lace panel, also made by Dobson and Browne, in the 1940s.

Wednesday 22 January 2020

‘Valance’ lace curtains

I found these ‘valance’ net curtains in the Lace furnishings catalogue for the 1933-34 season. Unfortunately the catalogue does not include either a manufacturer’s name, although all the curtains are all ‘made in England’, or the name of a shop. There was probably an insert in the original including an order form which would have included those details. However, it gives an interesting glimpse into the styles of lace furnishings fashionable at the time. Six ‘valance’ curtains are advertised in a page at the end of the booklet ranging in width from 18 to 28 inches. The term valance is used with quotation marks round it in the catalogue. The name suggests that they were used at the top of a window dressing as a valance either with full net curtains hanging behind them or as a type of frill across the top of a window with no other nets. They could also have been used across the bottom half of a window like cafĂ© curtains or in pairs across the top and bottom of a window. Three of them have eyelets at the top suggesting they would have been gathered but the designs are also suitable for use as flat curtains. They are all more deeply scalloped than the other curtains in the catalogue suggesting that they were used in a different way so perhaps they were all used as valances at the top of the window. It’s such a shame that the catalogue has no images of the curtains in room settings to give us a better idea of how they were used.

Wednesday 15 January 2020

Anne Bronte 200 artists 200 pages

The Anne Bronte p200 exhibition, marking her bicentenary, is now open at Woodend, Scarborough and will run until 8 February. 200 artists were each given a page from her most famous novel The tenant of Wildfell Hall and asked to respond to that page and to Anne’s life in general. Each artwork had to be the same size as the original page and incorporate it. Most artists, including me, chose to work straight on to the page, but that’s where the similarity ends – the responses and the media used are so varied. The accompanying book, which I highly recommend, includes a two page spread for each artist, one side includes a full page illustration of each piece of work and the other a piece of writing by each artist. Some of these are descriptions of what inspired them, others are letters, poems, or quotations and give a fascinating insight into how Anne Bronte’s legacy continues to inspire and have relevance for us today. I blogged in October about ‘Wedded bliss’, my response to the project, and my admiration for Anne Bronte, but I would also like to thank Lindsey Tyson who conceived the idea for the project, organised it and produced this thought-provoking exhibition and publication. If you’d like a copy of the book it’s available from

Wednesday 8 January 2020

Lace inspired by Italian roof tiles

This Torchon style lace was inspired by old Italian roof tiles which are half cylindrical in shape and lovely ochre, orange and brown colours. I spent several summers drawing and painting interesting rooves and chimneys and this work and four other lace pieces were the result. Some are based on square or diamond shapes, which is how the tiles appear when you see them face on, and others reflect the long cylindrical appearance the tiles show from the side view. I’ve used the same rich brown threads for all of them. They are all mounted on hand made paper and strips of Italian newspaper to suggest rafters underneath them. Some like this one suggest some wear and tear at the edge, reflecting the fact that many of the most interesting and older tiles are found on crumbling buildings.

Wednesday 1 January 2020

January lace challenge

Happy new year! I’ve taken on an Instagram lace challenge for January. It’s been organised by Jane Fullman and involves a different prompt for every day of the month – for details have a look at Jane’s Instagram account jane.fullman_bobbinandwire. Some of the prompts are fairly easy like ‘bobbins’ but others such as ‘spring’ will require a bit of lateral thinking! It starts today with ‘your story’ so if you’re on Instagram why not join in, it’s a great way to promote lace and lacemaking in all its varieties to a new audience. I’m going to try and respond to every prompt as I enjoy the challenge but you can just respond to a few if that’s what suits you. If you do decide to join in remember to use the hashtag #lacechallenge_january2020 so that all the posts end up in the same file. I’m looking forward to an interesting month of lace.