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ContentsINDULGEtextilestobuy,collectorsimply admire 15 Good enough to eat Polly Leonard offers a selection of delicious shopping treats that won’t ruin your exercise regime 19 The Selvedge Horticultural Show Photographer Katya de Grunwald shoots prize winning fabrics in the form of flowers, cakes and vegetables in the beautiful grounds of Fenton House 76 People person Pero designer Aneeth Arora is inspired by the folk around her. Seemoreof herworkatSelvedgedrygoods,www.selvedge.org
CONCEPT textiles in fine art 62 COVER STORY Flying free Dr Sue Marks provides an overview of the work of prolific American quilter Nancy Crow. Seepg80forthechancetowinticketstoNancy’sV&AlectureinOctober
INDUSTRY from craft to commerce 32 Gold standard Where have all the high tech fabrics gone? Marie O'Mahony argues that the sporting world should embrace, not restrict, textile innovation 44 Chuck Taylor, All Star The True Story of the Man behind the Most Famous Athletic Shoe in History. AneditedextractfromthebookbyAbrahamAamidor 52 Making waves The story of Jeckells sails Clare Lewis, author of Adventure Walks for Families, findsouthowanaccidenttooksailmakinginanewdirection
GLOBAL 26 COVER STORY Suzhou silk The heart of silk production in China lies on the banks of the Jiangnan canal. Tom Bird visits the ancient city and finds a modern approach to textiles and a new respect for the old. PhotographedbyLiZhengDe 47 Perfect over The making of a cricket ball. Rahul Bhatia discovers that it takes high standards, skill and plenty of patience to create a cricket ball PhotographedbyRiteshUttamchandani
COHABIT stunning interiors beautifully photographed 56 Ebb and flow Time moves slowly on Emma Freemantle’s houseboat. Elizabeth Machin visits an unusual abode and finds a creative free spirit. PhotographedbyCraigFrodham
ANECDOTE textiles that touch our lives 30 Good sport Ian Wilson recalls the personal indignities of PE lessons and finds out he is not alone in shuddering at the sight of gym shorts 40 Enjoy the ride Athene English explains how the craft of saddle making showcases a wealth of traditional skills and modern ingenuity 50 Spheres of influence Suna Erdem looks back at the evolution of the balls used in rugby, tennis, baseball and more. Illustrated byKellyLasserre 71 COVER STORY Making a Splash Catherine Clavert traces the rise of Jantzen’s classic diving girl logo and the transformation of modern swimwear
Section C – Baking and Preserving
Class 2: A 1lb (454g) jar of jam or jelly selv edge.org
Preserves Vintage French Jam jars, from £5, T: +44 (0)1993 811 655, firstname.lastname@example.org, Hand carved wooden spoons, from £10, www.kirstenhecktermann.com, Jam lids, Les Indiennes Block printed fabrics, from £75 per mt, T: 01 518 537 3735, www.lesindiennes.com, Rosette, block printed cotton handkerchiefs, £2-£4, www.anokhi.com Courgettes left to right Ovals, Sky/Celadon, linen, £220 per mt, Galbraith and Paul at Tissus d'Helene, T: +44 (0) 20 7352 9977, www.tissusdhelene.co.uk, galbraithandpaul.com Flower Power, Celadon, linen, £220 per mt, Galbraith and Paul at Tissus d'Helene, as before Donuts, Chocolate, linen, £220 per mt, Galbraith and Paul at Tissus d'Helene, as before Candy Stripe, Saffron, linen, £220 per mt, Galbraith and Paul at Tissus d'Helene, , as before Jaisilmir, Lime, linen, £147 per mt, John Stephanidis at Tissus d'Helene www.johnstefanidis.com, as before Basket Weave, Pear, linen, £194 per mt, Galbraith and Paul at Tissus d'Helene, as before, Thomas Smith's trugs from £40, incl. p&p, T: +44 (0)1323 871640, www.sussextrugs.com
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FROM THE BANKS OF THE JIANGNAN CANALS
In the village of Luzhi, there are indications that the people of Jiangnan had dress-sense long before spiffy Shanghai was on the map. The Luzhi Cultural Park hosts a daily performance of Jiangnan folk songs. Clad in colourful embroidered shoes and cloth-buttoned floral waistcoats, these fair and fetching Suzhou maidens really say something about regional sensibilities. Round here, even the peasants have style.
Getting to Luzhi is not easy. As the canal boat has lamentably given way to the combustion engine, one has to brave a long and bumpy public bus ride from downtown Suzhou. Like so many of China’s ancient sites, the village is hidden from the roadside behind a façade of soviet-era block buildings, factory-outlet stores and grubby eateries. Disquiet is only elevated after a short rickshaw ride, as the charming old quarter comes into view.
Luzhi’s scenic canals are the principal attraction for sightseers, Marco Polo once praised Suzhou as “The Oriental Venice”. These waterways were the highways of old China, criss-crossed by prosperous Jiangnan shipping taking venerated Suzhou silk north to the celestial capital in Beijing. Flanked by i Zhengde
cobbled stone paths, visitors are able to amble along the water’s edge, past crooked stone dwellings and over ancient arch-bridges.
