Thursday, 21 September 2017

Battle of Britain response lace design

I’ve been busy this week working on my response to the Battle of Britain commemorative lace panel. I’ve decided to make three thin panels rather than one large one, as in the original, for two main reasons. It will make mine different from the original, after all I’m not trying to make a replica I’m producing a new response to it, and it will make it much easier to work. It also allows some flexibility in hanging as the panels can then be displayed next to each other or apart. I’m incorporating digitally printed images of the bomb scenes in the original, showing how they appear today, and all those pictures have now been taken and digitally amended except for one which I’ve planned to do next week. I’ve now finalised the design and bought all the materials and have started working on the net. The design is mainly needle run lace but will also include some Carrickmacross techniques as well as some silk paper and some counted thread work. I’m now drawing up a schedule for those inclusions as they can be made and worked on away from the frame I’m using for the main net. 

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

‘Unconventional’ lace

Coming across this machine embroidered lace recently set me thinking how many types of ‘unconventional’ lace there are. Most people when they think of lace don’t really consider how it’s made, they just like its appearance. Giving talks about lace I find that most people have heard about bobbin lace but far fewer know about needle lace. Many have come across knitted or crocheted lace through domestic lace they’ve seen at home, such as doilies, tablecloths, bedspreads and shawls, made by their mother or grandmother. Also many people have heard of tatting but don’t actually know what it is, and often mistake bobbin lace for tatting. The lace that most people probably come across every day is machine lace in contemporary clothing, curtains, and napery. Again this can be made in a variety of ways, each giving a different style of lace, just think of the Raschels, Barmen, Leavers and curtain lace machines, as well as embroidery techniques like the Schiffli or Cornely machines, and woven laces like Madras. I think my initial reaction to the embroidered lace was that of a lacemaker trying to classify it – but I realise that the beauty of the lace is what really counts rather than the technique used!  

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Draughting the Battle of Britain lace panel

Now I’ve had the chance to study the Battle of Britain commemorative lace panel, as well as the paintings the designer made from the original tracings, I’m impressed by the way the design was simplified for the lace panel. Harry Cross, the designer of the lace, would have produced his design and then handed it over to the draughtsmen who interpreted it into the instructions for the lace machine. Designers and draughtsmen always worked closely together as the success of a design depended on their mutual understanding of the effect the designer was trying to attain and what could be achieved using the lace machine. This mutual regard is expressed in the panel as Harry Cross includes his own name, as the designer, at the top of the panel, as well as the names of the two draughtsmen, J W Herod and W R Jackson. Mr Herod began the draughting of the panel but sadly died before it was completed so Mr Jackson took over the task. I was particularly interested in the way the New Zealand silver fern, pictured above was interpreted for the panel. The original design (based on the painting by Harry Cross) is quite intricate and subtly shaded and includes many overlapping leaves, which I thought would be difficult to transfer into lace, but even though the draughtsmen have simplified the shapes they have still managed to retain the outline and delicacy of the plant, which is a great testament to their skill.

Friday, 1 September 2017

1831 lace fashions

Two more lovely illustrations from my Ladies magazine of 1831 showing a public promenade dress and an evening dress. Even though the walking dress includes a ruff it disappointingly has no lace – the ruff is made of cambric ‘lightly embroidered around the edge’. The evening dress includes plenty of blonde lace however, around the skirt and the neckline and at the end of each sleeve. The fashion correspondent also notes that she has seen some very pretty morning caps ‘made in imitation of the French blonde de fil’ with short lappets descending from the ears which may be tied or left loose ‘at the pleasure of the wearer’. She continues that the ‘crown is of the horseshoe shape’ and the caps are trimmed with small ribbon bows ‘mingled with the lace in front’ with a larger bow at the back. She doesn’t supply an illustration but I think it must have resembled the morning cap in my blog post of 21 June which also shows a mixture of lace and ribbons.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Battle of Britain lace flora

I’ve been studying the flowers and leaves Harry Cross used in his design for the Battle of Britain commemorative lace panel, to get some inspiration for my contemporary response to it. Apart from being amazed by the elegance with which he depicts them I’ve been making a list and found roses, thistles, shamrocks and daffodils representing the four countries of the UK. He also includes plants representing the air forces mentioned on the panel, so we have maple leaves for Canada, protea for South Africa, wattle for Australia, and fern leaves for New Zealand. The panel also includes acorns and what is generally described as wheat or corn along the outer edge, although it does look more like barley with its long ‘whiskers’ fanning out. The image shows some thistles, corn and shamrocks all beautifully drawn and shaded. I need to try drawing some myself now and deciding how to incorporate them into my design.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Second lace study day

Gail Baxter and I have just run another lace study day for the Crafts Study Centre at Farnham. We had a lovely group of people most of whom were crafts people but not lacemakers. We looked at lace from the Textile collection at the University for the Creative Arts, which includes samples of most types of lace, of varying qualities. We began the day by looking at the different types of bobbin laces, then studied some needlelace pieces, including some amazingly fine hollie point, and some very nice Point de Gaze. We then moved on to some mixed laces, like the one in the picture, which includes bobbin lace motifs joined with needlelace ground. After that we studied some of the Irish laces – Limerick, Carrickmacross and crochet as well as some filet lace. We ended the day by studying some very fine examples of knitted Shetland lace and looking at some examples of different types of machine made lace. By the end of the day we had managed to cover most types of lace and had given the participants a good overview of the many different ways of making lace.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Lace wedding veils

I’ve just bought a small book about wedding fashions and was interested to see what it said about veils. It begins by discussing the weddings of Queen Victoria’s family and says that the veil Princess Alice wore in 1862 was designed by her father Prince Albert, although sadly he died before the wedding. The photograph in the book is not very clear but I did track the veil down in the Royal Collection and it appears more like a shawl in shape, with little gathering. She wore it thrown back from the face with orange blossom in her hair. When Princess Alexandra married Prince Edward a year later she and her bridesmaids all wore veils falling over the backs of their heads from wreaths of flowers. This fashion often made it difficult to distinguish the bride (see the image above), however by the end of the century it was generally only the bride who wore a veil and the bridesmaids wore hats. In 1871, Princess Louise wears a similar style of veil to her sister also hanging from the back of her head with flowers at the front. All the royal brides wore white although many ordinary women just wore their best dress whatever the colour with a bonnet or veil. I’m looking forward to finding out more.