In August 1992 I attended a Bedfordshire bobbin-lace course with Barbara Underwood at Knuston Hall, Northamptonshire. There I discovered the almost total freedom offered by advanced Bedfordshire techniques to add and remove pairs, change direction and generally make threads go where you want them to go. I also saw for the first time the Thomas Lester Exhibition pieces on show at the Cecil Higgins Gallery in Bedford. I had seen pictures but was totally unprepared for the impact of the real thing and the depth of texture created by the liberal use of raised tallies and a great variety of grounds and fillings.
Part way through the week, when I had mastered a few new techniques and learned some filling stitches, Barbara suggested I should have a go at designing a piece for myself. Also at Knuston that week was a woodcarving class and at lunch that day I was chatting to one of the participants who invited me to look at what they were doing. It was there that I saw this carved owl – apparently a beginner’s piece! That seemed just the small shape I was looking for for my Bedfordshire design.
Illustrations on the top row show the carved owl, my original sketch, the first pattern draft and the first sample.
The second version of the pattern includes more detailed filling stitches.
A pair of owls was worked for the Mayor and Mayoress of Hastings when the Lace Guild held its first weekend AGM and convention in the town, while a single owl has become my logo.