Wednesday 27 January 2021

Wire-bound lace bobbins

I thought writing about wired lace bobbins would be a simple task but I found it difficult to determine who had made these. I think the most likely candidate is one of the Haskin family, most probably David Haskin who was born in 1819 although they could be the work of his nephew Robert. As usual most of my information about identifying bobbin makers comes from the Springett’s book Success to the lace pillow. Their image of the typical head and tail of David Haskins bobbins was what finally confirmed my identification. Many of his bobbins were decorated with brass wire like these and the grooves always ran in a left handed spiral direction. His wooden bobbins often had a distinct collar like the one in the image although interestingly his bone bobbins did not and many of them are quite fine, narrow and delicate and would have been suitable for fine Bucks lace patterns that required a lot of bobbins on the pillow. It is remarkable that so many wire-bound bobbins still exist in their original state (although you can also find them with grooves and holes where wire would have been wound, but missing the wire) suggesting that the wire was well attached and secured into the holes drilled for the purpose. It just shows what excellent craftsmen the Haskin family were.

Wednesday 20 January 2021

Black lace sold by Samuel Peach in 1904


I always enjoy looking through old lace catalogues and one of my favourites is that from the Samuel Peach company of 1904. Peach and Sons were Nottingham lace manufacturers and sold a wide range of lace goods by mail order including curtains, tablecloths, clothing as well as lace fabrics and trims. They catered for a large market in the UK and also had many colonial customers in South Africa, India, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the West Indies and China. They assure their customers that the goods are well packed in oilcloth to sustain the rigours of the journey. One of the things I find most interesting is their special parcels for particular households and occasions. For example there are parcels for those getting married or travelling to the colonies, which contain all that is needed to furnish a home with curtains and linens, depending on the climate and the grandeur of the home. I’ve been looking at their black lace parcels this week and the one for ten shillings has caught my eye. It contains 6 yards of wide Chantilly lace, 6 yards of narrow Chantilly lace, 6 yards of black Spanish lace, described as very elegant and of serviceable quality, 6 yards of narrow black edging lace, two lengths of fine net and a black lace collarette in fancy silk and braid work. The catalogue suggests that this parcel of lace is suitable for mantles, costumes etc by which it means the capes and blouses which were fashionable at the time. It was clearly a bargain but ten shillings (50 p) in 1904 was worth a lot more than it is today!

Wednesday 13 January 2021

Black lace veils

I made this series of black lace veils as part of a study into nineteenth century gothic literature. They are all made from a double layer of fine black net gathered from a bunch of artificial black flowers at the crown, which hides a hair comb that can be used to secure them to the head. The lace in the image above was inspired by Bram Stoker’s Dracula and incorporates fangs and drops of blood, which are a lovely glowing ruby red in candlelight.

‘Belladonna’ is another veil in the series, this time inspired by the idea of a mourning veil which could have been worn by a gothic heroine such as Lady Audley in Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s secret. The design of the lace trim is based on the leaves and berries of the poisonous deadly nightshade plant (Atropa belladonna) with a hint of gold suggesting that the widow’s state may not be wholly unexpected or unwanted.

‘Creeping dread’ doesn’t include any lace but instead has a trim of black silk paper and iridescent black beads like tiny insects that appear to be creeping up the veil and smothering it. The ‘Gothic veil’ includes some black lace but again it has been smothered by black silk paper that threatens to engulf it and the entire veil. These black veils, and a series of white ones also inspired by gothic literature, have been exhibited in several places including the Knitting and Stitching Show and the Living lace exhibition in Bruges.

Wednesday 6 January 2021

Looking forward: lace plans for 2021

The beginning of the year is traditionally a time for plans and resolutions. I’ve started the year by taking part in Jane Fullman’s Instagram lace challenge, which runs throughout January, and is a great way of looking at your own work through a different lens and discovering interesting work by other people. So a good start to the year. I’m finalising the paper I’ve written about my dinner mats project inspired by the life and work of Amy Atkin, the first female Nottingham machine lace designer, and have various other writing projects on the go as well. As far as practice is concerned I’m working towards a group exhibition resulting from a study trip to Japan, which will be shown in the Craft Study Centre at Farnham and Gallery Gallery in Kyoto in 2022 and hopefully some other venues too. I’m also continuing with my series of doilies inspired by feminism and the unhomely and once I have a collection ready will be looking for an exhibition space for those and for the dinner mats project. However, exhibiting is not easy at the moment so I may have to be a little bit inventive in finding venues or even attempt an online exhibition.