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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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INFORM the latest news, reviews and exhibition listings
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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