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
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.
Thursday, 3 August 2017
I’ve just visited Bentley Priory to see their Battle of Britain commemorative lace panel and discuss plans for exhibiting my contemporary response there. It’s so nice to see the panel so beautifully displayed and on permanent exhibition in the hall at the Museum – the image shows a detail from it. Bentley Priory was the headquarters of RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain and it was from here all the operations were coordinated, in fact the museum includes a recreation of the Filter room where all the radar information was processed, which gives a good idea of how skilled the work was. It’s a very friendly museum with an important story to tell and I’m looking forward to working with them on my Battle of Britain project.
Tuesday, 1 August 2017
The round lace mats that we call doilies, are reputed to have been named after a London draper called Mr Doily, Doyley or D’Oyley who had a linen drapers shop in the Strand in London. There is a reference to him in the Spectator magazine of 1712 selling ‘stuff as might at once be cheap and genteel’. Another writer mentions that the draper’s shop existed until 1850. Originally, doily may have been a woollen material, the name being derived from dwaele, the Dutch word for towel. However in the eighteenth century, the usage changed to denote a small piece of fabric known as a ‘doily-napkin’, placed between the dessert plate and the finger bowl at the dining table. In 1854, Miss Leslie, an American writer, described doilies as ‘small napkins intended for wiping the fingers after fruit’. In the twentieth century doilies lost their association with towels and became decorative or used to protect furniture. Doily now seems to be collective term for all types of lace mat regardless of size or the technique used to fashion them and the general public are probably more familiar with paper doilies than textile ones.
Wednesday, 26 July 2017
I enjoyed the exhibition ‘Air: Visualising the invisible in British Art 1768-2017’ at the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol. As the title suggests there were contemporary works and well known historic paintings by artists such as JMW Turner, John Constable, Eric Ravilious, Sir John Everett Millais, Samuel Palmer, and Paul Nash. The exhibition was divided into areas such as air, wind, clouds, breath and flight. The cloud pieces were very evocative and I particularly liked Ian McKeever’s three works entitled ‘… and the sky dreamt it was the sea’ shown in the image above. The historic paintings of clouds by Turner and Constable were also a treat to see close up. The works linked to flight were relevant to my current Battle of Britain commission especially one by Eric Ravilious painted shortly before he was lost flying off Iceland in 1942. However, flight also encompassed hot air balloons, barrage balloons and the movement of birds. Breath was linked to several pieces of glasswork linking the idea of ephemerality, biology, glass blowing and mist. It was a fascinating subject and with the promise of visualising the invisible was one I couldn’t miss. It runs until 3 September and is worth a visit if you’re in Bristol.
Monday, 24 July 2017
Gail Baxter and I recently ran a lace study day for the Crafts Study Centre at Farnham. The lace was all taken from the textile collection at the University for the Creative Arts and we aimed the day at those who had no knowledge of lace. The textile archive includes several pieces of lovely lace and other smaller samples so it is quite a mixed collection. We decided to base the day on techniques mainly to show the range of ways in which lace can be made. We started with a talk about contemporary lace then moved on to the collection beginning with bobbin lace including pieced laces like Honiton, continuous laces such as Bedfordshire and Eastern European tape laces. We then moved on to needlelace, and mixed needle and bobbin lace, of which the College has some lovely pieces. After that we looked at the needlerun laces including tambour and Carrickmacross, which led onto Irish crochet. We then showed some lovely examples of Shetland knitted lace from the collection and finished the day with examples of machine made lace and some other laces which didn’t fit into any of the other groups. We had a lovely group of participants and I hope we left them with a good overview of the many ways in which lace can be made.
Thursday, 20 July 2017
I’ve been looking at laser cutting this week and have discovered that like most techniques there is much more to it than meets the eye. For a start the machines aren’t just used for cutting but can also be used to engrave and score materials so are much more versatile than I thought. The book I’ve bought to help me learn about it is ‘Laser cutting for fashion and textiles’ by Laura Berens Baker, which provides 14 very clear tutorials explaining how to set up the Illustrator and CAD files needed to instruct the machine. I was interested to see that you use different coloured lines for different kinds of cut, in a similar way to the drafts for machine lace, which use different colours to indicate different thread movements and thus the type of stitch made. Although I love the effects produced by laser cutting I’m not sure I would enjoy all the computer work involved, my textile work is generally an antidote to sitting at the computer writing so I’m not sure adding more desk work is the way forward for me, but I’ll give it a go.