Questions and Answers!

As part of @OSNotts 2021 I’m hosting a Q&A on Facebook. I’ll post them here as I answer…

Kay asked: Have you been interested in lace for a long time? As a dye person I can remember mixing paint colours for my class mates at primary school.
Answer: I have loved all types of textiles since I was a kid, but really the love of lace began when I moved to Nottingham in the mid-90s.
I’d wanted to study fashion at Trent (Poly at the time) when I was at school but didn’t get in to art foundation so gave up on that idea. things have turned around since then and I recently completed an MA in Fashion Textiles at Nottingham Trent Uni (and met some lovely fellow students too!)
You can read more about my MA project on that website

a photograph of colourful Diwali Lights in Leicester

Sally: Is it a sustainable product? Where do you source it from?
Answer: I’m a ‘Plastic Free Champion’ for Plastic Free Cotgrave and am working to remove single use plastics in my business, in production, packaging and admin areas. I use Good Energy to power my home and business which is 100% renewable energy.
I make the lace from scratch myself. The threads are rayon(viscose), so are not oil-derived plastic. This means they would biodegrade over time rather than adding to the world’s plastic pollution problem. Rayon is made from cellulose (woodpulp) and does have an environmental impact in production of the fibre and the dying.
I’m always on the lookout for more sustainable alternatives. I’d love to be able to use silk or organic cotton, but that isn’t really available in the type of thread I’m using.

A photo of ink drawings of fern leaves

 Judith: Is there a particular style of lace that inspires your work?
OOH good question! I really enjoy looking at other lace as inspiration. A lot of the lace that reaches my jewellery range is floral and inspired by old lace I have seen in the NTU Lace Archive. These are all different types, mostly made on Leavers lace machines. I have a small archive of modern knitted or stretchy lace, made on Raschels machine. This can be pretty standard fare, dismissed as cheep and scratchy but even so has really interesting patterns and fills in the knit. Read more about that mini-project here

Lace design sketchbook

Bob Lace asked:  I am attempting to find a way to display our Battle of Britain lace panel. Problem is that the headroom is roughly 11 feet and the panel is 15 feet.
I’m going to suggest a glass case.

Any ideas on how to support the lace and fix it to a backing material would be most welcome.I know that panel, it’s very long! I have seen the lace designer’s paintings of the panel in the NTU Lace Archive. They had the paintings scanned and printed onto fabric, and displayed in the ‘Lace, Unarchived’ exhibition in 2018.
As for displaying it, I’m not an archivist or a textile restorer, but I would imagine if you are mounting it onto a backing fabric that would need to be inert, so that it doesn’t cause long term damage to the lace. A display case is a good idea to reduce the amount of touching, such a temptation for lace lovers! Perhaps the display case could be stood at an angle so the entire panel can be viewed from the front

Rachel: What types of yarn do you use in your lace making and where do you source them? Are you limited to only a few different types of yarn for machine embroidery?
I use rayon thread for most of my lace, and source them from an embroidery supplier in Nottingham. I like using rayon as it is really soft, retains it’s shine after washing and isn’t made from plastic, unlike polyester. I can use most threads that will go through a sewing needle, even wool mixes, but they aren’t great for the machine as they are very dusty. I’d like to try silk threads but they are expensive and less resilient than the rayon.

A photograph of some reels of embroidery thread
My lace, before it’s made!

Sarah asked: Where do you get your inspiration from?
I like archives and spent a lot of time reading about Nottingham Lace history for my MA. But for my own work, I’m incorporating ideas or literature into the work. So for examples I was researching fossils at the Natural History Museum in London and took a photo of a huge Nautilus fossil there. Two years later I came across a poem The Chambered Nautilus and started to weave the two ideas together. I’m developing a framed piece, including lace and laser cutting, using some of the poem into the design. It’s not quite finished but I’ve enjoyed the process so far. I’m going to push it further then hope some interesting lace jewellery designs come out of it!

Fossilised Nautilus
A fossilised Nautilus in London’s Natural History Museum

Sally asked: Are you happy to design following input from your customers?
Absolutely, I like a challenge and enjoy designing! Some people enjoy being involved in the process, whereas others love choosing from designs I have already made.
The design process is the longest and costliest part of a commission so I try to workw ith the customer to find a way around that. For example, the Daisy Dreamer motif, came from a wedding commission. The customer agreed that I could develop and sell the lace motif after she had received her piece, as a way of reducing the design costs.

JC Middlebrook Neck Lace Daisy Dreamer

Jane: What piece of your work has been the most challenging and why? 😊
What a great question. The most challenging were my MA lightbox installations, produced during last year’s lockdown! They are based on lace designs, but include laser cut pieces, engraved areas and led light displays. I love them but they haven’t been out of the studio since I made them.

A photograph of a lace and laser cut framed and wall mounted artwork
One of the artworks I created for the MA in Fashion & Textile Design 2021
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