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Meet the Locals

The first in a planned series of articles about local personalities

Gillian Bird - Lacemaker

Interview, article and photos by Gillian Day

Gillian Bird moved in to Appleby Magna in 1966 with her husband Glynne and her family grew up in the village.  In 1979 she decided to take up lace making and went to classes in Ashby.

Ten years later she achieved City & Guilds qualifications in Lichfield and went on to teach the subject as well. 

Gill has won numerous awards and trophies for her work, which has been exhibited as far away as Australia. In a competition out there she reached the last 35 out of the 700 who had entered.

Above - Gill's trophy for best original design in needlework 2010 and below is the piece that won the award - The Crab

A lot of work is involved in the process of lace making and I learned a lot about the craft from Gill. She is now going to start selling some of her pieces and making more work to sell.  Her house is full of wonderful examples of lace work which she is very proud of.

Gill also led the Brownie pack in the village for thirteen years after previously helping for five.  The pack met in the Church Hall and went on pack holidays. Maybe some of you will have been involved in the pack.  She gave up when she started teaching.

Gill says that inspiration for her work is drawn from research in many areas, which can evolve using modern and recycled materials.  The pieces of work, mostly three-dimensional, incorporate textures using a variety of thread: Metamucil, wools and silks, beads, handmade paper, handmade felt and found objects are used to capture the desired effect. Gill is very enthusiastic about her work and loves coming up with new ideas for projects.

Gill with her artwork and trophy

Gill will be exhibiting next at the Living Threads Group at their 15th exhibition called Extravaganza. For those of you who would like to go along to this it is at the May Hall, Trent College, Derby Road, Long Eaton: www.thelivingthreadsgroup.com

Lace is an openwork fabric, patterned with open holes in the work which can be made by machine or hand.  Lace-making is an ancient craft and true lace was not made until the late 15th and early 16th century.  There are many types of lace which are classified by how they are made.  There are several laces that are made in the U.K, and the laces made here are named after the places they come from. Objects resembling lace bobbins have been found in Roman remains, but there are no records of Roman lace-making. It is believed that the craft may have started in Flanders. If you want to learn more about the history see www.lacemakerslace.oddquine.co.uk.

One of Gill's design boards

2010 was a good year and Gill won a silver plate for her design board. She won a trophy for her crab which is really magnificent. Gill is hoping for another successful year in 2011.

Gill and her husband also run the village B&B – useful if you have a family party and need some additional accommodation. www.fernecottage

Another of Gill's pieces, this made of recycled material

If you know someone who you think we should feature in Meet the Locals then do email Gillian Day with some details of who and why you think we should do a feature.
Bigsisterpromo @ btinternet.com

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