It costs tourists forty yuan (£4) to take a lazy river cruise. The sight of Chinese gondoliers adorned in bamboo hats goes someway to justifying the much-touted ‘Venice of the East’ moniker. Yet in the midst of this quaint slice of history, the thought that ultra-modern, ultra-chic Shanghai is just a 50-mile hop to the east is a tad difficult to digest.
“Bamboo slippers, ten yuan, ten yuan!” cries a villager in a language barely recognizable to a Mandarin-speaker. According to my guidebook, the local “mellifluous” dialect is one of the qualities that make Suzhou’s women so enchanting. But as the lady tosses her wares onto the street and begins her shrill pitch, it’s difficult to ascertain quite why this form of Chinese is a cut above the rest.
“How about eight?” I manage to enquire, despite the rumpus of curious onlookers.
“These are handmade. At the very least ten.” “How do I know they’re handmade?” She shows me her hands. They’re certainly worn. But it always pays to be wary in modernday China. Despite justifiable lapses into romantic incredulity, if you’re not careful and questioning, you could easily find yourself heading home clutching an expensive but mass-produced item.
It wasn’t always this way. The ancient Chinese were renowned for their fine produce and principled business methods. Suzhou, with its silk industry and community of literati, typified this refined civilization.
City of “six thousand bridges, clever merchants, cunning men of all crafts…” is how Marco Polo saw things. The Suzhou Museum offers a crash course in the crafts Polo refers to. Entrance is free and exhibitions are housed inside a stunning old-meets-new premises
IAN WILSON RECALLS THE PERSONAL INDIGNITIES OF PE Good sport selv edge.org
Baggy cotton shorts – in the school colours of black with a white stripe up the sides – billowed around our five year old legs, and white singlets flapped in the gusty winds of early autumn as we stood in a circle around our kindergarten teacher and embarrassedly chanted:
“Stand up straight like letter ‘I’ Hands at side and head held high – If you stand like letter ‘C’ Curly-wurly you will be.” Focusing perhaps rather more on instruction in posture and elocution (“Ian and Hugh, do speak clearly, stop gabbling.”) this was, nevertheless, my introduction to PE.
However, many of us were to remember with nostalgia piping Miss Deane’s gentle doggerel while her flailing arms conducted this awful choir. All too soon we had graduated to the untender tutelage of an ex-army PE instructor with a penchant for punishments. An excruciating example was that the last boy to get dressed after the lesson – and thus guilty of ‘being as slow as an old woman’ – had to leave ‘the gym’ wearing an enormous woman’s hat which the “Captain” had borrowed from the school’s costume wardrobe.
It was this business of getting clothes on after PE which forced me to confront the moral coward within myself. William was an unhappy, unattractive person – all too often his nose went unwiped and on two shameful occasions he had wet himself in the classroom; he endured snubbing rather than bullying, but it was tying a tie which was his undoing.
Along with slews of rules which the school implemented, was that we had to undo and retie our ties after PE, nothing as slovenly as simply stretching it into a loop which could be slipped over the head and then tightened. William could not make a tie-knot and suffered agonies and punishment. I felt sorry for him, but fear of rejection and torment from classmates held me back from doing the decent thing. One evening I asked my older sister who – quite possibly of finer moral fibre than myself, and equally possibly because she was wholly uninvolved – tolerated no timorous shillyshallying on my part: “You have to help him, there are no two ways about it.” The thought of what awaited me made the lesson into a penance and when the dreaded moment arrived, I was a martyr about to mount the scaffold. The simple humanitarian act was clumsily carried out on William, who was sitting in despairing helplessness scrunching his neck-gear in his big, boney fingers. He never thanked me, we never became friends – but two miracles did occur: I wasn’t blackballed and the next week he was able, at least on a certain level, to fasten the damn thing around his neck.
It was the clothing as much as the PE activities which surfaced when I set about ransacking people’s memories of school sports. Female friends recall the Airtex shirt and bloomers which were deemed de rigeur kit for exercising the limbs, while a colleague told of the slightly curious practice, in an Irish convent, where the students performed gymnastics in their knickers, an oddity in a context where covering up and the stressing of modesty were carried to extremes.
With a gently ironic smile, an acquaintance recollects the imitation ‘classical’ loose, pastel green tunics which she wore when ‘Greek movements’ replaced the more conventional PE class. Her succinct comment on this state of affairs was that it always seemed to be the least likeable girls who put the most ‘expression’ into their swaying, gesturing and fluttering.
Another friend recalls, with a certain fondness, the wraparound skirt worn for sport, as it was generally felt to possess more potential charm than any other garment associated with PE. This same person makes no pains about the embarrassment mixed with tentative showing-off when under the gaze of the teenaged boys
’s sportswear ildren of ch llection is co hles from ir Peeb lasda
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from the neighbouring institution who were gawking at the girls’ netball sessions through the hedge and playground railings.
