Lacemaker

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For me, the whole point of learning to make lace was to be able to better identify lace pieces in the flea markets,  to understand which techniques were really hard to do, and which ones simply took a lot of time but could be accomplished by a novice lacemaker.  To my great delight I also learned to identify when lacemakers made mistakes, took shortcuts, or went off on their own to make something wildly wierd and different.  I also saw the great possibilities between collecting, studying old pieces, and lacemaking today.  

Understanding how a piece was made means it can be copied

I never would have survived a century or two ago in a European lacemaker’s school, where yards and yards of identical stitching were the rule, and an errant stitch would earn a rap on the knuckles.  A simple doily with a six-repeat pattern drove me up a wall.  After the first repeat I started to change the design.  Bobbin lace was my favorite, because with just a few basic skills I could begin designing and making my own pieces.  

I survived a week-long Honiton class at an International Old Lacer’s Inc. (Now the International Organization of Lace, Inc.) convention only because the teacher required that for the final day’s work we had to design our own small piece to work on that day.  My design, a combination of a seed head taken from an Indian beadwork  pouch in the Denver museum, and a leaf from the pattern on my hotel-room bedspread has become the colophon that appears on the spine of my books, and the favicon on this website.

EMK LOGO

Cute, but not exactly suited to Honiton techniques, was the teacher’s opinion.  Make it, she suggested, but call it “Elizabethan” lace rather than Honiton.  Now all of my home-made lace is "Elizabethan", or my own invention, cobbled from whatever techniques I could muster from a Skanske Knipling class here, a Flanders or Torchon class there, or learn from books. 

Even more radical in the 1980s when I began to learn lacemaking, was using color.  White, ecru, and black were the traditional colors of lace.  Fun and creativitiy beats tradition and constricting rules any day, and not long after that the lacemaking world recognized that many wonderful Eastern European ethnic lace had been worked in color for over a century, and really were as “traditional” as the western European laces, and loads of fun to make.

For anyone interested in antique lace, a class or two opens eyes like nothing else.  

Learning a bit of lacemaking means I respect and envy lacemakers today with the discipline to master their craft, and make modern masterpieces.  I also understand those for whom lacemaking is a form of meditation.  I envy those who find relaxation in the rhythmic and musical click of the bobbins as they repeat mastered patterns. 

EMK Color bird004

"Elizabethan" WhimseyBird 

see COPY THIS for pattern and instructions

My dilettant’s brain and gemini’s temperament allow only play with lacemaking.  Without apology for the quality of the lacemaking, I offer up pictures of my early work.  May the whimsey and fun of these pieces come through and perhaps encourage those who are intimidated by the master lacemakers to try a bit of lacemaking themselves.  

What my limited lacemaker's skills can offer to others is to recognize what great fun stuff can be copied, and perhaps offer inspiration and encouragement to lacemakers today to go beyond the textbooks.  It can be well worth the time and effort for collectors, dealers, and those who enjoy living with and using old lace.

lacecurator@gmail.com  www.lacemerchant.com      219-659-1124    Elizabeth Kurella 2014