Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Fragmented memories

Another lace veil inspired by a nineteenth century author; this time Charlotte Bronte. Again I've used embellished machine lace for this one. Charlotte married her father’s curate late in life, but before that had an intense crush on Constantin Heger, a schoolmaster in Brussels, where she went to study for a while. She wrote to him obsessively when she returned to England, much to his embarrassment, and the displeasure of his wife, and he eventually asked her to stop writing to him. Interestingly, although he tore up Charlotte’s letters, his wife retrieved them, sewed the pieces together and kept them. This veil references that episode and those letters by incorporating torn sections of a letter on to the lace of the wedding veil and joining them in a line of stitching that suggests the life line or story line of the writer. You can see why I’ve called this one ‘Fragmented memories’.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Paper trail veil

The inspiration for this lace veil came from another nineteenth century novel - Tess of the D’Urbevilles by Thomas Hardy. In this pieces I’m referencing the episode in the story where Tess writes a note to Angel Clare before she marries him telling him about her past, in case he wants to change his mind. It is only after they are married that she realises he did not find the note, and once she tells him about her past he rejects her. In the veil, the disintegrating paper represents the hidden note as well as the hidden secrets and shows how vulnerable and fragile marriage can be. Although the veil is beautiful, it hides within it the essence of decay and vulnerability, and of course veils themselves serve to mask and hide the emotions. I’ve called it ‘Paper trail’ as the confusion over that little slip of paper leads to the path that the rest of the story follows, ultimately ending with Tess’s trial.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016


Another exhibition finished yesterday (at West Ox Arts in Bampton) and I went to collect my pieces – fewer than I went with this time as I had sold my ‘Tracks panels’, so I only had to collect the three net curtains I’d also exhibited. I had marked them not for sale as I would like to exhibit them in a few more places before I sell them and they are part of a group of nine, which I display in different combinations depending on the venue and the message I want to convey. My next exhibition is a gallery at the Knitting and Stitching show which I’m sharing with Gail Baxter. Our work complements each other’s well as she is working with nets and I am using nets in the form of personal veiling, so we are approaching the same subject in very different ways. I’ve been working on my veils for a while – making lace and silk paper for them and have just got to the stage where I’m assembling some of them so it’s exciting seeing them come together as a body of work.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Newstead Abbey

I made a very interesting research visit last week to Newstead Abbey, which has a good collection of lace curtains and curtain panels. It was so interesting to tie up some of my research into the lace exhibited at the international exhibitions with actual pieces of lace. The panel in the image really interested me because it depicted the building in which the London International Exhibition of 1862 was held. I don’t know why it was made or what it was used for – presumably advertising for the company that made it to show their expertise and as a novelty to attract the attention of the audience. As well as this panel, I saw many lace curtain samples, several other commemoration panels, beautiful classical lace curtain designs by Ashworth and Co and even some menus in lace! I have loads of photos of the pieces and now have plenty of material to work on over the summer.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Silk paper experiments

This post should really be labelled silk paper disasters! I’ve been trying to apply silk paper directly to net to make a veil with lace appearing to disintegrate into the net fabric. The final result isn’t bad visually, but I’m trying out a new silk medium and I don’t think I diluted it enough, as the final piece is still quite tacky to the touch, it also has a very glossy look to it when I was hoping for a more matt look. I’ve also realised that the excess medium from the silk paper has seeped into the surrounding net, again giving a gloss to it which is not the effect I’m after. I think that, for the effect I want, I’ll have to make strips of silk paper and apply them to the net afterwards, in the same way I attached silk paper to voile for my ‘Dust’ curtains. It’s a shame, as I thought this would be a quicker process and would integrate the lace, paper and net more effectively, but it seems to cause different problems. Oh well, they say you learn from your mistakes and I’ve certainly learnt from these ones!

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Framing Space II

This exhibition at West Ox Arts, Bampton, includes the work of four lacemakers: me, Gail Baxter, Sue McLaggan and Beth Walsh. It opened last Saturday and runs until 24 July 2016. I’m showing three of my curtains from the Whispering series and three collaged panels of lace and printed papers based on a theme of tracks, maps and paths. All three tracks panels were sold at the private view to an American visitor. Gail’s black lace rolls were beautifully displayed along two walls emphasising their sculptural quality. They were inspired by research into machine lace designers and the draftsmen who interpret their drawings and reveal some of the hidden codes and processes used in historic machine-made laces. Sue’s work is also sculptural and was cleverly hung to display interesting shadows behind the work. Her inspiration came from a study of ancient Greek winds myths. Beth’s work combines personal visual memories of time and place with pieces reflecting her interest in the sensual experiences of times past. So although we are all lacemakers the exhibition contains an interesting mix of work. If you’re thinking of visiting it’s easy to park outside the gallery, the church is worth a visit and much of the Downton Abbey series was filmed in the area - so make a day of it.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Attaching lace to fabric

I know people have written books about the proper ways of attaching lace to fabric but I have to confess I usually just use a sewing machine or, as in this case, simple back stitch. The difference is that the pieces I’m making aren’t going to be laundered or undergo much practical use so I can get away with simple methods of attachment that aren’t particularly robust. Also, of course, sewing skills vary, as well as the time available for a project. I thought back stitch would be fine in this situation, as the veil isn’t going to be worn and I can sew along the footside, catching the net underneath, without the stitches being too noticeable on the front. I’m also sewing with the thread I used to make the lace so hopefully the stitching won’t show up too much.