A Scottish ceramicist recollects, with a shudder, that in the weeks preceding Hogmanay, PE was replaced by Scottish Country Dancing in preparation for the New Year ceilidhs. Chris hated the necessary skipping motions and remembers not only the baleful warning (“Put some heart into your skipping, laddie, or you’ll get the belt”), but also the painful enactment of the threat.
The leather-covered horse worn to a sheen by the thousands of hands propelling bodies – sometimes graceful and confident but more frequently awkward and desperate, the smell of plimsolls, the burn of the rope on the palms of one’s hands, folding your towel into a rat’s tail to flick bottoms painfully in the shower-room: these are just a few examples of the memories elicited.
Another aspect of PE was the many excuses manufactured in order to evade this part of the school syllabus: the knees and ankles which caused such sudden pain, the migraines which unfortunately manifested themselves, the vaguely described and poorly feigned ‘problems’. A safer route was persuading or browbeating parents to ‘write a note’. However, there were schools of such laxity that friends could ‘swap’ PE for Art or Maths Higher, or simply ‘disappear’ by virtue of never signing-up for sports teams. There was the excuse proffered, successfully, when a pupil in Aden, by a now renowned eye-surgeon, who with assumed shamefacedness told the principal “I’m so bad at PE that I would bring disgrace on the good name of the school.”
The two boys in my secondary school who excelled at PE were wildly different characters: one a solemn, religious proselytizer and earnest bodybuilder, the other a good-looking young Flashman – who gave off an aura of a life more dangerous and thrilling than our own. (He was also rumoured to have been the first in our class to have precociously tasted certain adult delights.) After this star duo came the great lumbering mass of us, and finally, those poor souls who were truly desolate, dreading the barked orders which required of them performances of strength and dexterity of which they knew themselves incapable.
However, there was the excitement surrounding the arrival of summer when medicine balls, vaulting bucks and pommel horses were exchanged for the bliss of swimming. That those who shone on the parallel bars, springboard and balance benches were also the ablest performers in the unnaturally blue waters of the notvery-large school pool, mattered so much less when out-of-doors, splashing in the summer sunshine.
Many of those I questioned felt little enthusiasm towards PE, but enjoyed sport. Textile artist Michael Brennand-Wood loathed organized classes, but loved “competing against myself” while running long distances through the Lancashire countryside. I spent Double Latin on Friday afternoons gazing out of the window at the tennis courts where, in my fantasies, the brilliant drives which flowed off the cat-gut strings of my wooden racquet would soon be burning up the base-lines.
My Olympic Games television-viewing, this year – as in the past – will focus not on the drama of the men’s 100m final, nor on the diving events. It is the gymnasts, especially their feats of utterly unimaginable skill involving incredible balance on slender bars, or supporting oneself, motionless, on the rings, that keep me enthralled. This absorption, however, is accompanied by slightly rueful thoughts concerning my own far distant and distinctly mediocre achievements in the PE arena, and an unexpected, albeit grudging, acceptance of the loss of youth’s agility.
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Power lines STELLA McCARTNEY’S WINNING STYLE
It’s fitting that Stella McCartney, a graduate of London’s Central St. Martin’s, was selected to be the creative designer of Great Britain’s Olympic kit, as the clean, unfussy lines of her fashion collections often recall performance-driven athletics wear.
Her Spring/Summer 2012 line contains crisp short, white dresses that conjure up tennis whites. Their undulating trim, fashioned from layers of white embroidery that Hamish Bowles for Vogue.com calls “rococo volutes,” swirls down the silhouette. With these re-embroidered curves, calling to mind the arc of a javelin’s flight, a swimmer’s reach during the butterfly stroke, the arch of a high jumper’s back, McCartney merges fitness with fashion. These dresses are for jumping into, rather than for jumping over a net.
A dominant feature of this sports-inflected collection is the athletic tank-top bodice: McCartney scoops from the outside of the tank, revealing a more muscular silhouette that is tempered by delicate fabrics and mesh inlays that evoke a fencer’s mask. McCartney plays with these cut-aways, sometimes proportioning them symmetrically, other times creating a one-shoulder silhouette with a scoop that winds its way across the body with a palpable energy. Her clothes are alive with motion.
If the garments in McCartney’s S/S 2012 integrate athletics, the women’s presentation jackets she designed for the Olympic kit are pure style. Although she adheres to the traditional zipped warm-up jacket, McCartney cinches it at the waist with a smart tie belt, giving the jacket considerable polish. Her competition wear also pays attention to this area: triple jumper Phillips Idowu wears a sprint-suit that’s anchored by the ‘power web’ X at his midriff, designed to stabilize his core muscles.
This technologically enhanced detail is meant to complement Idowu’s performance, but its elegant corset-belt features might also garner compliments from the fashion set. And here form meets function. The dialogue that McCartney initiates between the running lane and runway style ensures that Great Britain’s ing
Illustrations by Tanya L
athletes look like champions even before they mount the podium.
