Lacemaker Louise West crowdfunds for tech to transform tradition

Derby-based lace designer and maker Louise West has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to buy equipment to modernise the processes involved in the heritage craft.

A contemporary lace designer creating patterns using traditional bobbin techniques West is keen to make the heritage craft accessible to more people through using technology to transform the tradition. Based at Friar Gate Studios West runs workshops on lacemaking and also designs and makes original pieces of lace, and lace jewellery, based on her own and heritage designs.

Having worked with a laser cutter during her studies in 2006 the experience gained as a professional designer has enabled her to see the potential the technology brings in opening up the craft to more people, and easing the complex and time-consuming preparation which is crucial to creating good lace.

Writing on the crowdfunder page West said, “I have seen the problems that students face in struggling with the preparation, when all they want to do is get on and make lace. Pricking patterns carefully and accurately is a very time consuming process and one that puts off many people. They rush the process, make an inaccurate pricking and then their lace is not as good as it could be.

“I have spent many hours in trying to produce a good pricking, and still sometimes not getting it as good as I would like. Some patterns such as the large collars that I have done have taken up to 20 hours to make the pricking, even the smallest of patterns can take an hour or more to do a good accurate pricking.

“This process saves a huge amount of time on your part and gives a more accurate pricking to work with, helping to improve your lacemaking.”

The fund aims to raise £7,500 to buy a laser cutter, laser printer and associated software in order to create ready-to-lace patterns. Launching earlier in March the campaign has already reached 17% of its target through contributions from more than twenty backers.

Comments from those supporting the campaign include those recognising how the ready-made designs will help make lace making more accessible to beginners, but also older or those who find seeing or accurately creating detail difficult. On commenter said, “I think this is a wonderful idea. As an older lacemaker, I now struggle to prepare pattern accurately. This is obviously the way forward.”

You can support Louise West’s crowdfunder Lace Patters – Technology Transforms Tradition – online until 16 April 2018.

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