Story of Barb’s Heart

Barbara and her mom, Pat, were among the first students who signed up for Adult Bobbin Lace course offered by the New School of Lace, back in 2014. Barb was the youngest in the class, and she came in with youthful energy and an open mind, eager to learn. Her enthusiasm not only allowed her to grasp the lace basics quickly, but also helped others to overcome common beginners’ obstacles. Barb’s great sense of humour, and a beautiful smile that came with it, opened our hearts and made our shared starting steps so much easier. Like any new lacemaker, Barb occasionally made mistakes and mixed up her bobbins,  but there was something very different about how she responded. Instead of being upset and  complaining about her abilities, she accepted mistakes cheerfully, just as another great opportunity to learn. Quite a mature and wise approach for somebody who is 27 year young, we thought! Barb’s positive attitude had of course a very beneficial influence on the whole class. It helped to create a relaxed atmosphere, and encouraged everybody to persevere, enjoy and do their best.

Unlike many young lacemaking adepts, Barb did not leave after the first course to try something else. She took another course and many more. She loved lace and also the challenge of learning the traditional craft well. After working with fibre, she switched to wire and never looked back. With a bright colour palette of the wires and beads, Barb’s lace really started to blossom. Especially when she discovered a heart pattern – a half stitch tape outline with a diamond plait filling – which became her favourite design. She made several hearts, one of them in her favourite purple colour. Barb always surprised us by her creative ideas, that added interest and fun to the simplest patterns. It was a joy to share lace with her, and we all looked forward to our weekly meetings. As we have got to know each other better, we learnt that when Barb was a child, she suffered a life-threatening brain injury. Not only she survived, but she fully recovered, went back to school, and graduated from high school and college. She lived a full life, close to her loving family and many friends. She worked in her community and helped with work on her parent’s farm. She loved nature and animals, and enjoyed travelling, running, swimming and waterskiing. She liked to take photographs that captured all the beauty of her world, as she saw it and lived it.

Realizing the challenges that Barb faced every day, we understood why she would not be upset about a missed cross or twist. She had been used to solving much bigger problems. How she managed to keep her spirits high and her positive attitude intact was nothing short of a miracle. She was simply amazing.

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When Barb’s loving, caring soul left her earthly body in summer 2016, we were all overcome by a deep sadness and our weekly classes became profound healing sessions. Connected by delicate lace threads, we shared life lessons about grieving and healing, about a mother’s strength and dignity, about power of women’s wisdom, and most of all above love.  Love embodied by Barb was so genuine and she shared it so effortlessly, that everybody around her was touched. Loosing her physical presence was very hard and stirred many emotions, but despite this all, we kept lacing, and the weave coming out of our hands was quite beautiful. As if somebody was watching our pillows, guiding our hands, and encouraging us to accept and turn it all in a great learning experience.

About lace | heart | art challenge

And because inspiration is never far from love, the idea of a bobbin lace challenge was born. The “lace | heart | art” international challenge and online exhibition, in memory of Barb, will offer one simple heart pattern every year and invite lacemakers around the world to fill it with colours and love.

We welcome everybody, and especially young lacemakers, to get inspired and create! We would like to invite all of you, lacemakers around the world, to participate, and transform our first Heart pattern into your original Lace Art.

Find the 1st International Challenge information kit here.

Find the 1st Online Exhibition of Handmade Bobbin Lace in Colour here.

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