Kolkata, November 29, 2015: Am starting this page today to be able to record my journey as a Lacemaker in a separate space.
I was taught the basic flip when I was in school in Assam. I knew how to make only rings back then. This is what I used to make for many many years (without the beads) until recently when life changed.
Then thirty five years after I had first picked up a shuttle in my hands, in 2014 the second phase of my lacemking journey began. I was housebound for over nine months, due to all the traumatic situations I was going through at this time.
I tatted day and night to cope with stress during this time, taught myself all that I did not know earlier and picked up all the skills that I needed to undertake major projects professionally.
I picked up a Pony shuttle in Ooty. However, I could not find tatting thread in Ooty or in any of the nearby towns even though I looked and looked. On my way back I had halted at Bangalore. I looked for thread there and found some Anchor Laura. It is not the best thread to tat with.
I came home after many years and began tatting. The dark dismal days of disappointment and disillusionment began to fill up with the intricate beauty and balance of tatted flowers and motifs. When I showed my work, tatted with Laura cotton thread, one tenured tatter called Sue (from England), whose family has been tatting for generations, remarked, my tatting was thick as a thimble and that my work had an interesting texture. Her comment was meant as a joke of course. She did not know the reality of my world, and she had been trying to be polite while being truthful and a true critic of a fellow tatter’s work. This is what she saw.
That did not discourage me from tatting, I realized the coarseness of my work came from the thread, not necessarily from my technique.
I carried on tatting with what I had. I learned to use beads, make joins, make chains, learned techniques (from my Italian-American guru. I must pay homage to her one of these days, at least before I die, soon as I have regular job with a decent salary, because to her I wish to give something very special). I was most excited when I first learned to make this trefoil border from a friend in Poland called Malwina Pietrala. Am eternally grateful to her. This is tatted in the thick Anchor Laura knitting cotton. This motif opened possibilities for design, I began to try out shapes and sizes. I experimented with sewing threads, crochete threads, hemp.
Until after a humongous struggle, I finally had acquired a set of good solid Clover and one set of Lacis shuttle from very kind and good friends overseas, and some proper tatting thread (Lizbeth ).
However, I still did not know how to make a complete doily or a mat. After the shuttles arrived, that happened too and I embarked upon a very ambitious project which I never could complete as I got stuck doing a particular round.
Instead, I participated in a 25 Motif Challenge started by a Canadian friend. She had declared for anyone that completes all 25 motifs before anyone else would be given a shuttle of their choice and a tatting book. You can imagine how excited I was.
A tatting shuttle and a book too???!!! Nothing I wanted more in the world and I had no way of getting those here in India EVAH! So, I tatted day and night like crazy. I had already taught myself to read patterns and sought out patterns from tat-mates, many of them kindly shared patterns with me and I hope God gives me a chance to write a book about all of these people someday and thank them the way my heart wants to. Quite proud to say, I won the first prize for completing the project within three weeks flat in January 2015, the fastest ever I should think.
Considering I have not had anyone in the family tatting, and having been only tatting for a few months, without any formal training, or the proper tatting equipment and even thread, I must say I did quite well. I am proud of myself to have completed ALL 25 motifs, picturres of which are on my Google Doc and on my FB Page She Tats – which by the way someone reported as a business and had me ousted and I can sadly no longer access my own page. But if you can view the old albums they are all there.
Some pictures of those 25 motifs I made for the Challenge I post here, for you. Most of these are designed by experienced designers, two of these are my own designs.
I did win my prize, the Moonlit shuttle – God, am I proud of that!
I got on with life and started working sometime around end of 2014, and could not tat daily anymore due to work pressure for a few months. Until recently, I had completed my contract, I was at home, I could take up that ambitious project once more. I completed it this time. I shall post a picture of my very first completed Renulek project, here tomorrow maybe.
Currently, I started a Jan Stawasz piece with the help of my friend from the USA. I must write about her sometime too. However, I think because it is Christmas, we need to stop that and get on with making snow-flakes for our Christmas presents and I have to make quite a few this year.
Right now, am tatting with Anchor cotton crochete thread since I could not get good quality thread from any source, here in India. This thread although it says size 20, is thicker than the DMC or Lizbeth 20 and my lace looks thick and not lacey at all.
But I hope someday, I shall have thread too here in India, and can tat for money for some designer that is brave enough to give me a tatting break. I would love to make something big or tiny jewellery pieces with beautiful high quality thread and Miyuki beads. Someday, before I die and my eye sight wanes, surely I hope to God, my dreams will come true and I shall be tatting with a great designer.
Lacemaking is an extremely demanding job. It is lonely and more challenging to go on in a space where it is not appreciated.
Nothing touches an artist or a craftsperson’s heart than to have their work viewed and touched and picked up by wondering, admiring hands of people that are appreciative of handcrafted beautiful stuff.
So, thank you for reading my blog and if you wish to encourage a poor tatter, do leave a kind word, if you please.
Rolling on with it all in the meawhile…