I'm just finalizing arrangements, I'm teaching an Alencon lace class at IOLI in Minneapolis in 2012. This will be a very advanced class, and I can only take about 6 students. Each one will be carefully vetted, particularly for the ability to master the hand position (which is nothing like the video now posted on this site). I'm going to use the finest old thread and horsehair from my collection, withe size 12 needles. This will be as close as I can get to a traditional Alencon atelier setting.
I studied needlelace in Alencon in 1980. I have never taught this class before, and probably won't again. Brigitte Delesque-Depalle has taught a few classes in Canada years ago, only in French. She and I overlapped in Alencon for a few weeks. As far as I know there has never been an Alencon class taught in the USA by someone actually trained in the technique. We will also cover a few related Belgian needlelace techniques.
I'm asking for as much time as they will give me, at least 2 hours a day for the full week. More if I can get it.
More later,
Laurie Waters

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Another thing to consider vis a vis depleting your stash for the class, is that the students leave with no idea how they can continue the skills they have learned, since the requisite thread is unavailable. I was trying to design a beginners bobbin course and was going to use a thread that is a little hard to find. More experienced teachers urged me not to spend a lot of time designing patterns for a thread that might disappear. Unfortunately, of course, with the possible exception of DMC floss, almost any thread has the potential to disappear. I know that Christine Springett had this problem when she discovered that a thread she had used to do Bedfordshire reconstructions was being discontinued. She bought up all that she could, and then realized that she would really have to start designing her patterns to use a thread that was readily available, so that the people who bought her patterns could work them.
I'm using old English Peat thread which comes in skeins, and learning about this thread and handling it is part of the whole experience. I can certainly mention modern alternatives, but to get the experience with the real thing (which goes much finer than 200) is invaluable.

Devon Thein said:
Dear Laurie,
Horse hair and 240/2 Egyptian cotton, also 200/2 and 190/2 are available from Bart and Francis yarns. If these were acceptable, you might be able to give the class without depleting your stash. www.bart-francis.be

Laurie Waters said:
So here are the requirements for the Alencon class:
1. no more than 6 students. I don't feel I can give proper attention to any more.

2. I will supply all the materials, and also bring historical examples and other materials for study. I am using my very old supplies of extremely fine thread and horsehair - one more reason for the small class size. I don't have enough supplies for more - in fact I will use about half my stash for the class.

3. The only appropriate text is Brigitte Delesque-Depalle's "La Dentelle À L'aiguille" - she and I were studying in Alencon together. It isn't necessary that students have a copy, but it would be helpful.

4. I haven't decided if I'm going to write up notes or have the students take their own.

5. We will spend each day concentrating on one or more of the 7 different processes in making Alencon lace. I'll also go over a few related Point d'Gaz techniques.

6. We will use the finest traditional thread - students should bring appropriate magnifying glasses.

7. Long, well kept NATURAL fingernails are not required, but will make the work much easier. Alencon lace making depends critically on supple fingers - everything is done with the tips of the fingers.

8. Neck strain can be a problem in making this lace, so I'll warn people beforehand, and we will do some relaxing exercises during the class.

9. Continental hand position is mandatory. People should practice beforehand - I will not teach people who cannot manage this. No exceptions to this requirement.

10. As much time for the class as is allowed - two hours for all 5 days. More would be much better - still in negotiation. If this interferes with other things they want to do at the convention, then don't take this class.

So I'm wondering if there will be any takers after this. But you would be missing something entirely unique. Basically I'm asking students to forget everything they ever learned about needlelace. Start again, as if you had never picked up a needle before. It will be well worth it.

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