New England Lace Group

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The New England lace makers as a group of like-minded people began meeting in 1983. Many of these had begun learning lace making from Alma Pearson in Armidale, or from visiting tutors.

Norma O’Keefe, Judith Falle and Jessie Russell taught classes at TAFE and elsewhere for the next 10 years. The New England Lace Group was formed in 1985, to prepare for a highly successful Country Lace Weekend held in April 1986 at UNE. From then on, many other activities and workshops were organised, with Bobbin and Needle Lace being included.

Grants were secured from the Craft Council to subsidise workshops and to help promote the activities of the group. Over the years the group has waxed and waned, but has always provided tutors for beginners and the old hands, with the NELG becoming a vibrant, enthusiastic body.

Since early in 2003, many overseas tutors have visited and conducted workshops in Uralla, and more recently at the newly named Lace Resource Centre at the Go Create studio at Kentucky. Membership includes interstate lacemakers. Some are new to bobbin lace making, or have returned to the art after a break of some years. NELG is always looking for new, younger members who would like to learn this precious and ancient art. With this in mind, members of NEL have taught lacemaking to Year 12 Textile and Design students, demonstrated at events and held exhibitions locally and overseas.

Our aims are:

  • To promote lace making as an art and a leisure activity throughout the New England region;
  • To bring together people interested in all forms of lace and lace making;
  • To provide a forum for the exchange of information on lace and lace making;
  • To provide opportunities for personal and public education in lace and lace making;
  • To maintain a library of books, magazines and resource materials.

Our latest project has hit the streets of Uralla with a Lace Chase. The goal is to promote the great variety of lace styles and to educate people in the fascinating history of lace making over 700 years. Visitors to the town and locals will be issued a challenge to find framed handmade lace worked by NELG members that have been placed discreetly in shops and businesses. The lace history includes information regarding Uralla’s long association with its Brass and Iron Lace Foundry and the iron lace seen on buildings in Uralla and Armidale.

This is an ongoing project, with many more laces to be included and more history and information to be accessed on a website through a barcode.

We plan on the Lace Resource Centre becoming a focus for lace makers far and wide. A National Lace Register is being considered, with assistance from Rosemary Shepherd, tutor and lace historian and one of our latest members. She was former Curator of the Lace Centre at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.

For further information, please contact NELG at or Phone: (02) 6778 7231.

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