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Lace Making, Rosemary Green
04 February 2020
Our talk this month was given by Rosemary, a member of our WEG, and led us along fifty years of what Rosemary herself described as, ‘A lifetime’s bad habit’.
Rosemary reflected on her early influences and that she was, ‘always busy doing something’. She grew up in a creative environment where you had to entertain yourself and she began making dolls’ clothes, inspired by having lace maker’s dolls on the mantlepiece. In the 1960s, Rosemary purchased lace makers’ bobbins, a pillow and instruction patterns from the magazine of the time, ‘Home Sewing and Knitting’. Her early pieces of lace work were made after joining a course with an inspirational tutor in nearby Wolverhampton. Work was made using fine thread in those days, no photocopying or a computer, only tracing paper to hand to make your patterns. Rosemary described struggling with complex designs such as Bucks point lace and learnt, ‘never give up’. White lace, cream lace and rarely, black lace, resulted in her collection of bits. So … ‘What do you do with it?’ We were treated to view lots of examples of projects that detailed fine white Bucks lace, Bedfordshire lace, very fine Honiton lace, book marks, paperweights and special treasures such as a beautiful insert in a blouse that showed a splendid central design and fillers. Rosemary explained how she likes lace to have a function and so when she had her children, she set about making a delightful Christening gown, lace collars on dresses for her daughter, lace collars for her grandchildren (with corners) and trimmed petticoats for herself. Rosemary advocated the fun of learning drove her interest, not just what you do with the pieces so she continued her learning by going to taught classes. Working as a librarian gave Rosemary endless opportunities to access books from around the world and, in particular, continental Europe. She was able to deepen her knowledge and skills as a lace maker and showed us pieces following patterns from Germany, Finland, Denmark and Maltese lace. Items of work were crafted in not only cotton but linen and silk too.
‘I made bits here and bits there!’ Detailed and delicate examples of fine lace were passed around for us to handle: a waistcoat made in linen thread with a subtle coloured panel, an embellished Marks and Spencer nightie, pill boxes with lace inserts and a lovely framed picture of fuchsia flowers from a French design.
Rosemary’s journey continued after joining a contemporary lace group where she described ‘being stretched’. Projects were set using unusual materials or themes to inspire producing a piece of work incorporating lace. We were fascinated to see ‘a seal on a beach with a ball, a journey from dawn to dusk Helios 1 and 2’ among many other examples. Rosemary showed us lots of creative work in black and red, flowers, work in copper rings and a large pieces of contemporary Milanese lace detailing a large butterfly at the centre and a jacket and necklace. It was her love of all things Christmas that charmed us all. Baubles adorned with lace, nativity characters, angels of all descriptions and contemporary hangings spilled over the demonstration table!! Rosemary enjoys her work with the Lace Guild, as a member of Lace 21 and as a teacher working with her own group of members in Redditch. Her work has included working with silver and making unusual and creative bangles showing that lace is not only made in cotton but an interesting array of materials. Rosemary says of herself that she likes a challenge, not competition and that if you want to do it, you will find a way! Her journey in lace inspired us all to be open to the challenges along the way. Even after 9 months of making snowflakes on a project…!
Our February 2020 gallery