Gil Dye is a dabbler; she has had an interest in constructed textiles since she made her first piece of crochet at the age of seven and has since mastered the basics of a wide range of lace techniques. She enjoys the way these techniques relate to each other and to other skills such as braiding, and how they can be mixed and matched, using traditional threads or contemporary materials.
For the past twenty-five years Gil has been actively researching early bobbin lace, attempting to draw together what is known about sixteenth and seventeenth century lace in England. This is proving a fascinating study and she would love to hear of portraits and examples of early lace outside the obvious museums and galleries.
Recreating surviving examples and lace on portraits has revealed the freedom with which early lacemakers worked within the fashion constraints of the time – and there are many ‘lost’ techniques which could well find a place in Gil’s future work. The gold lace on the stole (below) is based on that on a seventeenth century sash in the Middleton collection in Nottingham and the pattern for the saffron-dyed fan is adapted from the black lace on a portrait of Anne of Denmark.
Gil is keen to pass on her knowledge to new and experienced lace makers. The Spring hanging was worked for A Beginner’s Guide to Bobbin Lace, written with Adrienne Thunder. She has written many articles for the Lace Guild’s magazine (Lace) and other publications and has completed a series of five small books on Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Lace (see her website: www.earlylace.wordpress.com.) Gil teaches regular classes near her home in Northumberland and welcomes invitations to lead specialist early lace workshops anywhere in the world.
Hidden is a collaborative piece worked with the wood-turner Derrick Earnshaw as part of the 2000/2 Onetree project, where a single oak tree provided the raw material for everything from a smoked ham to an inlayed cocktail cabinet, created by a wide range of craftspeople. On a smaller scale Gil has been a medal winner in the miniatures section of the Lace Guild’s triennial competition with Arctic Tern in 2010, White Elephant meets White Mouse in 2013 and One Foot on the Housing Ladder in 2016.
Current projects include preparation of 'Lace identification - a practical guide' in collaboration with Jean Leader, due to be published by Crowood Press early in 2021. This book concentrates on lace made since the end of the eighteenth century - the time when machines were beginning to compete with handmade lace, so includes many of the craft laces (knitting, crochet, tatting etc), machine lace and lace made in our lifetimes. Among her distractions in 2019 was discovering how widely known is the technique of 'spool knitting' known in the UK as 'knitting Nancy' or 'French knitting', but with many other names, she also explored the 18th century craft of knotting, having been intrigued by a Sevres shuttle in the Harley Gallery in Nottinghamshire. Distractions permitting, Gil is hoping in the coming year to return to her attempt to discover how the change was made in the 1630s from open plaited laces to ones with wide areas of cloth stitch.