Thursday, January 8, 2009


Today my coworker, who asked to remain anonymous, brought in examples of the point lace that she makes by hand. She learned the technique, which she calls macrame or frivolite (accent on the e), in the 5th grade in Romania. There, she told me, back in the 1950s, she was able to take all kinds of classes in school, including one where she learned to build hammers and dustpans. She told me she took every class she could except machine sewing, because she likes to make things by hand. It's no wonder she's in the watch and jewelry business, because the intricacy of her point lace stitches rival the complications of a Patek Philippe.

My pictures of her work don't do it justice. Using just a small bobbin and her fingers, she makes incredible tablecloths and decorative pieces. Some take several months to complete. Often, she works on a project during her long commute between Manhattan and Long Island. When she does, both women and men come up to her and want to watch and touch the fine lace, the product of 40 years of practice becoming perfection.

She tells me that her daughter has been asking to learn the skill. I want her to teach me, too. Nowadays we have machines to make our lace tablecloths and curtains, which we can buy for a few dollars at the store. We have no need to make things for ourselves, and anyway we have no time. But how boring life would be if people didn't make beautiful things with their hands! I do my small part, crocheting scarves and other random things, like these coasters, but you can see how small my skill is in comparison to my Romanian friend's. I want to do more. If I could just make things with my hands all day, I would be so happy.

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