Lace maker's handiwork earns top prize

April 4, 2008 8:17:09 AM PDT
The fabric of life for Janice Blair is intricate, delicate and handmade. The lace maker's creations come together the old fashioned way and her handiwork has earned her dozens of awards.

There was a time in the mid 19th century when wearing homemade lace was high fashion among men more than women. Although that era is long past, there are those who are still fascinated by the threadwork. Blair of Crystal Lake is one of them. Since 1993 she has devoted herself to the creation of the fabric.

"I've never been competitive in my life before and I entered by first competition. Didn't do anything. The second time I entered I got a third prize. And, then I got a second prize and then I got a first prize," said Blair.

Using cotton and sometimes silk threads, Blair intricately binds them together in a procedure more than two centuries old using bobbins.

"I have a pattern up underneath the lace and as I place a pin, I wrap the thread around it and do a stitch. There's only two stitches cross and twist so it's very simple. "

In 2003, her design and lacework in a mask won her first place in New Orleans. Since she began, Blair has won a dozen awards in competition.

"In America, there are probably 5,000 to 10,000 lace makers all quietly going about our business in our own quiet little houses," said Blair.

A number of her designs have been published, including one that looks like a cake.

"When someone says they've made a piece of mine out of a magazine, I'm amazed that people would actually want to do it because I don't think I'm that talented. I think there's lots more people out there more talented than I am. But, I seem to have had some success with it."

On August 3rd, a national convention for lace makers takes place in Rockford. For information on the event, visit LandOfLincolnLaceMakers.com


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