Last winter I was approached by the DH Lawrence Birthplace Museum to supply their gift shop with some lace items. Lawrence’s mother, Lydia was known to have made lace (probably bobbin lace) – possibly selling it to supplement the family’s income so they felt my lace would be a good fit in the shop. I love working with interesting people and places so offered to create an original lace motif inspired by the museum’s collections.
The author DH Lawrence grew up in the mining town of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire in an unassuming red brick house. That house has been preserved as it was in Lawrence’s time there, including working gas lamps and kitchen. You get a feel for life for the young Lawrence, growing up within the class structures of Victorian England. Lydia Lawrence was determined that he wouldn’t end up down the pit like his father before him, and that feeling of aspiration is preserved in the house.
The museum has a collection of lace pieces displayed in the front parlour, to give a feel of Lydia’s craft. None of the pieces were known to have been created in the house, so although they were interesting to me, didn’t quite catch my eye as something Lawrence would have seen and lived with. But then in the back bedroom (possibly Lawrence’s sisters’ room) something fabulous caught my eye…
The wallpaper there is a facsimile of some original wallpaper found in the room during repairs. The paper scraps were dated as from the Lawrence family’s tenure, so the museum recreated the print and papered the whole room. The flowery design reminded me of spiky chrysanthemums (others have said they look more like an edelweiss) which are a theme in Lawrence’s work. The wallpaper is quite overpowering in the small room, but is indicative of the type of thing an aspiration family would use to cheer up their walls. (read more about the wallpaper discovery here)
I worked with a number of parts of the design at first, but kept returning to the spiky flower, eventually creating a spiked motif within a curved framework. The motif feels contemporary, and is large in comparison to other designs, but I really love the way the petal cross the framework and combine to create the necklace. The earrings are two motifs placed back to back, but hand finished to create a rounded 3D shape. The lacelet is created from recurring sets of motifs, joined with a toggle clasp in an antique finish. And of course, what great author’s birthplace would be complete without a set of bookmarks? The bookmark lace is sinuous, repeating the mirrored design, so the curved edge flows through the piece.
Want to know more about the DH Lawrence Museum? Visit the website for opening times and more information, including a brilliant virtual tour. It’s well worth a visit in real life too, and don’t forget to stock up on original lace items when you exit through the gift shop!