Lace Unarchived - Handling Table 12 March 2018

In Lace Unarchived we have a few items for visitors to handle and look at more closely.


This book is typical of the type used by lace manufacturers to showcase their range of laces.

You can see the design registration number and a few other details on some of the samples. You can also easily find a number of pieces which are based on the same motif but the design has been expanded to create wider edgings, insertions and possibly even all over designs.

Taking a closer look at some of the designs you would see the variety of fillings and background patterns, even in the smallest and simplest design. Some of the samples show that the lace was being made with coloured threads as well as in white. There are also some examples of the lace being cut (by hand) to make more interestingly shaped pieces.

Lace Sample Book
Photo credit: Julian Lister


This is Chantilly lace, made on a Pusher machine. The picot edging was actually made separately and applied by hand.

Most of the pattern is created with areas of slightly denser lace (similar to half-stitch in bobbin lace) outlined but thicker threads. Larger holes are also used to help create the patterning.

The outlines have been run in by hand after the lace was removed from the machine. How do we know this? The outlining threads do not pass between the twisted threads of the lace, instead they run in and out of the holes in the lace. The circular spots in the net are also a giveaway; you can see that the cut ends of the thicker thread begin and end in the same place, if they were added on the machine there would be tufts at either side of the spot where the threads had been cut 


Lace Unarchived

Chantilly Lace Shawl
Photo credit: Julian Lister


Insertion lace has two straight edges for inserting between two pieces of fabric, in a garment for example. This piece shows how the insertions are made in one piece, or ‘web’, up the bed of the machine. The strips of are joined with just one or two threads; these can be withdrawn to release and separate the strips for use as insertions. This would have been one of the jobs carried out either as home-work or in the Lace Market area of Nottingham.

Although this lace was designed as an insertion, pieces like this were occasionally used as fabric for garments.



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Visiting us safely 14 September 2020

We are delighted to reopen to the public on Monday 17 May with Here, the Gold Ones meet by Reactor, and we have put several measures in place to make your visit safe.

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Bonington Gallery has been a significant part of the cultural landscape of Nottingham for half a century. Its diverse and ambitious artistic programme has consistently presented the forefront of creative practice and through this has gained a national reputation.

The gallery has showcased the very best in visual and performing arts from across the world – so join us, as we plan to make the next 50 years just as memorable.

Read more in our latest blog post.

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Watch the video at the link below (segment starts at 27:40):

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