I have noticed something for the last year or two that I have been muddling around in my mind and thought I'd report on it here. When I first started selling my tatted jewelry, most people I met - probably about 90% - at least had heard of tatting, and most of those knew at least one person who tatted, the most common being an elderly relative or neighbor or nun (if they went to Catholic school). I mean, my grandmother was the only person I knew who did it when I was growing up. It was also surprising the number or people who recognized it from crossword puzzles - "to make lace" - three letter word - "tat." At any rate, many did not know that the craft was still being done because they had not seen or heard anything about it for years.
That has changed. I would say that now about 50%-60% of the people I meet at shows have heard of tatting - again with most of those knowing about it because they knew someone who tatted. Now - it can depend on the show, it's location and promoters (for example, most people coming to a Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen show know what tatting is). It took me a while to process the fact, acknowledge that things were changing, try to analyze the reasons why, and figure out how I was going to adapt to this growing trend.
I think the main reason is this - this is hard for me to believe, because in some ways it feels like I just started yesterday, but I have been doing art/craft shows for the last fifteen years. In that time, a shopping generation has gone on, and a new one has come up - in other words, people that were teenagers when I started are now the customers I see in my booth. For them, even if they had an elderly relative who tatted, it was probably a great-grandmother, and they never knew her or saw it done, so they are not at all familiar with the technique. Also, because there are few of us out in the public as often as I am - people still don't see it being done, and although the internet is a nice thriving area for tatters to mingle, learn, and grow their craft - most people of this new generation wouldn't even know to search for it because they've never heard of it.
I think in the beginning I sold a lot of pieces simply because they were tatted, and the people who knew what it was were fascinated with this craft being used in a new way. Now I find I really have to be concerned about the design of a piece, have to watch color and style trends, develop my own particular "style," and my work has to sell because people like what it looks like on them, how it feels, and that fact that it is very unusual, rather than just because it is tatted.
When I started I enjoyed so much hearing people's memories about a mom or grandma who tatted. For them memories surfaced when they walked in my booth and they couldn't wait to share with someone else who knew what tatting was, since the never came across anyone else. I still get some of that, but it's much rarer today. Instead, I do a lot more education on the technique itself, introducing this craft to a new generation. For the most part, they are fascinated and eager to learn, and that is great fun too! Of course, I still share my own memories of my grandmother and how she taught me, and then tell them how it got started, show them how it's done, and encourage them to check out resources on the web if they are interested in pursuing it further.
So, that's my ramble for today.
And now for just a little eye candy! :-)
This is a pattern my grandmother loved to do - I've never seen it anywhere, so I think she just sort of made it up - she liked to just pick up the shuttle and tat away.
Please feel free to comment below on any interesting trends you've noticed while out in public with your tatting, or maybe hits or comments on your website, or what it's like being a tatter in your family or hometown.