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Tina Koder Grajzar – the original Idrija lace maker

Tina Koder Grajzar – the original Idrija lace maker

Whoever visited Idrija knows, that this town in the western Slovenia is best known for two things: its mercury mine and the world-famous Idrija lace. If we read a bit of the town’s history, it becomes somehow apparent that these two are connected and were walking hand in hand through the centuries. Lace making craft is thought to be brought to this parts by the wives of miners and mining experts from German and Czech lands who came to work in the Idrija mine.

While the Idrija mine, which in its prime time used to be the second largest producer of quicksilver in the world (after the Spanish Almadén mine) has been closed for almost two decades and it is now partly arranged in the museum, Idrija bobbin lace (“idrijska čipka“) ranks Idrija among the most eminent European centers of this valuable folk art. Every June the annual Idrija Lace Festival takes place, and lace makers show their creations in the streets of Idrija. This vivid festival is accompanied by the international lace makers’ gathering, workshops, demonstrations, competitions, concerts, and outdoor parties.

Tina Koder Grajzar – modern meets traditional

Growing up in Idrija in a family of designers, there was a little chance for Tina Koder Grajzar not to fall in love with the lace making. Already at the age of six, she started attending Idrija’s acclaimed Lace Making School, where she gained knowledge of all of Idrija lacing techniques. After grammar school she moved to the Slovenian capital Ljubljana to study Fashion and Textile Design at the University of Ljubljana.

Enchanted with lace and with the desire to express herself through the lace even more artistically. She started creating modern, original lace creations, that have become the focus of her attention in the past few years. Today, she frequently showcases her designs at independent and group showcases and fashion shows in Slovenia and abroad; her designs are also a part of regular lace collection of the City Museum of Idrija.

In the world of lace makingand the art of lace patterns, what makes Idrija lace different from the other?

Idrija bobbin lace is one of the so-called tape laces. The tape (“ris”) bends in different forms, creating the pattern. In Idrija we know two basic styles: broad-tape lace (most popular in 2nd half of 19th Century) and narrow-tape lace (from 1920 on). Through the decades, some typical motives and patterns were developed, called by popular names: hearts, peonies, mushrooms, spiders, tulips,…

Your affection with lace started from a very early age. Do you still remember your first lace creation?

Like almost all children, I too started with a simple four-bobbin pleat. But my first real lace creation was a heart. I drew my own pattern and then made the lace. This was when I was seven years old then. I still keep it.

Where do you get the inspiration for your designs?

Mostly from nature, it is an infinite source of inspiration for me. Sometimes I also get inspiration from art and lace history. And everyday life, the way we live and dress today – that’s very important to me because I want my lace to be contemporary.

The Art Of Idrija Lace Making

Idrija lace is one of the Slovenian biggest heritage and trademarks. How do you promote your designs?

I promote my designs through my webpage, different kinds of social media, exhibitions, publications,… My lace is among the Slovene State Protocol gifts which is also a good way to promote Idrija lace worldwide.

How do people react to you when you tell them you are a lace maker?

I prefer to call myself a lace designer, but I’m a lace maker as well, of course. I notice people generally see lace-making as a very demanding and complex craft. Sometimes, they are surprised by the fact that I am relatively young, since -stereotypically- lace-makers are all old(er) ladies. And one of the most frequent questions that I get is: “So … can you actually live on lace-making?!”

Where do you see this craft tradition going in the future?

At the moment, lace-making is the most widespread craft in Slovenia, it is very popular even among younger women and children and that’s very promising. But of course, it can only remain so if the lace continues to develop, to keep up with the contemporary way of life and design plays an important role in this.

At the moment, lace-making is the most widespread craft in Slovenia.


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