Calais Lace Museum

Calais lace museum 2019

A Craft and an Industry

Michel Storm factory in the back streets near the lace museum

Nottingham once had many lace factories and supported industry in making lace machines and design of lace. Indeed, the art school here at Nottingham Trent University supported lace design and technical specialisms. There was a strong connection to Calais with many folk and machines from Nottingham making their way to France. Calais still has some lace factories and a large lace museum, while Nottingham has few remnants of the industry left.
(Click on the gallery below to see the captions)

I visited in December and was inspired to see working lace factories and machines. The process of making lace by hand and machine was explained very thoroughly.

The twisthand shows the lace machine operating, Calais

The contemporary gallery showed me how I can bring my design into an art setting, and the Olivier Theyskens fashion exhibit was simply a treat of darkness. Theyskens had created a whole collection in response to items of equipment and machinery held in the museum.

The contemporary gallery was showing ‘Dentelle etc…’ a year long exhibition of applied art

I found a new reflective and presentation style when I came back from Calais. The video below shows how I incorporated the two for my formative assessment in February 2020

Historical Context

Lace archive stamp

Of the items held in the NTU lace archive, many were donated via the Lace and Embroidery Employer’s Federation, and stamped as such. When working in the Archive in 2018 I was interested to see this. Nottingham is widely-known for lace production up the mid 20th century, but I was curious to find out if what evidence I can find of the other side of the Nottingham Lace trade, that of embroidery on net.

Credit : Nottingham Trent University Lace Archive 2018

Topics I could investigate are:

  • Industry and significance to the local economy, I am keen to capture oral histories if possible. There are a number of books about embroidery on net in French and German in the Lace Archive
  • Types of net –hand/machine made etc. Other types of embroidered lace, hand, machine made. I intend to interview current lace/net makers to find out about forms of net made, by hand or by machine and use this a visual inspiration for my embroidery backgrounds. Sharpe & Chapman (1996) included in their research into the 19th Century lace embroidery industry the phrase: ‘Embroidered Lace is not seen as a pure article’ (p327)
  • Materials – I have been laser engraving net designs onto a variety of translucent materials and am currently developing some embroidery for this backing. I have found that lace made from textile or laser cut paper has an interesting effect when placed between a light source and frosted polypropylene. The polypropylene refracts the light and the shadow cast appears to move. Multicoloured led lighting creates a layered shadow, breaking the light into its component colours which can look like stills from video glitch art.