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Join in ... with the Murray Bridge Lacemakers
Lacemaking is an art-form, but is it really as hard as people say it is? The Murray Bridge Lacemakers are here to assure you it is not.
“If you know your right hand from your left hand and can count to four, you can learn how to lace.”
That is what Brigitta Keane, Murray Bridge lacemaker, would like to tell people who are wondering if they would be any good at lacemaking.
Breathe a sigh of relief – you can do those things.
The Murray Bridge Lacemakers is made up of a lovely bunch of women, some travelling from different parts of the state in an effort to beef up numbers.
Nevertheless, what they all have in common is a passion for this craft.
The pieces they show Murray Bridge News are delicate, unique, even luxurious to behold.
At first when you see the contraption before lacemaker Nellie Bloem, you might think you are looking at a piece of abstract art, not lacemaking tools.
“Those are the bobbins, and they have spangles on the ends,” Ms Bloem said.
Fortunately, Murray Bridge News was able to sit down with Ms Keane, Ms Bloem and club secretary Josie Leckie to chat about all things lacemaking.
When did you first get involved with the the Murray Bridge Lacemakers?
Josie: The Murray Bridge Lacemakers’ first meeting was on February 25, 1991. I first joined 16 years ago, after watching a demonstration at the Adelaide Showgrounds. I didn’t know anything about lacemaking. The lady running the demonstration was from the Adelaide guild, and she told me there was one in Murray Bridge. When I joined, my teacher was Maxine Lane. She has passed away now, but she was an excellent teacher. She had a lot of patience.
What do you spend your time doing each fortnight?
Josie: Our sessions start at 10am, so we set up and get started a bit after that. The lunch van comes around 11:30, and we’ll finish up around around 3pm.
Brigitta: Lacemaking is a very time-consuming process. A bookmark could take a week, a doily could take a month. We don’t often sell our pieces because a lot of people don’t understand how much time and effort it takes to make a piece. I’ve made lots of pieces for relatives, though.
Nellie: I’ve made a few fans, I’m currently working on another one. For my granddaughter’s wedding, because she was getting married during COVID-19, I made 36 Honatin lace flowers to decorate a face mask for her. I also made her a lace garter.
What do you get out of your involvement?
Josie: There’s the companionship, and the sense of achievement you get when you make something. Also, when you need help or get stuck, everyone will come over to help.
Brigitta: There’s also the sharing, and the socialising. Sometimes we share different lace patterns, or different recipe ideas.
What is your fondest memory of your time with the Murray Bridge Lacemakers?
Josie: All the friendships we’ve made along the way and the times we have gone out and done demonstrations, like at the Mt Barker Show, the Mannum Craft Fair, or even Murray Bridge Marketplace. Unfortunately COVID-19 stopped a lot of those.
Nellie: At the demonstrations, we bring a ‘have a go’ pillow with a lace pattern on it for the kids to try. They pick it up really quick, and then the men will have a try too. It’s really satisfying to see people from all walks of life having a go.
What is your goal with the Murray Bridge Lacemakers?
Josie: Our goal at the moment is to get more people to join, especially more younger people. We understand that it’s harder for people these days, especially for the women who are mums and have careers. But we are more than happy for children to come, too.
Brigitta: We want to stop people from just sitting at home, doing nothing, or spending time on their phones. And it’s a nice hobby, especially if you’re craft-minded.
Why should people join Murray Bridge Lacemakers?
Josie: Come for the friendships and the company. Just recently I was sick, and a couple of the ladies came past my house after one of our sessions to check up on me. It’s really nice to know someone is thinking of you.
Brigitta: We’re a happy group, its not just about making lace. We share ideas, like “oh I tried this great soup recipe the other day”’, or “I really like that coat, where did you get it?”, or “do you know any good plumbers in the area?” It’s about socialising, talking to everyone about anything. If you know your right hand from your left hand and can count to four, you can learn how to lace.
Nellie: If you’ve never laced before and you want to come and try, we have plenty of equipment. Come for a few sessions and see how you go, and if you like it, you can join the Australian Lace Guild. When you want to buy your own equipment, we can help you with that too; we know all the suppliers. It’s about getting out, and having company.
For more information, contact secretary Josie Leckie on 0417 896 629
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