Henfield Lacemakers was formed over 30 years ago, in 1984, it was the eagerness of a little girl called Kim, living in Henfield, that prompted the start of the group.
She wanted to learn how to make lace, in an attempt to teach her daughter, her mother Thelma Richards-Carpenter, had to teach herself at the same time! needing to know more, she and her daughter went along to Sussex Lacemakers who meet in Lancing.
There they met a lacemaker from Henfield, Jacquie Tinch and the three of them started meeting up in Henfield.
Gradually the small group expanded and in January 1986 Jacquie Tinch started to tutor classes in the Garden Room at Potwell in Cagefoot Lane. Several years later, she moved to Lincolnshire and the class reverted to a social gathering.
In April 2006 a Committee was formed to put Henfield Lacemakers on a firm footing and bring the group into the 21st Century.
With invaluable help and support from the Henfield Hub, this has been achieved.
Meetings are now held on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday each month from 2 - 4pm at the Gladys Bevan Hall in Upper Beeding.
The group currently has 12 members, but it is growing.
The good news is that there is now enough expertise within the Group to introduce anyone to lacemaking. If you are interested in having a go at lacemaking, are already a lacemaker or quite simply, would just like to see what lacemaking is all about, do get in touch with Claire White on 01903 813940.
Lacemaking is a fascinating craft, with so many different types of lace to learn, not only the traditional which originated in various Counties in our Country i.e. Devon (Honiton), Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire but Continental laces and (very much 21st Century) Contemporary and three
Lacemakers are pushing out the boundaries all the time now, making it an exciting time.
Bobbin Lace is made using a special domed or flat pillow made of straw or, more commonly now, polystyrene. A pattern is made on strong card and is attached to the pillow which guides the lacemaker as the lace is made. Sharp pins are inserted into the card as the work progresses and the thread is worked around these pins.
The threads are wound onto specially turned wood or bone bobbins which have a ring of beads (called spangles) at the bottom. Although highly decorative, the bobbins have a serious job to do, they tension the thread as work progresses and the spangles prevent the bobbins from rolling around.
The thread used can be cotton, linen or silk. Traditionally lace was made in white, ecru or black but now coloured thread has found its way into lacemaking to great effect.
At first glance, lacemaking looks difficult and complicated but it comprises only two stitches. When mastered, the possibilities are endless.
Lace is universal, many countries in the world have their own specific style of lace.
Recently, Henfield Lacemakers organised their very first workshop to learn the techniques of Idrija Lace, the lace of Slovenia.
Lace is a never ending journey and an incredibly fascinating journey too!
Two major fund-raising events have been undertaken by the Group, for the Marie Curie Nurses and for HART.
Henfield Lacemakers is also the founder group of the Martlets Lacemakers in Horsham which draws in lacemakers from an even wider area.
It will be celebrating its 28th year in November. Lacemakers everywhere are passionate about keeping the ancient craft of lacemaking alive and Henfield Lacemakers are no different!