18/8/2021 1 Comment
Think of it as the difference between trying to read a newspaper in another language and having to use either a dictionary or google translate compared to being fluent in that language.
One of the key things that, as a teacher, I have experienced, is that it gives false confidence. I have had people come to me who have made an intermediate piece that came with instructions and now want to try a similar piece that has none and it is a real shock that they have no understanding on how to make the lace.
I will break down the techniques in the pattern they want to make and together we will choose 3 or 4 pieces that will them them the knowledge and confidence to attempt the piece they want to make. I will never tell a student that they can't make a piece, I will always show them how to gain the skills to make it.
So why are these patterns without instructions 'so expensive'?
That is an easy answer.
You are relating cost to the number of pages that you get.
Whereas, for most designers, the price reflects the time and knowledge it took to create the design.
So, what should I get when I buy a pattern?
Simple answer - the pattern. Anything else is a bonus.
8/8/2021 2 Comments
Over the years, it has become increasingly difficult to obtain good quality brass pins. As the industry declined, many lacemakers have moved to using stainless steel or nickel plated brass
You can tell that a pin has steel in it because it can be picked up by a magnet (that is the iron that the magnet is reacting to).
Our hands, the air, even straw or sawdust pillows naturally have moisture in them. For short periods of time, a few weeks or so, the pins will be fine in the pillow. However, the issue starts when the pins are left in the pillow for extended periods of time.
The first indication will be that the pins don't want to come out of the pillow easily, then you start to see spots on the pins finally, spotting on the lace.
So far, so good?
Not really, because when I learnt, cloth and whole stitch were interchangable as terms and Cloth Stich & Twist was described as Cloth Stitch & Twist or Whole Stitch and Twist.
Now, there were a number of reasons that the International System didn't take off and the main one was limitations on printing.
During the resurgence of lacemaking in the 70s and 80s, colour printing was exceptionally expensive. Most designers would only have a colour cover and maybe one or two colour plates in their books. This wasn't an issue for looking at the lace patterns and finished articles because most, if not all the lace was made in the traditional white or black and the prickings were black dots.
Around the mid 90s, dual colour because easier to do so we started to see the addition of blue into the printing of a number of books, most noticably Pamela Nottingham's later books. This was followed by tri colour printing and we started to see red included in Geraldine Stott's and Bridget Cook's later books.
With the opening of the EuroTunnel in 1990, it now became easy for lacemakers in the UK to take a train to Belgium and holiday in Bruges, giving access to the Kant Centrum and attend OIDFA events in Europe.
Towards the end of the 90s, access to international books was also becoming much easier in the UK due to international lace suppliers attending events like the National Lacemaker's Fair at the NEC and teaching at summer schools.
Interest in books from outside the UK grew and UK lace suppliers found it easier to obtain books from publishers such as Barbara Vey.
It was around this time that multicoloured printing took off and we started to see the International Colour Code being used more and more in books and people started to realise that terminology isn't global. So, the use of C and T became the international language on many of the newsgroups such as Arachne so that lacemakers could talk to each other and understand what was being discussed.
Having just picked up some lovely bone bobbins on ebay, I thought it might be time to offers some advice about buying second hand modern bobbins.
So here are my top tips on buying second hand on eBay (and elsewhere)
1) Is this bobbin still available from the original turner / painter at a reasonable price?
Supporting our artisans is good karma, but obviously if it's a bargain then you are going to buy the pre-loved bobbin. Don't forget to check out 'find the maker' if you want to identify the maker is
2) Is the bobbin good value?
If you have a budget, then set your limit according when bidding. It's really easy to get carried away and bid way over the top
3) Is this a private seller or a dealer?
Always check out the other bobbins that the seller has on sale. There are starting to be a number of sellers who are effectively dealers, but pretending to be private sellers. They buy new bobbins from current artisans and then put them straight on to eBay with a markup. I don't believe in Caveat emptor - Buyer beware.
If you then unsure about a purchase talk with one of the most experience lacemakers in the lace Facebook groups.
You are more than welcome to message me.
4) Take a good look at the photos.
Fuzzy photos may be someone who isn't good at taking them or it may be an attempt to cover up a less than wonderful bobbin that has a fault.
There is nothing stopping you contacting the seller to ask for more photos, or information, if you are really interested
In the past, I have had people borrow a book and not return it. So, I now simply say no. Many of my books are out of print and irreplaceable. I use them as a resource for my students to look through and loosing such books would impact them as much as me.
So, what about just copying a pattern from one of my books or single patterns?
The answer is still no.
What about out of print patterns and books that you can't get hold of? Well, they are covered by copyright.
Now here is my disclaimer about what I'm going to say next.
NAL - I am Not A Lawyer. I'm someone who respects UK copyright and am offering suggestions below as to resources that may help others. I am specifically discussing UK law here, however, if the book or pattern was published in the UK, or you are based in the UK, then UK law takes precedent. So, if your home country says that the law is more lax, unfortunately, the higher rules in the UK trump your home laws. As with anything pertaining to the law, if in doubt, seek advices from a professional.
For any book or pattern published in the UK or sold in the UK, then copyright extends for the life of the author plus 75 years.
But I just want a copy of one pattern
Doesn't matter. If it's covered by copyright then making a copy and giving it you breaks copyright. You are stealing the intellectual property of the person who designed it.
But you can copy up to 10% without breaking copyright
No you can't. That is a common quote that people say that has no basis in copyright law. If copying is permitted, it is stated in the UK and US for example as 'fair usage' which is commonly taken to mean no more than 10% but I fact this refers to quoting a book in academic work.
But you are allowed to copy the patterns from a book to make them yourself, why can't you make a copy for me?
The designer grants the book owner permission to copy the patterns for personal use, so that you can make the lace. It would be rather difficult to buy a book of patterns and not be able to copy them and make prickings.
