HEATHER TOOMER MA,(Cantab); Dip. Ed
I am a freelance lecturer, author and consultant on antique lace and whitework embroideries,
being particularly concerned with their identification, their use in costume and the history of their craft industries.
My interest in lace and whitework started over 40 years ago when I bought my
first pieces of lace and tried to identity them through books and museum visits. Since then I have collected continuously and built up a very substantial and wide-ranging collection including lace, whitework and small costume items such as decorative babies’
robes and accessories.
Being a trained teacher, I started lecturing on their history and identification at an early stage, fitting this in with my other careers, initially in teaching
but later in patent work. In the 1980s I worked with Exeter Museums to set up their new lace displays in Rougemont house (since closed) and the travelling exhibition ‘Lifting the Veil: a closer look at antique lace’ which was drawn from my own
collection and toured the country for two years. It was then that I wrote my first lace book for Batsford, a revised edition being published by Schiffer in 2001 under the title ‘Antique Lace: identifying types and techniques’.
More recently I have given up patent work to work full time with textiles. Having become particularly interested in whitework I have spent several years researching the subject to produce my most recent works, “Baby wore white:
robes for special occasions, 1800-1910” (2005); "Embroidered with white: the 18th century fashion for Dresden lace and other whiteworked accessories" (2008) and its sequels "White-embroidered costume accessories: the 1790s to 1840s"(2013)
and "Fashionable white-embroidered accessories: c.1840 to 1900".
I particularly enjoy sharing my collection and my enthusiasm with students in workshops.