Lace decorations like this can take hours to make.
photo: Zuzana Habšudová
"It's like ant work, requiring lots of patience," said Kováčová. "But any handy person can learn."
Kováčová, 45, is manager of the Bratislava culture centre Klub 22, which teaches the century-old Slovak tradition of lace making. At Klub 22, Students learn to make lace Christmas ornaments, lace portraits and lace clothing designs. The club's students opened an exhibition of their work November 22.
The exhibition includes table clothes, framed pictures and candle holders, some with flower motifs, others with portraits of women. Christmas tree decorations range from lace angels bordered by straw to simple stars. The items are made mostly of white thread, combined with gold and silver lines. They are on sale for between Sk60 and Sk500.
Smaller items, such as the Christmas ornaments, require only a couple of hours of work. But table cloths and framed designs can take days to finish, depending on the degree of difficulty of the pattern and skill of the worker. Although the tradition of lace making goes back hundreds of years in Slovakia, only a handful of Slovaks still practice the craft.
"I always admired it but was scared of learning it by its apparent difficulty," said Kováčová, who joined the class at Klub 22 three years ago. Today the class has eight regular students of varying skill. Beginners are welcome to join.
After her friends and colleagues convinced her to join the group, Kováčová was soon hooked. Today she works with lace almost every night.
"It's like knitting. Once you sit down with it, you end up working on it all day," she said. "You are drawn forward by wanting to see the end result."
Exhibition runs at Klub 22, Vavilovova 22 (cross the Old Bridge to Petržalka; club is behind Billa shopping centre) until December 12. Open daily 9:00 to 19:00, Sunday 15:00 to 17:00. Tel: 02/6224-4789.
By Zuzana Habšudová