McCartney’s Olympic designs are not without controversy, however. A somewhat invisible concern is regarding the manufacturer of the kits. Made by the German company Adidas, for whom McCartney also designs a luxe athletics line, the range is not manufactured in the United Kingdom. Kate Battrick, London stylist who holds an MA from the London College of Fashion, expresses disappointment at this choice. “This was a clear opportunity to help an industry and inject a truly British feel into the Olympics,” she said. “McCartney has shown exceptional talent with sportswear but it would be nice to see all British designers inject some enterprise into their own country where relevant.”
A more visible matter is the representation of the Union Jack, which McCartney renders in shades of indigo, using red as accents on cuffs, collars, shoulders, socks and shoes. In an interview with the BBC, she explained her approach to integrating the flag. “For me, it’s one of the most iconic flags in the world,” she said, and spoke of how she chose to distinguish the familiar red, white, and blue of the Union Jack from similar colours in other countries’ flags. “I wanted to bring the flag into the graphic, but I wanted to dismantle it and make it slightly more delicate. I wanted to bring more texture to it and wrap the body in a 360.”
Of course, other British designers have worked with the Union Jack to great effect – Alexander McQueen has emblazoned it on accessories from shoes to clutches; Vivienne Westwood interprets the flag in watercolor on her pillows and rugs; Nadia Wilcock cuts and pieces the flag back together in her artfully seamed floor-length gown with a train. McCartney follows this tradition as she remaps the Union Jack. Her 360-perspective “wrap-around” vision simulates 3D computer-generated graphics of athletes used for training purposes: she has created a flag that travels over the body.
Like the athletes, this flag is kinetic. And because McCartney’s flag is in motion, she highlights its elements, rather than its entirety, but always makes sure that its blues and whites unfurl a compelling story, punctuated with bursts of red. She also worked with individual athletes to study their movements, to ensure that their physical expression would complement the placement of the graphic. So heptathlete Jessica Ennis’s jumps and runs are highlighted in her threequarter–length leggings with the flag at the edge; tennis player Andy Murray’s strokes call attention to the flag on his chest.
McCartney knows how to frame the body with both print and cut. In her spring/summer 2012 collection she incorporates tiny geometric prints – inspired by men’s traditional silk neckwear – into her fabric for silhouettes that showed off a woman’s toned physique. But she also uses the silk foulard print for less body-conscious, yet still sports-inflected designs that propel their energy, in part, from the lively prints.
As Battrick notes, McCartney has always delivered what she calls “clothes that play more on femininity as a class act and has not sexualized her collections.” McCartney demonstrates her restraint in loose silk paisley jumpsuits (one of which she wore to the Tower of London to present her Olympic kit) that combine the utility of the ‘gi’ worn in judo with the comfort of pajamas. She pairs over-sized, whisper-thin polo shirts with matching pants and pool sandals, sometimes shrugging a bomber jacket over top. With McCartney’s sure cuts, the floaty fabrics did not overwhelm, but rather hinted at the strength of a woman’s body beneath them.
Like a gymnast navigating the beam, McCartney designs with balance. As she told the BBC, the first question she asked the Olympic athletes was “What can I do for you?” in order to design competitive wear that would not only abide by the rules and regulations of each discipline, but would also enhance performance while looking sharp. Her spring/summer 2012 collection follows that same principle: by balancing athletics with aesthetics, McCartney makes clothes that both suggest and invite movement. And that’s a good fit. Kate Cavendish s e l v e d g e . o r g
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Enjoy the ride
SADDLES SHOWCASE A WEALTH OF TRADITIONAL SKILLS
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A traditional English saddle possesses understated beauty which belittles the complexity of its construction. At first sight it appears to be a moulded object – a carved object, a thrown object – but behind its smooth, elegant exterior lies layers of different materials, all selected for a particular use, married together by the skill of the craftsmen. But when the saddle is complete all the beholder sees is its simplicity with a function.
“Anything else is a piece of cake really,” laughs former saddler and owner of The Great English Outdoors, Athene English, when she recalls the complex set of rules she had to master to produce her first saddle. “The skills you learn are transferable so if you give me leather I can fashion a bag, belt... most things really.” It is, nevertheless, a qualified statement. “I couldn’t bind a book,” confesses Athene. “I can repair a riding boot but couldn’t create a dress shoe. Learning saddlery makes you multi-talented but not master of all trades. I’d find it more difficult to work with very fine leathers.”
Of course a number of famous companies that have their roots in this area of expertise have made the leap to fancy goods – many have diversified as the centuries have passed. Hermès may bring silk scarves to mind but their horse-drawn carriage logo – a light calèche called a duc to be precise, reveals their equestrian origins. Their flagship store at 24 rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré, Paris, may be filled with designer goods: but on the top floor is the Hermès workshop where impeccable saddles are still made by a leather craftsman with over 30 years of experience and a handful of apprentices.
