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
About my work I
design and make wearable and sculptural pieces, mainly using the
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
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.