Jayne Middlebrook designs and makes contemporary lace anchored in a long tradition of Nottingham Lace-making. Jayne responds to changing demands of the interiors and fashion world, as lace-makers always have. Her original work includes wearable lace jewellery, gifts and homewares.
In 2016, the DH Lawrence Birthplace Museum approached Jayne to supply their gift shop with some lace items. Lawrence’s mother, Lydia was known to have made lace (probably bobbin lace) – possibly selling it to supplement the family’s income so they felt lace would be a good fit in the shop. Jayne enjoys working with interesting people and places so offered to create an original lace motif inspired by the museum’s collections.
The author DH Lawrence grew up in the mining town of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire in an unassuming red brick house. That house has been preserved as it was in his time there, including working gas lamps and kitchen. You get a feel for the life of the young Lawrence, growing up within the class structures of Victorian England. Lydia Lawrence was determined that he wouldn’t end up down the pit like his father before him, and that feeling of aspiration is preserved in the house.
The museum has a collection of lace pieces displayed in the front parlour, to give a feel of Lydia’s craft. None of the pieces were known to have been created in the house, so although they were interesting, they didn’t catch Jayne’s eye as something Lawrence would have seen and lived with.
However, in the back bedroom an interesting discovery had been made during building work. Paper scraps were found in the fitted cupboard dated as from the Lawrence family’s tenure, so the museum recreated the print and papered the whole room with the wallpaper design.
The flowery design reminded Jayne of spiky chrysanthemums which are a theme in Lawrence’s work, others have said they look more like an edelweiss. The wallpaper is overpowering in the small room, but is indicative of the type of thing an aspiration family would use to cheer up their walls.
Jayne worked with a number of parts of the design at first, but kept returning to the spiky flower, eventually creating a spiked motif within a curved framework. The motif feels contemporary, and is large in comparison to other designs, the petals cross the framework and combine to create the necklace.
The earrings are two motifs placed back to back, and hand finished to create a rounded 3D shape. The lacelet is created from recurring sets of motifs, joined with a toggle clasp in an antique finish.