In England the town of Walsall in the West Midlands, has been the centre of saddle making for centuries. Barnsby, a local company founded in 1793 hold a Royal Warrant as supplier of Saddlery & Lorinery to H M Queen ibrary
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Elizabeth II. A ‘loriner or lorimer’ (a wonderfully rare word), makes the metal parts of harness and tack. Barnsby manufactures saddles for the Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery and The Household Cavalry, the seats of which are still made on the same wooden seat forming blocks originally used in 1900. Things in this industry are made to last... Athene’s training was almost 28 years ago but she still has the first saddle she made. “They last forever,” she insists – and they should as a fine saddle is an expensive item. A handmade English saddle could cost £5,000 and up. Athene’s training was an investment really as she was trained in classical dressage and rode competitively.
The function of the saddle is to carry the rider on the back of the horse in the most comfortable way for both horse and rider, and enable the rider to deliver the aids of weight and leg pressure to the horse to control its movement and direction. For this the horse, with the help of the saddle, is able to carry the weight of the rider away from the movement of its spine for hour upon hour at any speed, slow or fast, over any terrain, smooth or rough, up or down, without the weight or height of the rider above its back causing friction on its spine.
Beyond this basic requirement it is the style of riding that influences the shape of a saddle. At a midpoint in its evolution it developed in two different directions, branching into the modern English and Western saddle. Traditional English saddles have a hand made wooden frame. This frame or ‘tree’ is shaped like an open harp with a high arc or ‘pommel’ at the front, which takes all the movement and weight of the rider away from the ‘withers’ of the horse. The withers are at the base of its neck, and must be completely free to move as the action of the front shoulders and legs of the horse come from this point. The round open seat of the saddle which cushions the rider’s seat is at the back and is called the ‘cantle’. It rises at the rear to cushion the back of the rider and prevent them slipping. The middle section of the saddle is called the ‘waist’, and is kept slim to fit snuggly on either side of the horse’s spine. Simply formed, it is a brilliant piece of design which has remained unchanged for a hundreds of years.
Saddle trees were traditionally made from laminated beech wood. It has the flexibility necessary for the job in question and laminating it allows further flexibility as well as keeping weight to the minimum. Today many other materials are used, such as fibreglass, but none have the ‘wicking’ ability of wood. Technology is making its presence felt; in 2010 Hermès launched the Talaris saddle, from the Latin ‘talaria’, meaning ‘winged sandals’. Under its made-to-measure leather exterior the Talaris’s ‘tree’ is not made of wood but of injection moulded thermoplastic. Other parts are fashioned from carbon fibre and titanium, even stitching is shunned in favour of “three screwdrivers” to bolt the saddle together. The result is one third lighter.
However, if you are sticking to tradition, the next procedure after making the tree is a piece of time consuming craftsmanship in which the saddler uses hemp ‘straining’ webbing about 2” wide, fixing it length ways down the waist of the tree from the cantle to the pommel, and then across the narrowest point of the waist of the saddle. The hemp webbing has strength as well as wicking ability and will tighten with the use of a spray of water before finally being strained over the frame with pliers and fixed with nails. The process demonstrates skilful understanding of the natural materials and how they work. Athene is proud of her knowledge of these time honoured techniques; “Modern materials do not require these skills but nor do they have the absorbency of natural materials. The complexity is necessary – webbing is the precursor to making the seat,” she explains. “Wool (saddle serge) cloth is used as it is strong, flexible and warm. The serge is stretched and nailed into place over the webbed-up tree of the saddle. Beeswax is rubbed onto the serge in the middle of the seat and an incision made. Wool ‘flocking’ or loose wool is fed into the incision and teased into the seat of the saddle until just the right amount of padding or flocking has been put into the seat of the saddle. The incision is then sewn up. Any lumps and bumps in the flocking are removed using a “smasher” or large ball headed hammer and pointed bradawl.”
Even the smallest part of the process demonstrates incredible attention to detail. “When ‘blocking the seat’ – where thin pigskin is stretched, dampened and tacked onto the seat and left to dry so it will take the shape of the seat and keep it – it must be done in a certain way or the thin pigskin will tear. A welted seam is the answer. This is a strip of fine pigskin folded between the two leathers and then sewn together. This dissipates the friction between the thin and thick leather.” Representing, as it does, a rare display of ingenuity and tradition, it saddens Athene to see examples of turn of the century saddlery on sale for a fraction of their value at auctions, “They are worth so much more. In terms of craftsmanship every one is a museum piece.” The Horse, from Arabia to Royal Ascot, 24 May– 30 September 2012, British Museum, Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG, T: +44 (0)20 7323 8299 www.britishmuseum.org s e l v e d g e . o r g 48
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Top: Wrapping the cork sheets with threads Middle: Hanging them all to dry outdoors for 3 months Bottom: Softening and then cutting the leather
Top: Tightening the threads Middle: Sorting and numbering the dried balls Bottom: Stitching two halves of the leather selv edge.org
Top: The first stitch Middle: Final polish Bottom: Final inspection by Wasiullah Khan ittamchandan
Top: Measuring the components Middle: Checking for misshapen or badly stitched balls Bottom: The rejects s e l v e d g e . o r g
in f o r mi n s pirei n s i g h t selv edge.org and carried out repairs for the hire boats. Later, they also played an active role in World War II. With their reputation as people who could sew anything Jeckells were enlisted to make camouflage netting, gun covers and latrine screens for the services. It was after the war, as with many trades, that things really moved forwards when in the 1950s sailing became more of a popular recreation as opposed to way of life.
