Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thoughts on 2009 and Madras Lace Curtains

It's been a heck of a year for all of us; but as we close out the books on 2009 and prepare for 2010, I took some time to think back on the challenges we faced as a business, and in truth, I'm really gratified.

What am I most grateful for? All of you; our customers, artisans, showroom owners and supporters!

One of the drawbacks of being an Internet business is that you seldom get to meet your clientele, and so I traveled around the country and I got to speak with so many of you in person at shows, museums and even while installing our curtains when I could! I was humbled by your enthusiasm for our products and just how broadly and deeply the awareness of our line has become! Who would have thought that just over two years ago, when we emerged as a tiny newbie in the crowded lace curtain field, our star would shine so brightly, and so quickly? Our products have evidently caused a ripple across the industry, and I'm truly flattered by this, as it is only further affirmation of our concept of Artful Lace.

We introduced a line of lace curtains designed by Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers and your response has been fantastic! As of tomorrow, we'll be taking orders for our newest lace pattern: Oak & Acorn by C. F. A. Voysey and David E. Berman. The introduction of this latest pattern is especially rewarding; we have be displaying its prototype at trade shows since May of 2009, and we finally came up with the perfect border, thanks to David at Trustworth Studios.

So again, thanks to all of you for making the most of a challenging year. Drive safely, have a great time, and know that you all deserve my warmest affection.


Dan Cooper, President
Cooper's Cottage Lace, LLC

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Voysey Oak & Acorn Lace

About Our Newest Lace Pattern
by C. F.A. Voysey and David E. Berman

First off, a little history about C. F. A. Voysey: he was an English architect and designer of the second generation of the British Arts & Crafts Movement. Voysey followed on the heels of William Morris and Charles Locke Eastlake, and was a contemporary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Think of these gents and their peers as Great Britain's answer to France's Art Nouveau and Germany's Jugendstil.

Secondly, let me introduce David E. Berman of Trustworth Studios. David is a Voysey fanatic: he has taught himself woodworking, metalsmithing, finishing and any other skill that might allow him to reproduce Voysey's designs. He started with furniture and lighting, but now he focuses on creating Voysey's wallpaper and fabrics.
David has been a dear friend of mine since the early 1990s when I worked in the eastern part of the state and had a long commute. I would stay over at his place twice a week, and we shared many a dinner and occasionally went on historic interior design calls together. Our exploits are the fodder for my second book, which hopefully will be published in the coming year or so.
Back to the lace: Cooper's Cottage Lace has always sought to approach the finest contemporary Arts and Crafts Movement artisans and ask them to design our Artful Lace curtains. David obliged with one of his favorites, The Oak and Acorn. It's a wallpaper design, and you can see Voysey's watercolor for it here:
(David would be delighted to print this for you in any color and scale, as that is Trustworth's speciality.) We decided that using a symmetrical mirror image would look nicer for a lace panel, so David flipped it, and this is the resulting image:
He then added a pin-stripe border, and I had it woven in Scotland in 100% cotton Madras Weave. We're both delighted with the way it turned out, and I'm so happy to be able to add it to our line of Arts and Crafts Lace Curtains.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Madras vs. Nottingham

A Tale of Two Laces

Almost all of the lace curtains that are currently available are fabricated in one of two different weaves: Madras or Nottingham. Most of the patterns that you see are Nottingham: it's less expensive to produce and there are several companies with Nottingham looms. A pattern is created by a number of different stitches that allow a variety of shadings. The lace is "flat", meaning that there is no outside or inside, and the panels are reversible.
Madras lace, on the other hand, is made by only one mill in Scotland, and it is a far more painstaking process. First, a layer of scrim is produced; imagine a very soft, fine piece of cheesecloth that is woven and then put back on the loom. Then, the pattern of choice is applied on top of the scrim and then the excess is sheared off. While there are only 2 or 3 "shadings", the detail is much crisper and delicate. There's also a fair amount of waste, and the looms are much slower. Madras lace also has a "fuzzy" side, which typically looks best facing into the room.

Here's the difference between the two:

I borrowed a friend's Nottingham curtain with an Arts and Crafts "Square Rose" motif and photographed it:
And below is a section of our Hunter Rose in Madras. Note that both roses are roughly the same size:

If you can blow up the shots, you can see their textural differences quite dramatically. This blog is not a judgement between the two weaves; both are great, but it's always nice to understand the difference.