Whitework

It may be a reaction against all that cochineal that I’ve been using recently, but I found I felt very much like concentrating on white for a while. I’ve been away from home for a few days, with just a limited range of materials. I’ve got a box full of various white fabrics: silk, linen, gauze, calico, silk velvet. And a box of threads (see photo). And a small box of lace, which I love. Years ago, when my children were very small and I was at home most of the time with them, I used to get time off on a Monday evening to go to a lace-making class. And then, at intervals during the week, I’d find time to make a tiny bit of lace. But it’s very time-consuming making bobbin lace, and once I started full-time work I really didn’t have any spare time for it. However, it’s left me with a diminishing legacy of hand-made lace which I use occasionally in projects. It’s lovely to incorporate materials with which you have a very close connection. And there are few connections closer than a thing of beauty which you’ve made yourself using only fine thread. Threads for whitework

I’ve probably mentioned before that I’m interested in the crazy patchwork that was in vogue in Victorian times. Rather garish, some of it, but an interesting example of the whole being greater than the sum of the very tiny parts. I thought it would be interesting to strip all the colour out of this style of work and to produce a piece using only white or off-white materials. Without colour, the only scope for interest is texture and the minimal contrast provided by the neutrals. You’ll see that I perhaps didn’t quite manage this: the neutral linen comes out looking surprisingly dark in contrast to the white, and I used the silvery pale grey silk gauze folded in four, so it too looks quite dark. But mostly it’s white. In the bottom of my tin of white and off-white threads I found a few beads and a washer or two so I’ve incorporated them as well. This was not a particularly taxing piece to do. I put very little thought into composition (it’s crazy patchwork, after all), and just added embellishments as they occurred to me. But I did enjoy it making it very much. Whitework - crazy patchwork - detailWhitework - crazy patchwork

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