Barbara Ford was a serviceman’s wife, living in Germany, when she first tried her hand at the lacemaking art of tatting. The older German woman teaching her didn’t know English, and Barbara didn’t know German. But somehow they communicated enough for Barbara to pick up the intricate skills.
“It took a long time. I had a lot of accidents with making knots instead of lace,” Barbara said.
That was about 50 years ago. Despite the difficult, often slow-going work, Barbara was hooked, and she’s been tatting ever since. This year, she entered a tatted baby cap for the first time in Rolla Presbyterian Manor’s Art is Ageless competition. The cap won the needlework category locally, and it was recently selected to appear in the 2017 Art is Ageless calendar.
Barbara was excited to hear she had been honored at the masterpiece level of the annual juried competition. “I’m going to be published!” she said.
A Rolla resident, Barbara volunteers at Presbyterian Manor and participates in our Sit and Sew group. One of the other women in the group expressed an interest in learning to tat, so Barbara brought the cap, which was not quite finished, to show her. “She said, ‘You should enter that in Art is Ageless.'” It was Barbara’s first-ever entry.
Tatting is a disappearing art, and Barbara said she now creates her own patterns because they are getting harder to find. The people on Barbara’s Christmas card list are lucky enough to receive a tatted snowflake from her every year. Her two granddaughters, now young adults, look forward to getting theirs every year, she said. Barbara tatted caps for both of girls when they were babies.
At first, she said, it took her about an hour to create an inch of lace. The winning cap took her about 50 to 60 hours altogether. But she doesn’t mind the work. “I like to have something to do with my hands. It makes the evenings go by,” she said “It’s just a sense of accomplishment. Making lace like that is so different and very unique.”