Sunday, April 27, 2008

Pardon me while I ramble...

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.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Motif Twenty-Two

A number of years ago now (probably at least ten years), I purchased a book on ebay that had some very interesting patterns in it. Here is one of the links to it: DMC Library: Tatting (.pdf file) I'm fascinated by old books that have what I consider unusual techniques in them - often what you see in those older books in so similar, one book to another. This book stood out to me for a few reasons - one being that it used a lot of two-shuttle patterns - including things like josephine knots or rings thrown off chains, which wasn't all that common in other books I had (either from my grandmother or found at antique stores). It also combined tatting with some other things like crochet and netting.

The third reason was that this was the first time I came across what is known now as the "self-closing mock ring" - coined that by the Shuttle Brothers in their book introducing the technique in 1999. It is on page 32, fig. 16 - not only does the center ring look like a ring with rings on it - but the outside row also has what looks like rings with three rings on the the outside of them. I looked at it and thought, "how in the world...?" I think the instructions must have been pretty clear because I was able to do it relatively easily, as I remember.

I used it in a pattern for a round robin I was involved in at the time. I remember trying to explain how to do it - at that time it didn't have an official "name" that I was aware of - nor had I or any of the people in the round robin ever seen it before. I think I just called it a chain that was made to look like a ring (self-closing mock ring is really a much better name!).

Anyway, the book has a lot of other very nice patterns in it as well, and for those of you that didn't know it was out there - enjoy! Here is a pin I made with fig. 21 on page 32.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Motif Twenty-One

As promised, here is the butterfly from Rozella Linden's book, "Tatted Butterfly Garden." I had a very difficult time with the body. I did get it to work correctly - I think - but it came out a little too small for these wings. The head doesn't lay flat either and that bothers me.

I am very pleased with the wings themselves, though. I love the pattern - very realistic. The book suggested planning out the wings when using a variegated thread so that they would be mirror images of each other not only in the pattern but in color as well. I hadn't ever tried to do that before but it wasn't difficult and the effect is nice.

I think what I will do to "fix" this is sew it onto a filigree piece and sew beads over the body so it looks larger. Maybe I will post it again once I do that.

I will be sharing an antique pattern available on the web in my next post so watch for that.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Motif Twenty


....that's the sigh of relief that comes when you've made it through another tax season. Obviously the deadline is not until Tuesday, but it always seems to slow down right at the end.

This is why I haven't posted in nearly a month! Just too busy to do any scanning or posting. I do quite a bit of tatting in the evenings when I get home from work in preparation for the busy show season, but never manage to get any of it onto my computer.

Here is motif number 20 - not my original design - but very different and unusual, I think. It was time consuming and tedious, because of there being so many chains, but I am very pleased with the results. I will probably turn this into one of my pin/pendant combinations - so it can be worn as either thing.

Thank you to Shay for posting the pattern, which can be found here. As soon as I saw this I just had to try it - I've got a lot of books, and I've seen a lot of different tatting patterns, but never anything like this.

Right now I am working on a butterfly from Rozella Linden's book "Tatted Butterfly Garden." The wings are made with Marilee's Watermelon Tourmaline thread - my FAVORITE color of all time! I am having difficulty with the magic butterfly body, though, and I am about ready to e-mail Ruth and get some help! It frustrates me to no end when I can't figure out something on my own, so I'll probably fiddle with it a little more. When I am finished with it, it will be motif number 21, so look for it in the next week or so.