I have been designing bobbin lace patterns for forty years and sharing them with my lace students for almost as long. I love to teach lacemaking and inspire others to learn the ancient techniques and apply them in their own creative work. Accessible, interesting patterns for beginners are very important for attracting and training future generation of lacemakers, especially in countries without their own lacemaking traditions, and that’s why I dedicate a big portion of my studio time to curriculum building. I offer some patterns and tutorials for sale at very reasonable rates, and the income they generate, no matter how modest, makes a difference in the sustainability of my small lace studio.
During the last hundred years, when hobbyists inherited wealth of lacemaking patterns from the defunct lace industry, lacemakers became accustomed to free pattern sharing. It has worked well for many, encouraged people to learn and helped to save the handmade lace craft from a total decline.
With so many patterns in public domain, there is an expectation that all patterns should be free. So why is the copyright making it illegal to copy this material and give to a friend? It’s because the copyright protects rights of contemporary, living designers, to fair compensation for their work. Designing new, original patterns requires knowledge, experience, creativity, and as every lacemaker knows, a lot of time. So much, actually, that applying our current cost and labour calculations would make the patterns prohibitively expensive. The prices are therefore set at a lower range and as a result, majority of lace designers work for far less than a minimum wage, regardless of their skill and dedication. They do it for the love of lace, for the love of craft, for the love of sharing their inspiration that speaks through lace. Because profit is not a priority, this fact is often not mentioned, and the problem is not addressed. In the age of internet, when many people search for free patterns online, it is easy to take advantage of designers’ work. Only awareness through education can facilitate a positive change.
Every lacemaker’s choice makes a difference in the survival of the craft. Purchasing the copyrighted materials is an important step forward, and sets an example of a responsible attitude that values a sustainable communal practice above self-centered interest. If everybody contributes even a little bit, together we can build an ethical lace world that offers a fair chance to all current and future artists and designers. Only then we will be able to say that we truly kept this beautiful craft alive for the next generation. Please do your share!