Many people, when you talk to them about tatting, see it as a frivolous activity. Hand knitting, while time consuming, does produce useful articles such as sweaters, socks and mittens. Quilting can make beautiful and practical bed covers, pillows and bags. Embroidery, including cross stitch can make beautiful wall hangings and embellishments to almost anything. Tatting on the other hand is woefully misunderstood. Mention tatting and the uninitiated will think only of doilies. Talk to tatters and you get a whole different perspective.
There are a lot of things that tatters make that aren't doilies. At this time of year there are a lot of snowflakes. Granted a snowflake could be considered a small doily, but as no two snowflakes are alike, neither are any 2 tatted snowflakes so there's a lot of room for variety. Then there are the things that make nice little gifts like bookmarks, hearts and butterflies. A whole lot of newer designs have shown up in the past few years for critters, "lions tigers and bears, oh my" to quote Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Just this past year we have seen a lot of Jane's hippos and Anne's dragons (pdf). Then there's the jewelery, from quick little earrings to the spectacular pieces created by Marilee aka Yarnplayer.
Beyond all of that, which the uninitiated might consider typical for tatting there is a whole range of three dimensional tatting like the flowers done by Linda or the gingerbread house and pirate done by Carol which tatters and non tatters alike find utterly awesome.
Isn't it interesting that if someone takes up painting, no one questions the validity of it, even if they consider the product 'bad' painting. No one asks, why do you bother doing it when you could buy a print of the same thing to hang on your wall. No one thinks that the time spent painting is a waste of time. No one would call a painting, even an inferior one, worthless. What is it about textiles that seems to give people the right to judge it as worth less value and less appreciation.
Is it because it involves thread or yarn? Is it possibly because it is seen as "women's work" and therefore people feel free to be critical of it? Is it because of familiarity since it is something that was done by almost everyone's ancestors so that there is no feeling of "uniqueness" to it? Is it because it is seen as something "easy" to do? Is it because of a lack of understanding in the skill required?
I could slap paint on a canvas and call it art. (I'm not saying that it would be ART, just that I could do it.) So if, without training or skill of any kind I could throw paint at a canvas and not be criticized for calling it art, why is it that people can freely criticize fibreart as if it is some lesser form of art. Fibre is a more difficult medium than paint. Colour, shape and texture and more challenging to produce in fibre than with a paintbrush. So why is it that fibreart doesn't get the recognition it deserves?