Today’s prompt for the mid year lace challenge is ‘lockdown lace’ which made me consider the lace I have made since lockdown for the Covid 19 virus began in March. I started off by finishing the pieces I was working on before the virus struck. This was quite a large body of work inspired by Amy Atkin and other early twentieth century women who were obliged to leave work on marriage. It is made up of four table mats with needlerun lace inserts tacked in place in a reference to Judy Chicago’s Dinner party. That project was underway before the virus struck but lockdown did give me the time to complete it during that glorious weather we had in spring. After that my thoughts turned to designing future projects. One is a group endeavour inspired by a research trip to Japan last year. My pieces will include a three dimensional bobbin sculpture and two needlerun lace panels. The other is another lace doily including wording for which I’ve been researching tape lace. However I think my real lockdown lace is the bobbin lace I’ve been making for the fan series I started years ago. I made the first fan inspired by the element water for an exhibition at Valtopina and had always intended to make fans based on the other three elements. Well, lockdown has given me the time to make the lace for fire and air and I now have the bobbins wound for earth. I would never have got round to making them if it hadn’t been for the lockdown!
Wednesday 22 July 2020
The Battle of Britain commemorative machine lace panel made in the mid 1940s will be back on display at the Nottingham Castle Museum next year in the new lace exhibition. However if you can’t wait that long, one of the panels is on permanent display at Bentley Priory Museum in Stanmore, London. The reason I’m blogging about it today is because I’m taking part in Jane Fulman’s lace challenge on Instagram and today’s prompt is ‘grounded’. A panel about an airborne battle may seem a strange choice for grounded but in fact I’m referring to the numerous ground stitches within the panel which give it such a sense of shading and three dimensionality. For example the wheat ears include five different stitches and even the shamrock leaves include two woven areas, one slightly thicker than the other. The image above the edging shows the ruin of St Clement Danes, which was devastated by incendiary bombs in 1941. It has since been rebuilt and dedicated to the RAF. The level of shading on this, and the other images depicting the bombing of London, is amazing and allows the details of the scenes to be shown. The Battle of Britain panel celebrates the bravery of those who took part in the battle but also celebrates the skill of the machine lacemakers who made the panel.
Wednesday 15 July 2020
I made the first fan in this series for an exhibition at Valtopina Lace and Embroidery Museum several years ago. The theme was a fan based on one of the four elements: earth, air, fire and water. I chose water for my theme and incorporated a bobbin lace design of water droplets into silk paper to make a small pale blue fan – you can see how I did it in a blog I wrote in September 2014.
I was pleased with the water fan and decided that I’d like to make a series of three more fans for the other elements. I made the ‘fire’ lace a while ago in red and orange threads but then got diverted into other projects and put the other pieces to one side. Looking through some images of my lace the other day I came across one of the water fan and as I have nothing on my pillow at the moment I decided to make the lace for the air and earth versions. I’ve now chosen a palette of grey, silver and neutral threads for air, and brown, copper and green ones for earth and have finally started on the lace.
Wednesday 8 July 2020
I designed and made this tape lace dress ornament a while ago and as I’ve been studying some Russian lace recently I was reminded of it. Much Russian lace is based on tapes or ribbons of lace arranged very cleverly to form intricate patterns. One of its advantages is that you only use a few pairs of bobbins at any one time so it is fairly quick but the disadvantage is that you have to keep joining parts of the lace to each other, something that isn’t necessary in continuous laces.
My design is a contemporary lace collar in broadly a triangular shape with a curved neck side and a point at the base. It is made up of one continuous braid that curves throughout the entire design, sometimes getting wider or narrower, and every so often branching out into leaves or plaits. I’ve been thinking about making lace mats using a similar technique so thought I’d revisit my previous attempts and get some expert advice. I’ve been looking at Bridget Cook’s book on Russian lace making for some tips on joining techniques and using fillings and I’ve found some useful videos online so I’ve got plenty of resources to get started with.
Wednesday 1 July 2020
I love this design for a lace curtain by Marcel Tuquet that I found in a loose-leaf portfolio of designs published by Christian Stoll of Plauen because it has an unfinished look and shows how the design is built up in sections. The curtains are undated but I think this one probably comes from about 1900. The designs also have doodles round the margins, which suggests that they were used as inspiration by lace designers in Nottingham, which is where I found these. This design follows the layout for designing lace curtains set out by Arthur Silver in his instructions for fabric design students in 1893 and consists of a central design, borders and insertions. The central panel in this case is based on a free design that is not symmetrical on either side of the central fold. The bottom border is slightly wider than the side borders but contains the same elements just in different proportions. The delicate three-point flame shapes and lines are also mirrored in the central design linking the two aspects together. There is also a wide insertion between the side border and the central design made up of delicate flowers and leaf shapes that reflect those in the central panel. These separate elements are all beautifully drawn and cleverly linked together forming a very pleasing lace curtain design.