A few months ago I received a message from a student studying fashion at Central St Martins. His name was Oliver Sharpe, he was in his final year, and as part of his show he wanted to include a garment that featured some elements of basketry.
Well, of course, I was intrigued, so we had a chat and he sent over some initial sketches. His idea was to have two woven pieces, one on a shoulder and one on the opposite hip, that were also connected in some way.
He came over to discuss how this might work and to look at materials. We decided that rush would work best, as it was more flexible than cane and he liked the variation in colour and widths.
His sketches suggested some kind of plaiting or checkweave, which could have been challenging given the undulating surface and irregular shapes. I thought that twill plaiting might be better, as it can be shaped more easily. But then I showed him some images of some irregular or freestyle plaiting, and he decided to go for that.
I made a small sample in rush so that he could get a feel for the thickness and texture.
Then Oliver had to work out the exact shape of the pieces, using cardboard, and make moulds for me to work on.
I thought that it might be challenging to maintain the shape as I wove, especially with negative curvature, but with lots of pegs it wasn’t too bad.
I left them on the moulds to dry, secured with inner tube, before removing them.
Then I had to join them together with a five-element plait. I also wove five-element plaits to hang down at the front and over the shoulder.
Oliver invited me to his final show, where it was great to see the finished garment in action.