Crafty club is ‘batty about lace’

See what we learned when we attended this unusual club’s “Lace Day” event …

-1 Guest lecturer Nancy Evans shows a piece of the antique lace about which she spoke to Lynda Libby, the President of the Portland Lace Society.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The members of the Portland Lace Society, now meeting monthly at the Sellwood Community Center at S.E. 15th and Spokane Street, invited us to check out their annual “Lace Day” event a not long ago.

The society’s President, Lynda Libby, said that “lacers” (those who make lace) flock in from all over the metropolitan Portland area to attend their regular meetings. “But, on our annual Lace Day, we have lacers come from as far away as Canada and northern California.”

The Portland Lace Society, Libby said, was established in 1971, and is a chartered member of International Old Lacers, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to the education about, the study of, and the creation of handmade lace.

“I’ve been a lacer for 20 years,” Libby confided. “I learned in the Netherlands, from a Dutch woman, in the Dutch language. When I came back to America, I had to relearn all the terminology in English.  It was then that I found this group, the Portland Lace Society.”

Beverly Davis, a lacer from Woodburn, makes lace on a “travel pillow”.

By deftly intertwining threads from the multi-colored bobbins against the pattern pins, Davis creates a lace border.

To make lace, we learned, lacers manipulate threads wound on bobbins around push-pins to create its shape, following a paper pattern. “Lace-making as been an art for centuries, long before machines were invented. The process of making lace by hand hasn’t changed.”

Because of this, many lacers have an interest in learning about antique lace, as well as creating new lace of their own.

Lace history revealed
One of the day’s highlights was a presentation by Seattle area lacer Nancy Evans. “My talk is entitled ‘Batty for Lace’. It’s about how you can use lace to create very interesting costumes, based on what ladies wore to masquerade balls and other social events from the 1400s to the 1800s. I illustrate my program with samples of antique lace pieces.”

Evans said she has been making lace since 1965. “While the technique is fun – I do needle lace – what I like best is sharing the history of lace, with people I meet at meetings like this one.”

One of the 60 lacers at the event was Beverly Davis from Woodburn. As her fingers deftly picked up and shuttled the myriad of bobbins encircling her “pillow” workspace, she described each part of the process.

“As we set our threads on, it’s the equivalent of tying warp threads on the back of the loom. But we tie them on the front. Lacers have the freedom of movement of picking up any particular pair of threads,” she said, as she worked.

Using a full-size lacing pillow, Carol Houser shows Anna some of fine points of the art of lacemaking.

Next July, Libby disclosed, the society will host the International Old Lacers’ national convention. “We expect to bring 300 lace-makers to that event.

If you want to learn the art and craft of lace-making, this group is a good place to start. To find out more, check their Internet website: CLICK HERE.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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