Saturday, April 2, 2011

From Camels to Contemporary Creations



Weavers have always been excited by new techniques, textures, shapes, and/or fibers. At the March Weavers meeting, Julie Hedges provided the weavers with an incredible journey about the origins of ply split braiding (PSB) from necessity in India for the girths of camels to today's more contemporary creations, whether fashion, form or function. Simply put, PSB is 4-ply cording (made of thread/yarn/fiber split by a awl-like device and another cord angled into place.

Julie, a ply-split braiding expert, guru is probably more precise, has worked with the elder statesmen of the art worldwide, people we all know like Peter Collingswood, to native elders, whose names I cannot pronounce, much less spell. She has traveled throughout India and seen the humble tools of the trade,i.e., using a stick instead of carders, spit instead of spritzing bottles, and fingers spinning instead of power drills. She experienced the Pushtar Camel Fair which brings people from all over the country to show/sell their wares, whether fleece or animal, tool or product, all part and parcel for PSB.

The camel is a mode of transportation, a form of machinery, a sign of wealth and prosperity. PSB began as a way of making a girth for camels to hold saddles, tools, people, whatever was necessary. The girths could be modest and plain, or ornate and bejeweled. This camel is clearly aware of his worth and takes great pleasure in his appearance. Note his regal pose in the photo.





It's very hard to summarize Julie's incredible talent in a few words, so I'll show you. Her work runs the gamut from miniatures to clothing, decor to function, all exhibiting the extrapolation of a simple twisting of thread/cord.



Note the size of this item...those are fingers holding it.






Julie graciously agreed to model a cap she produced using PSB. Obviously, we all had a fun evening.



This weekend, Julie is providing a workshop for the PSB group, more than a workshop, an exploration into the real challenges and dynamics of this art with lots of little tricks of the trade. For example, note in the picture, large knitting needles are being used to keep the cords from jumping while twisting cords.





If you're interested in learning more about PSB, contact the Vicki, the Guild or check out Julie's new book.


Happy Braiding.

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