Since well before the 3rd millennium BC, we've been busy weaving, sewing, twilling, braiding (or as our UK friends say, plaiting), spiraling and coiling all manner of ropes into cool-looking creations, most notably baskets.
Coiled couture has been making interesting inroads into fashion of late. Take this unusual 2-Hump Tote by Brooklyn-based designer Doug Johnston, whose work has been featured in high-profile glossies, chic boutiques and snooty galleries. "I started making coiled rope baskets that exposed the natural cotton rope and used colored thread as both structure and decoration," he explains about his handmade items which are intended to transform the linear into the three-dimensional. "The technique is itself based on the ancient method of making ceramic coiled pots as well as coiled basketry."
Instead of employing formal patterns or molds, he lets his trusty vintage industrial-zig-zag machine determine the artistic direction of each piece, thus allowing it to "take on deformations and glitches that give it unique personality," he continues. "I also see the process as a form of analog 3D printing/prototyping performed by a sewing machine and with much less precision."
And its exactly that - imprecision - that make his work feel alive in a way that homogenous, mass-produced work never can. "My interest lies in the relationships between form/space, material, process, surface and structure, as well as the unique events and characteristics that arise from the contrasts of hand work vs machine work, planning vs improvisation, familiarity vs strangeness, utility vs. uselesness, etc."
The striking visual appeal of coiled baskets similarly called to Australian knitwear designer Katherine Mavridis, who began reading up on the topic. "My research led me to explore more modern examples of basket making as I looked to other inspiration sources such as Doug Johnston who constructs such amazing coiled bags, purses and baskets out of rope," she says. The textural qualities help "transform within her knits from a rhythmic perspective, creating dynamic textural and sculptural structures which pulsate around the body."
- Lesley Scott
photos by Banjo McLachlan (via)