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New products launch at BCTF

I will launch two new ranges of lace jewellery at BCTF in Harrogate 8-10 April. Here follows the press release about them:

J.C. Middlebrook will launch two new ranges of lace jewellery at BCTF in Harrogate 8-10 April.

‘Fringe’ has been developed during a brief time as research assistant in Nottingham Trent University’s Lace Archive. Inspired by examples of innovation from Nottingham’s lace past, Jayne has created a collection of wearable pieces with an entirely new textural dimension.

Fringe lace neck lace

Jayne says ‘while I do enjoy working with more traditional lace motifs I’m really excited by texture colour and unexpected elements in my design. My time in the Lace Archive has shown me that Nottingham Lace designers in the 19th and 20th Century felt the same way. They sought to innovate and push the boundaries. I’ve found innovation in both texture and materials in samples books dating from the 1880s.’

Jayne is also unveiling her ‘Paisley’ collection, pre-launch teaser photos of which have already created quite a stir amongst Prince fans! Both collections feature Neck Lace, Earrings and Lacelet cuff, while ‘Fringe’ also includes a textured brooch.

Jayne will also launch additional items to her popular Moroccan Heart range and shows the D.H. Lawrence collection at the fair for the first time. Buyers will also be able to see the whole range of ‘Bokeh Lace’ greetings cards aimed at weddings and anniversaries.

BCTF is a trade only show, but both Fringe and Paisley collections will be available to buy online on www.jcmiddlebrook.co.uk from mid-April

Lace Unarchived

I’ve been out of the studio working on another project for the last couple of months. Nottingham Trent University has a lace archive, which I’ve been lucky enough to work in since January 2018, as Research Assistant for an exhibition called Lace Unarchived. The venue is Bonington Gallery in Nottingham you can read about the exhibition here

Working alongside the fantastically knowledgeable Amanda Briggs-Goode and inspirational Research Fellow Gail Baxter, I’ve soaked up so much of Nottingham’s lace story that some has spilled over into some of my new work. My new collection ‘Fringe’ came from the idea that lace didn’t need to be smooth (a revelation for me) and from samples in lace pattern books dating from the 1880s, showing that designers and technicians were experimenting with texture and material even then in what may have been seen as the heyday of dainty lace.

‘Fringe’ will be properly unveiled at the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate 8-10th April 2018, alongside ‘Paisley’ and additions to ‘Moroccan Heart’ and the ‘DH Lawrence’ collections. Here is a sneaky peek to give you an idea of what’s to come, and if you visited the exhibition you may have noticed two colourful samples in the lace vitrine by yours truly…

Fringe Lace Collection


DH Lawrence Lace

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.

DH Lawrence Lace cuffWant 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!


Bookmarks for gifts

Comfortingly old-school, paper book sales still outperform digital copies in sales, as reported here in March 2017 
So, unless you’re going to read the entire book in one sitting, how do you mark your place? Bus ticket, fly cover folded in, or do you fold the corner of the page down? (you philistine!). A bookmark makes the perfect gift too, especially to send in the post! I’ve found five cool ways to mark your book. Bookmarks, if you will… Click the images for more info..

    1. Paper printed bookmarks. I love these Alice in Wonderland bookmarks from Fable and Black, available from Handmade Nottingham shop.
    2. Lace. Perfect for giving with a book of romantic poetry, my lace heart bookmark is made right here in my Notts studio. The heart is based on an old Nottingham Lace handkerchief corner design.Lace Heart BookmarkI’m also rather pleased with this new bookmark (below) made in collaboration with the DH Lawrence Birthplace Museum in Eastwood. Inspired by a pattern in the original bedroom wallpaper, I created a completely new motif and have combined it to make a new bookmark. It is available to buy at the museum and will be online shortly…Lace Bookmark
    3. Laser cut metal – Guns ‘n’ Roses, perfect for reading a ‘Farewell To Arms’ (or maybe the Slash biography?)Bookmark Gun and Rose
    4. Paper Clip page marker – Not a bookmark as such, but I just love the expression on this skull/face!!
      Skull Planner Page Marker, Planner Paperclips, Planner Paper Clip, Halloween Bookmark, Planner Accessories - Black
    5. Cute Corners – here’s an easy how-to video if you fancy making your own..

Open Studios ‘Cotgrave Creatives’

The second weekend in May dawned a bit damp but bright, so we made the best of it with Open Studio, cakes and hot drinks. The first afternoon became cool but we had kids decorating the garden with drawings and colour, design your own lace design and a good amount of chilly chillin’!

Sunday was the better day, weather- and visitor numbers-wise. Our Open Studios sign brought in a number of passers-by and neighbours, which was lovely. A local group actually sat down to brain storm the idea of having an Open Gardens Trail next year. I love the idea, although the prospect of tidying both studio AND garden for such a thing is a tad overwhelming!

Open Studios Gang

My fellow openers, illustrator Charlotte Thomson and photographer Grace Eden, had created new work for the weekend and I was showing my new ‘Bokeh’ lace cards for the first time. Donations for refreshments meant we could give just under £20 to Ash Lea School, who are providing education for kids with special needs from across the county. Thank you to everyone who came along, on either day. It was great to see you and we hope you’ll be back next year!

The photos you see here are from Charlotte and Grace, I was so busy doing teas and washing up I forgot to take any pictures! I’m waiting for more photos from Grace Eden and will add them here. Updated: Thanks also to Grace for this lovely group shot!

Next month (24-25th June) I’ll be taking part in Wymeswold Open Gardens and Art Trail and then will be popping-up at part of ‘Design at Central’ in London 27-30th June

Lights, Camera…

Not one to leave it to the last minute, I’m taking photos of my new lampshades today! The trade show starts on Sunday, which means I have loads of time to pack the car and get all my things ready.

The new lampshades are dark, in colour and motif. They feature the skull and eagle designs, made in black lace on a semi-opaque backing. The backing is cut from behind the lace design, so you’ll see the lace whether the light’s on or off! They’ll be available to buy once the trade show is over, so keep an eye out in the shop! I’ll let you know on Twitter and Facebook  when the shop has been updated.

Ernhale lace lamp


JC Middlebrook Copyright: Nigel King 2016

Lace covered concrete box Nottingham Contemporary played host to their annual contemporary craft fair last weekend. This is my favourite craft fair of the year, being busy, local (to me) and packed full of contemporary handmade gifts and art. Plenty of illustrators, jewellers, textile artists and other makers gathered together in The Space, a concrete cube in the lower part of the brutalist gallery. I always enjoy the evening preview- a mince pie and mulled wine-fuelled buying frenzy – it’s a great start to the weekend!

I designed a new display this year, to incorporate my lighting and jewellery ranges. Being Christmas I had a 2-D Christmas tree of lace ornaments, which was well depleted by the end of the show. I was really happy with the response to my skulls and more unusual geometric lace design, Sunrise.

JC Middlebrook – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

I was lucky enough to be visited by two photographer friends of mine, who took some great shots of the fair. Nigel King @NigelBig brought along his 360° camera, it’s such fun to use, and especially in this venue. Ash Brown @ashbrownphoto came along to check up on our collaborative Christmas card sales (they were good!) and took some pics with his favourite wide angled lens. He even managed to talk his way into the tech gallery for a usually hidden angle.

Copyright: Ashley Brown 2016

Copyright: Ashley Brown 2016


More lights!

A new lace lantern I’ve been working on. Available to buy direct from Harley Art Market this weekend 25-27th Nov 2016, and Nottingham Contemporary Craft Fair the weekend after 2-4th Dec 2016. Hopefully it’ll available online very soon! What do you think?