The most noticeable change, apart from an explosion of new dinghy designs and new fabrics, was the introduction of coloured sails away from the traditional tan. Again this seems to have been a happy accident. “A boat designer Jack Holt came up with a design for a dinghy called an Enterprise and he asked me to make sails for it,” recounts Chris Jeckells. “I had some sky blue fabric left over from the war going cheap and we made him some sails out of that.” The press went wild for it. Pale blue sails become the signature of the Enterprise dinghy.
Picking up on the zeitgeist the Daily Mirror newspaper sponsored a new design of dingy eponymously named the Mirror and insisted on red sails to match their company logo. Jeckells have made over 67,000 suits of Mirror Dinghy sails since then and these have become one of the most distinctive and instantly recognisable boats on the water as a result.
As racing became popular and technology improved so sail making continued on its quest to reduce the stretch and optimise performance. “In the 1960s sails started to be made from polyester, a more closely woven fabric with less give in it so it is less stretchy and was also easier to handle,” explains Chris. In the 1980s laminates such as melinex film, similar to a Mars Bar wrapper, were glued to a base fabric making the sails almost rigid and more fin like. Although effective for the main sails this approach was not suitable for downwind (spinnakers) and light air sails because they need to be stowed in small spaces on board: for these particular sails, nylon is used.
During this time, Jeckells continued to be innovators. “My father became the first UK sail maker to successfully fit a window into a sail which was a great help as he was a keen racer and it stopped him from hitting people. He also designed the first Lazybones Crusing Chute,” says Chris with a hint of pride. “We were also one of the first sail lofts in the country to have a computer controlled laser cutter. We went to see the tests for the first laser used in manufacturing, which cut regular sized holes in the teats for baby’s bottles. Our initial thoughts were for using the laser not to just cut sails but to stitch sails instead of using thread - but the resultant molten sailcloth was too brittle. Our laser cutter was a great advance. It cut to 0.01 of a mm and heat sealed each cut to prevent fraying. It also reduced the amount of space required to make a sail.”
These days the sails are all cut out by lasers, largely sewn by machine and come in rainbow colours. Not everything has changed, though: the sail makers still work in a sail loft and still carry out techniques with arcane names like benching, which derives from the days the workers literally sat on a bench to carry out a particular task. These days, if you are not trying to win a race it has become fashionable to recreate the original tan sails and wooden fishing smacks from the early days. But whatever Jeckells is making it still endeavours to produce a perfect sail every time. Clare Lewis J Class Regatta, 18-21 July 2012, The Hundred Guinea Cup Race, 21 July 2012, Solent, T: +44 (0)1983 293 952, www.cowes.co.uk, www.jekells.com ylam a images.com
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c o h a bit selv edge.org my background.” Stylists create moods, collect inspiration from everything around them. Emma is like a conjurer mixing up textures, colours and print with her own special touch and nuance. Once freelance, she moved towards handmaking kinder keepsakes, a passion kindled again from her childhood.
And as a girl she would wear her favourite clothes again and again until the cloth would quite literally shred with age. “I have always worn something with absolute love, until it's worn out. I started to make things once I realized that these things would be wasted.” ‘Worn with Love’ Handmade Creations and Rare Finds by Emma Freemantle was a natural progression, and in an odd way this play on words has become something of her personal motto. Emma likes things in which you can see the layers of history, a hint of a narrative or the provenance of a piece. “I love the idea of a story told through the thread, the fabrics interwoven,
the imperfections that make something even better than perfection because it is individual.”
Her creations are usually made from recycled and vintage fabrics, and curios from the past found while hunting in car boot sales in England, on her travels in South America or simply on a dusty London street. She has a knack for finding beauty in the most unlikely objects. “The exciting thing is you never know what you will find. It becomes chance and in a way destiny. The path, the journey of that piece, knowing that nothing lasts forever and it's just a moment in time.”
For Emma life is never at a standstill, neither is her home that lies on a thoroughfare made of water. Her house is a 1967 Springer narrow boat on Regents canal. She has lived her buoyant life for five years and can’t imagine living anywhere else. Her barge, which is just 11 metres from stern to bow, is an artistic 4
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Out of the revival of quiltmaking that took place in the 1970s on both sides of the Atlantic, emerged a group of makers who, from the outset, used the quilt as a means of artistic expression,. American Nancy Crow has been at the pinnacle of this Art Quilt movement for more than thirty years.
Nancy was art school trained like many of this group and has a MFA in ceramics and weaving. She made her first quilt whilst waiting for the birth of her first son in 1970, in South America; and although her mother assisted, Crow was not following a family tradition of quiltmaking. Subsequently she learnt her craft working with traditional methods, and joined a textile guild after moving back to Ohio in 1974. With a few of the group, all weavers, she embarked on making quilts and within two years knew she loved quiltmaking, being able to lay down blocks of colour in a more direct way than weaving allowed.
