Lace Challenge 2021

As the New Year and the New Lockdown dawned, I needed some motivation! Jane Fullman (@jane.fullman_bobbinandwire) created an instagram lace challenge, which helped me focus for the first couple of weeks. I was hit and miss in posting prompts, missing quite a few but thought it would be a nice jumping off point for some blog posts. If you want to see some of the wonderful work posted follow #lacechallenge_2021 over on insta!

Here’s my first week’s posts with images

Lace Challenge Day 1 -YOU

Happy New Year! I trust you’ve had a relaxing break and are facing 2021 with hope in your heart!

I’m Jayne Childs, Middlebrook was the middle name of my Grandad and I adopted it for my business in 2010.

I’m an artist working with lace and light, living and working in Nottinghamshire UK, not far from my childhood home. I work in machine made lace, either on sacrificial background or embroidery on net. I was drawn to lace by the ghosts of textile making here in the East Midlands, having grown up surrounded by small factories. I’ve always worked with textiles, but have been making lace under the name JC Middlebrook for 10 years.

These fabulous blueblondes are all ‘me’; in my studio, as a blonde 8 year old in my beloved ‘Kissy Kissy’ hoodie, and as a horsey teen. (use the arrows to navigate the images)

Day 2- INFLUENCES

When I started my MA two years ago I hadn’t considered much about what other designers or styles influenced me. So I began by pinning up a few images, a shoot by Nick Knight that I’d preserved from UK Vogue in the early 90s. I loved the jewel colours and the way that Knight used black as a highlight -is that even possible? I rarely make white lace.

I’m also very much a technician researcher, and love knowing how things work. I think this influence comes from local manufacturing heritage, textiles hosiery and lace made here in Nottinghamshire and more broadly across the East Midlands. I’m amazed by the talent and creative skill employed in these factories over the years. I hope I can reflect it in some of my work. This winter I found some images of a hosiery factory in my home village so will do a bit of digging into them. Hopefully I’ll come up with some more stories.

This design ‘trefoil heart’ is based on an old lace drawing, possibly for an embroidered handkerchief corner. I adapted the design and combined it with a trefoil pattern of similar age.

Day 3- MAKING PLANS

I’m very organised and relish a deadline, but when it comes to planning my motifs, I’m a little lackadaisical. I often don’t draw a final design until I get onto the computer. Sadly that doesn’t make for very interesting in-progress images!

This one design ‘Moroccan Heart’ was sketched out on holiday in Morocco some years ago. I only had access to paper and pen so I had to plan my ideas out first. The resulting collection is a favourite amongst fellow artists at shows (remember those?!)

Day 4- COLLECTION

I don’t have a huge collection of old lace myself, but I am lucky to visit, study and to have worked, in the Nottingham Trent University lace archive. So I have enough great source material for a lifetime of new work.

In many ways, I think the archive is the best place for a lace collection. I’m in enough trouble for the amount of fabric I have accumulated already!

These images were all taken by me in the @ntuart lace archive. Sample books and a lace chasuble, very beautiful but some of my favourite items are the technical drawings and draughts for the machine made lace.

Day 5- CHAOS

Day 6- SAMPLING

I’ve done some sampling today, but as usual forgot to take WIP photos! I design my lace on computer, and make on an embroidery machine. So my first sampling is via a virtual stitch player.

Here’s the one I made earlier. I’ll post the finished lace later, if I remember!

Additional- Sample lace I made yesterday, I’m going to rework the floral design as it can’t hold its shape as a stand alone. TBF it was intended for embroidery onto net. I just felt like trying it out on sacrificial backing…

Day 7- TOOLS

I didn’t post on day 7, here’s what I might have said…

A picture of a laptop screen showing a lace design
Image credit: Neil Pledger 2018

This is my most important tool, without my laptop I wouldn’t be able to realise any of my designs. I makes for pretty boring ‘artist at work’ images, because I’m either sat staring at a screen or pressing start on my machine!

That’s all for now, I’ll add another round up of my challenge posts later.

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