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J u l i e  H e d g e s  
p l y - s p l i t   b r a i d s


About me

I am a graduate of Liverpool Art School, now John Moores University, where I specialised in woven textile design. I then worked in the Textiles Department at the Surrey Institute of Art & Design, Farnham, until 2000, when I left to set up my studio in Worcestershire.

In 1989 I attended a workshop on Ply-Split Braiding taught by Peter Collingwood in conjunction with the Animal Regalia exhibition held at Farnham. I became fascinated by ply-splitting and have been researching and developing the technique to make wearable and sculptural pieces in a variety of yarns.

Julie with Ishwar Singh,
camel girth maker, and son
.

I was awarded a Theo Moorman bursary in 1992 to develop my work.

In 2004 I furthered my researches by travelling to India and found interesting textiles and images which have influenced my work. While there, I had the opportunity to reintroduce an old craft in a new way to students at the National Institute of Art and Design in Ahmedabad.

I regularly show my work with the Worcestershire Guild of Craftsmen and the Braid Society; I have exhibited and sold my work in the UK, Europe and USA.

I teach workshops in ply-splitting to groups throughout the UK.

 

About my work I design and make wearable and sculptural pieces, mainly using the ply-splitting technique.

The importance of yarn selection, cord making and use of colour in relation to structure is vital to my textiles, and I particularly enjoy working in linen, hemp and cotton.

The growth, structure, patterns and colours found in plants and natural forms all influence my work.

My recent visits to India have had a significant impression on me and my interest in photography has helped me to bring back some of the colour and atmosphere I encountered there.

The neckpieces, belts and bracelets range from £40 upwards and I am happy to make pieces to commission.

The sculptural pieces are all individually designed and similar pieces may be commissioned. They are priced from £150.

I also make decorative twisted cords for use in furnishing projects.

 

About ply-split braiding Ply-split braiding has been found extensively in Rajasthan and Gujarat, North West India, where it has been used to make camel girths and animal regalia.

The essential materials needed for ply-split braiding are highly twisted, plied cords. These are commonly 4-ply cords, but 2- or 3-ply cords are occasionally used.

The traditional girths are made from goat hair yarn or sometimes cotton. Contemporary braid makers use a variety of yarns including, linen, hemp, silk, paper, or rayon, often using a four-hook cordwinder (click here for a supplier) to make the cords. Having made the cords, the ply-splitting process is very portable. A gripfid (click here for a supplier) is frequently used for splitting the cords and drawing a cord through the plies of one or more cords.

Being an ‘off loom’ technique, shapes may be made and combined to make more complex designs with the potential for making pieces from fine neckpieces, bracelets etc, through to larger vessels and sculptural works.

 


An ‘overdressed’ camel at
tThe Pushkar Camel Fair, 2004

Girths on sale at the
Pushkar Camel Fair, 2004

 

During the 1980s, Peter Collingwood travelled to India and collected and analysed braided artefacts, the techniques of which had never been documented before. His researches culminated in a book ‘The Techniques of Ply-Split Braiding’ published in 1998. His lectures, workshops and demonstrations in the UK, Europe and USA brought ply-splitting to a wider audience.

The technique has since been explored and developed in a number of directions. In 2001 the first Ply-Split Braiding Convention took place in Bampton, Oxfordshire; it was an international gathering of those interested in the technique and included an exhibition ‘Expanding the Girths’, which I helped to organize. Both traditional and contemporary work was on show and lectures, demonstrations and workshops were held.

Participants included Peter Collingwood, Ann Norman, Jennie Parry and me from UK, Errol Pires from India, Noemi Speiser from Switzerland, Linda Hendrickson, Kay Seimachi and James Pochert from USA, and Akiko Shimanuki and her students from Japan.