Renata Tesu wows ICA colleagues with her lace-making skills

Renata Tesu thinks nothing now of standing in front of 100 people and giving a lace-making presentation.

“I can do it now without emotion,” says the Romanian mum of two, who joined Tallaght ICA Guild in 2011.

She recalls feeling quite inadequate to the task when her friends first began encouraging her to teach craft.

“They said they were amazed by my talent and said I should do competitions. I didn’t start to teach lace or embroidery until they pushed me to do it. They changed my life. I was humble and thought ‘oh, I don’t have good English or the courage to do it’. They said ‘you’ll do it’.”

Renata, in her mid-40s, has been here 16 years. She had no English when she first arrived. Working in a nursing home, the matron became a friend and persuaded her to join.

“There was quite a big age gap between me and the other members, which I thought would be a bit tricky. I thought everybody would be looking at me and asking me questions at that first meeting but they treated me like I was their best friend.”

When she left, the concept of a woman’s group such as this didn’t exist, she says. “Women have started to have craft groups in the last five years – they meet in the parks.”

Renata’s grandmother started teaching her craft when she was just four years old – she began with the cross-stitch. A year after she joined, she went to An Grianán to learn Borris lace.

“It’s a bit like Romanian lace – the braids are different but the techniques are similar. Borris lace is beautiful but it’s starting to die out – we’re trying to revive it.”

Renata has just completed a certificate in technical embroidery. This autumn, she will take a stand at the Knitting & Stitching Show in the RDS. She works in a finance department but also teaches craft at An Grianán two weeks a year and four weekends.

It has been a huge force in her life, she says – whether it’s a supportive, encouraging word or a lift in someone’s car, members are always around to help.

“If I was 20 and had a chance to join, I would. It’s a very good environment to learn. A young woman has so much to learn and needs so much support.”

Renata’s daughter, Madalina, 22, accompanied her to An Grianán on one occasion and did a photography course there.

“She says as soon as she has time, she’ll go back. She loved the environment and how the other ladies treated her.”

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