Tatting is a form of lacemaking that dates back to the early 19th century, and, according to Wikipedia, is inexplicably thought to be derived from the French word frivolité, reflecting its complete lack of usefulness. The only other remotely interesting thing Wikipedia had to say about it was that it has been used for occupational therapy, to give recovering patients something to do with their hands. I totally get that.
I learned shuttle tatting as a bored kid from some old craft instruction booklet my Mom had, and that method of lacemaking is a fairly annoying tangle of Cat's Cradle-like knots and holding your hands and fingers just so and getting lots of knots that were not part of the instructions that
require a magnifying glass and a needle to undo (if you aren't willing to simply throw the piece away and start over). This pastime was quickly and wisely set aside for crochet and knitting and, well, art.
When I started selling my fine art on Etsy, I wandered randomly through all the categories of
handmade stuff to see what was there, and amongst all that stuff, I found
people who did tatting.
They made the usual useless doilies and lace collars, but then some of them made jewelry--really hot, Goth, steampunk, kick-ass jewelry. So I looked up some of these artists to see how they did it, and they mentioned this term called "needle tatting". I bought some tatting needles (long, straight needles with no points on the ends), procrastinated a while longer, then finally hunkered down, read the instructions, and figured it out. I had had this idea rattling around in my head that this type of lace might look really cool hand-dyed with permanent inks, so, after finding some patterns I liked, I tried my idea. Apparently, it was a fairly good one, or at least I think so. I'm not sure if I am going to sell these items in my same store or if I'm going to take them over to The Wooden Cow here in Albuquerque to see if they sell, but I'm building up quite a collection, so I guess I'd better share it. With that thought in mind, I'm sharing it here to see how it does. This last photo is the first set I made, a choker and earring set, hand dyed with turquoise ink to make a gradient going across each piece. My husband also thought it was a really nice picture, despite Mimi having her tongue stuck out.