What the designer did not give permission for, is for you or me to copy the patterns and give them away to other people.
I'm not charging anyone for the copy so that's ok then?
No it's not. Paying or not, it doesn't matter. You are prohibited from passing on copies. Just because you don't profit from the copy doesn't make it ok. You are still effectively stealing someone else's intellectual property by passing on unlawful copies
I can't get the pattern I want, but I've got a great photograph of it so I'll just make my own pattern by working the photo or creating my own pricking and it will then be my pricking.
You can and you can't.
Working from the design to learn the pattern .. That's ok, you are allowed to do that under educational purposes, however you cannot share the pattern you have created or sell the lace you have made because they are covered by the copyright of the original pattern. The pattern and the images of that pattern are covered by copyright. You can't just go and nick someone else's work. It is stealing!
If I change 10% of the pattern, then I'm not breaking copyright and it's now my new pattern
That would be a nope, nope, nope. This 10% thing is terrible and keeps being rolled out. There is nothing that says changing a bit revokes copyright.
So, here is a quick summary of the top ten myths on copyright
So, why did Adult Education craft classes collapse in the 90s? Two key things happened in the UK. Firstly, in order to teach at an evening class, you had to have a tertiary teaching qualification. Secondly, funding was limited at this point and many 'non essential' classes suffered.
Don't get me wrong. Having a recognised standard of teaching is important. However, this was badly handled by the local authorities with many teachers being told during the summer holidays that they would need to be qualified by the start of the new term in September.
The groups that started in the late 80s and early 90s offered lacemakers a place to meet and more importantly, lace days where people could come from different groups, meet, make lace together and have access to multiple suppliers.
Lace fairs were a regular fixture in our calendars. June was the Bromley Lace Fair, September we all went to Rugby for the Springett Fair and Christmas was a trip to the NEC.
The first time I went to the Springett Fair in 1988, the whole of the back wall of the sports hall was filled with the teachers from the British College of Lace.
With a lack of teachers for lacemaking at the evening classes, the limited funding was often prioritised to courses where the markets dictated - those leading to qualifications such as languages or social classes such as cooking, which were always over subscribed following the new TV trend of cookery programmes feature Delia, Keith Flloyd or Gary Rhodes and the launch of Breakfast TV in 1983, with resident chefs told people that cooking food was accessible for all.
Single term classes allowed enough commitment (13 weeks) to learn a new skill without having to agree to 2 or 3 year commitment of a qualification such as City & Guilds.
City & Guilds offered a lacemaking qualification starting in 1987 and was launched at Knuston Hall. The qualification was taught at local colleges for over 20 years, however the biggest barrier to most lacemakers was the time needed to take the qualification. I remember inquiring about it when it was first organised and realising that it would cost me more than I could afford in both time and funding.
Effectively, the course needed a full time commitment and as I was working, I couldn't complete the units in the timescales needed. The cost per year, for two years, was the equivalent of 3 months wages for me, something which I just couldn't afford.
We must not limit ourselves to just one demographic - we have to make lacemaking accessible to everyone regardless of age or social background.
I accept students from the age of 8 upwards, but have been happy to teach young as 6 where they have an aptitude.
Lacemaking has gone through its ups and downs in the UK. From the decline when lacemakers moved into industrial centres to make more money, the women of Bedford, who left lacemaking to plait straw for hats, the lacemakers of Devon, who petitioned Queen Victoria for help, decline through World War II and it's ups in the 1980s to downs in the late 90s, what next for lacemaking?
The lockdowns may just have helped to bring lacemaking out of the it's doldrums this time.
People have turned to craft as a way to express themselves and online sharing and learning has become a way for people to support each other as they develop their skills.
In July 2020, Beginner Bobbin Lace Makers was created by one person as a peer to peer group to support lacemakers. They support each other through regular zoom meet ups, answer questions online and help each other through messenger.
As of May 2021 this group has over 1.7k members, worldwide.
Think about that. 1.7k members who regularly talk to each other.
Probably the saving grace for lacemaking in the UK is the fact that whilst people join the Guilds and Societies, the individual groups are not affiliated with any governing body. The recent demise of the Embroiderers Guild and the local groups were all tied up to it shutting has taught us all a big lesson.
Just as evening classes in the 70s and 80s opened up educational opportunities for women in the UK, online communities are opening up lacemaking to people who would not have access through traditional classes, worldwide.
I think that the next evolution of lacemaking has begun and it's happening online.
Adding colour to your work can be fun and bring in a way to personalise a piece that you want to make for a gift. Understanding where you.
When working cloth stitch (CTC) the weight of the threads will give you an indication as to where the colour will dominate. The best advice is to do a trial piece, but here are some rules of thumb.
Weavers / workers are slightly thicker than the passives will cause the workers to dominate. In most cases, this is how we add colour to areas
Where the worker / weaver is lighter weight or similar to the passives then the passives will often dominate
Don't store under glass
Bobbins should be stored out on a shelf or on a stand, putting them under glass, where there is little or no air circulating will cause blooming
Not just wood, but also bone bobbins
Remember, pewter inlay appears on both wooden and bone antique bobbins.
A Nasty History
Lead has a toxic history (sorry, couldn't resist the pun), from being included in the paint on toys being used as a sweetener in drinks. Yes, there was a history of adding lead to cider to make it sweeter leading to brain damage and death and is the origin of the jokes about 'country yokels'.
Lead can oxidise and start to have a white 'bloom' on it. This is a sign of 'lead disease'.
Keeping antique bobbins in airtight containers will cause blooming.
The first thing is do not touch this with your bare hands. Put on gloves.
If you find that an antique bobbin has developed blooming then follow the advice from the Western Australian Museum on treating lead bloom.