Lace Plate Making

This activity aims to teach children about some of decorative traditions of those who live on boats.

Lace Plates
In the late 19th century people often liked to bring souvenirs back from a day trip, this was no different for those who lived on canals.  Lace plates were the souvenir of choice for boaters, boatwomen traditionally decorated their cabins with these. Lace plates would have an intricate pierced design around the edge, similar to a lace doily. Some plates had a simple regular pierced edge through which a ribbon could be threaded. The scenes in the middle of the plates range from flora to coastal scenes and often had the place name preceded by the phrase ‘A Present From’ written below the image.

Roses and Castles

A popular decorative art amongst boaters is Roses and Castles, which became popular in the 19th century. This folk art is still used widely today to decorate boats (inside and out) as well as many items found on boats. The roots of this art are unclear but it was probably influenced by Gypsy art and art found in Germany, Holland and possibly Asia.

Choose whether you would like to create lace plates that incorporate a traditional scene of the countryside or wildlife or whether you would also the children to learn about Roses and Castles, in which case the plates could be decorated using this folk art.


  • Paper plates
  • Scissors
  • Ribbon
  • Colouring pencils


  1. Cut holes round the edge of the plate, if the children are young or this activity is being held at a busy event it may be safer to have an adult do this in advance. Children should always be supervised by a responsible adult when using scissors. Make sure the holes are evenly spaced and do not go too close to the centre of the plates so that ribbon can be threaded through them later.
  2. Get the children to draw their design in the middle of the plate, this may be a traditional countryside scene or based on Roses and Castles. If the children are very young it may be a good idea to create a template that they can stick onto the plate.
  3. Colour in the design.
  4. Thread ribbon through the holes around the edge of the plate. 

IWA Branches

IWA Branches can order WOW kits to help with running activites like this. The kit contains equipment for the activities and WOW banners so that you can run a number of WOW activities across an event site. Contact Gillian Bolt for more information.


WOW Safety

Always remember to
stay SAFE near water -
Stay Away From the Edge

WOW Overview
Activity guides and resources
Activity guides for branches
Wildlife resources
Working boat resources

Contact details:
Contact the Marketing Team for more information.