Chemical lace is basically embroidery on a sacrificial background that is removed once the lace is made. The lace in the image here would have been embroidered using the Schiffli machine which was developed at the end of the nineteenth century in Switzerland, hence its alternative name. There were various ways of removing the backing fabric once the lace was completed and Pat Earnshaw records several patents from the 1880s and 1890s describing different techniques. The two main methods are a chemical one in which the lace is embroidered on a cellulose material that is chemically removed or a carbonised method in which the lace is heated so the background becomes brittle and is then removed by brushing. The design here comes from a catalogue by Christian Stoll a company that was famous for this type of lace in the early 1900s.
Friday, 30 September 2022
Chemical, Swiss or burnt out lace
Wednesday, 21 September 2022
Dyed lace bobbins
Wednesday, 14 September 2022
The other connection also links to women in the machine lace trade as it shows how ribbon laces were made on the machines in one piece all joined together. A close look at the image will reveal the thin draw thread running between the lines of lace which had to be pulled out to separate them. This work was usually done by women at home as piece work. They were not well paid but as the draw thread was waste, and could not be used by the manufacturers, at least the women could keep it and use it themselves. This reflects the use of the red thread in The marriage bond which could also be drawn out in one swift movement and reused.
Wednesday, 7 September 2022
My inspiration for research and practice
I’m taking part in the Seam Collective annual September Textile Love challenge again this year and today’s prompt is inspiration/influence so I thought I’d write a bit more about what inspires my research and practice. My research falls into two main areas, the history, manufacture and design of lace on one side and domesticity and women’s history on the other. I often combine the two with practice, for example my recent body of work ‘The marriage bond’ (detail above) looking at the life and designs of Amy Atkin, the first female Nottingham lace designer who had to give up paid work on marriage. It is made up of four dinner mats, in a reference to Judy Chicago’s feminist installation ‘The dinner party’, each has text from the marriage service and a lace design inspired by Amy’s archive of lace designs tacked in place indicating that the lace like her career could be torn away in an instant.
Other recent practice-based research includes ‘Marking time’ which is part of a series considering domestic abuse, in particular the coercion and control that is often an unspoken aspect of abuse as it leaves no bruises. My current practice-based research project is a series of handmade lace doilies incorporating text that considers the constraints of domesticity on women’s lives. Much of my ‘subversive stitching’ is also inspired by the way nineteenth century gothic writers expressed their radical ideas about women within fiction thus making it socially acceptable, and which inspired me to subvert domestic crafts, in a similar way, to convey a subtle feminist message.
As someone who enjoys gothic fiction it will be no surprise to discover that although I am interested in all aspects of lace, my particular interests are veils, net curtains and lace panels. I spend much of my time researching lace curtains, how they were made, the different styles in fashion at certain times and the designers who made them. A couple of years ago, I was delighted to be commissioned to carry out research into the Battle of Britain lace panel and its designer Harry Cross, research which led to a practice-based response and is still continuing as more of his archive has come to light.
If you are interested in seeing more of my work there are plenty of images on my website www.carolquarini.com and I’ve also written some papers for Textile: Journal of Cloth and Culture about some of this research.
Quarini C. Domestic trauma: textile responses to confinement, coercion and control. TEXTILE 2022 (published online January 2022)
Quarini C. Neo-Victorianism, feminism and lace: Amy Atkin’s place at the dinner table. TEXTILE 2021 19(4): 433-453
Quarini C. Unravelling the Battle of Britain lace panel. TEXTILE 2020; 18(1): 24-38