From the outset, her vision was distinctive. Crow’s work has had two main phases. Initially she used templates and challenged herself to work with bold, geometric patterned and commercially dyed fabrics, producing increasingly complex, symmetrical designs that were both striking and innovative. By 1990, she had tired of this timeconsuming method of construction and was ready to quit quiltmaking, unable to find a way forward where she could work more asymmetrically. Her ‘Eureka’ moment came after watching African American quiltmaker, Anna Williams, at work cutting her pieces freehand with scissors.
Over the next few years Crow taught herself to use her rotary cutter without a ruler, with a skill akin to drawing with a pencil, fluidly cutting her fabric. This second phase of improvisational work allowed Crow to work more expressively, machine piecing solid hand-dyed fabrics. Using the simplest means, she focuses on the beauty of relationships when sinuous line and shape come together and has produced a seemingly never-ending variety of lyrical, abstract compositions.
There is no preplanning; she works intuitively, co-ordinating hand, heart and eye. She pins up her compositions on her studio walls, cutting, moving and re-cutting the fabric shapes until she is totally satisfied, before she begins to sew. She works rhythmically, becoming totally integrated with her processes, arranging colour values, and stitching the pieces together. Instinct and experience help her determine the right proportions for each work. The essence of her work is absorbed from her environment, and narrative lies in the structure of the compositions. They need no wordy intellectual statements, so prevalent in the art world today; the emotion is there in the execution.
Combined with her intuitive feel for composition, Crow is also a colourist of the first order. Her weaving background has informed her knowledge of dyeing, and she dyes vast quantities of fabric in a wide range of colours and values giving her the extensive palette she needs. To get the saturation and depth of colour that is so much her trademark, the fabric is dyed and processed three times. Scale is another important aspect of Crow’s work and she has exploited the opportunities quiltmaking allows for working on a large scale, recognising the impact that colour and shape can have when viewed from a distance.
Complete mistress of her technique, Crow remains passionate about piecing. She fears machine piecing will become a dying art, as contemporary quiltmakers try quicker methods to achieve their goals. Whilst she enjoys hand piecing, using the sewing machine enables Crow to work at the speed she demands of herself. Quilting gives body to the finished work, and Crow, preferring the softer aesthetic of the hand quilted stitch, employs the services of Marla Hattabaugh, who has worked for her for twenty-five years. Crow designs the quilting patterns, sending them with the pieced top, thread and backing cloth to Hattabaugh.
Crow will cut away fabric until she is happy with the composition and it is typical of her work ethos that she is ruthless in dismissing work with which she is not totally satisfied. An extra consideration is the time and cost of her quilter. Neither will she compromise her principles and make work specifically to sell. She digs deep to produce her work and does not care if the work is not acceptable to others, or commercial. Working on several pieces at one time, she continues to work in series. Each successive piece builds on the last, working through ideas or resolving issues that have arisen. Whilst content is a subtle force in her work it is there. A traumatic sight viewed whilst visiting China inspired the Chinese Souls series. Nancy explains; “All of my work produced in the past 25 years plus has content. However I choose not to write about it nor elucidate to it in statements. My quilts have strong emotional currents apart from their composition and construction that underlie how they appear to the viewer. It has always been my hope that emotions will come out and be felt when the work is experienced. In fact the quilt, Constructions #78, which has never been exhibited, was made while I was going through a really tough time, a time in which I felt a huge need to control what was falling apart around me – as a result this quilt is tightly controlled. It was personal for me at the time.”
Crow’s drive for work shows no sign of abating, despite being seventy next year. Her output is phenomenal and she continues to push herself in new directions. She is currently entering a third phase of work, using fabrics she has mono-printed. Secluding herself in her vast studio on the family farm last summer, she focused on mastering the technique. It is no surprise that of all printing methods, this is the one that Crow has chosen to explore, given its expressive nature and direct application. She is enjoying the challenge of drawing on a large scale and transferring the work directly onto the fabric. If this newer work appears to be in a more restrained colour palette, this is because Crow has only just begun her explorations. There is little doubt that her palette will become more varied and move towards increasing complexity as she progresses.
