13 de jul de 2015

Lace lovers unite in Iowa


Retired Rockwell engineers Sally Olsen and Anita Hansen are obsessed with lace.
The two are active members of the Doris Southard Lace Guild, a local chapter of the International Organization of Lace Inc. (IOLI) which has 78 chapters in the United States and more worldwide.
The guild became a charter chapter in 2008, but began in 1991 with only four members. Now there are about 30 members throughout Eastern Iowa, most of whom are in their 40s and 50s.
All are women, though that doesn’t mean lace making isn’t for men. Olsen said there are a number of “notable men” in the international organization, such as a man nicknamed “tat man,” known for his tatting (a knotted lace making technique) skill.
The guild meets throughout the year, usually every other month, and in the fall they come together for a weekend retreat.
“There are certain fascinating aspects to making lace,” said Olsen, who has been with the organization since 2003.
She said people who are math- and science-oriented, as she is, will be especially fascinated with the way it’s made because “people like that love to solve puzzles.”
To her, lace making is just another puzzle, but Hansen — who has been with the group since 2001 — sees it another way.
“She likes to solve puzzles, but I like directions,” Hansen said.
Unlike Olsen, who typically will use a finished lace piece as a guideline, Hansen prefers to follow a pattern with clear-cut instructions. But what she likes most about lace making is the variety of different styles and techniques, including weaving, looping, tatting or twisting. Within those basic techniques are endless styles both traditional and contemporary.
Of all the different styles Hansen has encountered on what she referred to as her “lace journey,” her favorite is bobbin lace, a woven style.
Hansen vividly remembers the first time she saw bobbin lace. It was at Seminole Valley Farm, in Cedar Rapids, in the early 1980s. A woman was working on a bobbin lace pillow, her hands weaving the delicate strings together with wooden bobbins.
Hansen was awe-struck. She asked the woman to explain the craft, and was handed a book that would teach her everything she needed to know. She didn’t realize it at the time, but the book was authored by Doris Southard, the very woman responsible for the lace guild she would not only join 20 years later, but also serve as treasurer for six years and president for four.
She still has the book, now signed by Southard, a Cedar Falls native who died in 2011 at 91.
These days, lace making is difficult to come by, Olsen said.
“It’s kind of a niche hobby ... . The Internet has been lifesaving,” Hansen agreed, adding that it’s difficult to find supplies in craft stores.

Through the web, lace enthusiasts around the world are able to connect, buy supplies, share stories and information. Despite their separation in miles, the community is fairly tightly knit.
“We’re out there,” Hansen said. “You just have to know where to look.”
Once a year, lace makers from around the world gather for the IOLI convention, where they find classes, competitions, supplies and more. Each year, the location is different. In fact, Olsen has traveled all over the country and to Greece, Japan, France and Australia for the annual event.
“We’re like kids in a candy store, with candy that you can’t find at your local grocery store,” Hansen said of the convention, which will be held in Iowa for the first time this year at the Coralville Marriott from July 27 to Aug. 2.
Classes will be offered throughout the week, which will bring teachers from around the United States, Germany, England, Scotland and Japan. There will be a “Tat-off” competition, lace showcases, appraisals, vendors, a raffle and more.
Olsen said they are expecting more than 300 attendees.

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