Aside from her vast body of work, Crow’s influence on the contemporary quilt world has been, and remains, extensive. In 1979, she was co-founder of the prestigious juried, biannual Quilt National, established the Art Quilt Network in 1986, and the Quilt Design Symposium, a two week art quilt conference, in 1990. Through her teaching, now mostly at her studio barns on the farm, she has been at the forefront of moving contemporary quiltmaking practice forward, truly believing quiltmaking is an art form and should be taught that way. Never happier, she works tirelessly in her studio, continuing to develop her work with new ideas and techniques. Passion, hard work and determination underpins her work and set her apart, making her the great artist she is. Dr Sue Marks Color Improvisations Nancy Crow, The Knitting and Stitching Show, Alexandra Palace, 11-14 October 2012, RDS Dublin, 1-4 November 2012, To book tickets T: 01394 288521 or visit www.twistedthread.com
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PERO DESIGNER ANEETH ARORA IS INSPIRED BY THE FOLK AROUND HER People person selv edge.org
Have you studied textiles? Yes, after graduating in fashion design, I felt the need to understand the medium better. I decided to study textiles at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Having studied textiles, I had a clear idea how I would like to use traditional textiles to create clothing. I felt complete, like an artist who could weave his own canvas before painting on it. Could you describe your studio? My studio is minimalistic, with pieces of antique wooden furniture and lots of books and textiles. There is a lot of activity all the time, with music playing in the background and lots of smiling faces around. Since my work is hands on, there are always things lying around. It’s tidy in the morning but gets messier as the day goes by. What I love the most is the part where all the women sit and do handwork, they make the whole atmosphere cheerful. I like spending time with them and working with them to create new samples. Did you explore any other materials before settling on textiles? After studying textiles, I worked with paper. I explored the possibilities of making textiles and trims using waste paper, and worked with a paper company for almost two years. While working with paper I realised that paper has a lot in common with textiles. I explored weaving with paper strips and paper yarn, I tried printing and dying on paper, I even stitched on it. But eventually I started my own label and began working with Indian textiles to create clothing for men, women and children. Can you tell us about the dyes and process you use? I use numerous textile techniques, which include dyeing, printing and weaving. I work with traditional crafts in India which are region specific. If I am working on block prints and tie-dye from Gujarat, we work with natural dyes like indigo and madder. In some cases, when I am dyeing my yarns for weaving in West Bengal, we use azo free dyes. The dyes and the processes that we use depend on the region’ as well as the technique that I am working with. What do you think makes a handcrafted object special? I think it’s the irregularities in a handcrafted material that makes it so special. With block printing one can see that each repeat has been painstakingly placed by hand. In weaving when there is a slub in the yarn that adds an interesting texture to the fabric. While stitching if the needle misses a stitch it adds more character to the garment. The fact that every piece is different makes the object special. India has a wonderful tradition of the handmade. Every piece passes from the hand of one craftsperson to another and the fact that so many hands have touched a piece of clothing makes it special.
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73 Fisherman’s Friend Form and function meet in finely woven fishing creels. Athene English, owner of The Great English Outdoors, Hay on Wye reveals the history of these useful baskets 75 Fabric swatch Sarah Jane Downing reveals there is more to aertex than school shirts – this hi-tech fabric was designed to be cool. Illustrated byMacrinaBusato 96 In a spin Just a length of fabric keeps Aerial gymnasts from falling. Kate West finds out that they take their life in their hands to create beautiful displays of agility and strength
ATTIRE critical reporting of fashion trends 38 COVER STORY Power lines Kate Cavendish explores Stella McCartney’s winning style and her recent Olympic commission. Illustrated byTanyaLing 42 COVER STORY Riding high Our regular contributor Sarah Jane Downing demonstrates how stylish equestrian wear became a habit 67 COVER STORY Grasping at straws Collector Alasdair Peeble finds his collection of straw hats for children have the power to evoke a fleeting period at the turn of the century
WIN 80 Prizes this month... Internationally renowned quilter, Nancy Crow is making a rare appearance in London and Selvedge readers have the chance to win sought after tickets to her lecture at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Due to high demand tickets are only available to those booking tickets to The Knitting and Stitching Show in 2012 but 25 Selvedge readers will win free entry to both events. Good luck!
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03 bias /contributors A letter from Selvedge founder and words of wisdom from our contributors 07 news Shauna Richardson, Zoe Murphy, Brighton Pod, Life’s a picnic, Mark Hearld, Daniela Gregis, Woven Oak, The Textile Manufactures of India 09 need to know Picasso’s designs for White Stag 11 how to Amy Butler teaches us how to make a colourful cloth bead necklace 80 subscription offers A Les Indiennes block printed beach bag for every new subscriber and renewal 83 readers’ survey Your annual opportunity to share your views and win a holiday 84 listings Exhibitions, fairs and events around the world in August and September 86 Books: Geoffry Rayner Artists’ Textiles 1940-1976 reviewed by Mary Schoeser, Alistair Morton and Edinburgh Weavers: Visionary Textiles and Modern Art reviewed by Fiona Rutherford 88 view: Bauhaus: Art is life by
Ptolemy Mann, Jean Paul Gaultier: Sidewalk to the Catwalk by Annie Wilson, Japanese Style Sustaining Design: Reiko Sudo by Tim Parry Williams, Unravelling Nymans by Amanda Bright 93 resources Websites, reading lists and sources for those who want to find out more about the Sporting Issue 95 coming next The Etiquette Issue: Fine and formal textiles. gloves, monograms, Korean dress, Grayson Perry, Tapestry weaving, Kaffe Fassett.
SELVEDGE ('selnid3 ) n. 1. finished di fferently 2. the non-fraying edge of a length of woven fabric. [: from SELF + EDGE]
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