The first article I shared was an excerpt from SOME/THINGS Magazine (which I need to track down, I would love to read the full interview) in conversation with Paul Harnden, and related short film "The Pattern Mill". Old Dobcross looms, verging on 100 years old, weave fabrics slowly but surely. Old technology creates cloth with unique quality and appearance that new technology cannot. Harnden speaks of the "alchemy" in the production of his cloth through changes in colour and pattern. The outcome is unpredictable. It also struck me as a magical harmonious process of production, where all parts of the process are integral and connected, like the "wool mills relying on the yarn mills [who] rely on the farmers and the sheep". The cooperation of the many pieces in each loom weaving the fabric to me seems nothing short of amazing. Much like the interaction and coordination of each cell in the human body, a problem is bound to arise at some point, however it's simply wonderous that they work together successfully so often. Thoughtfulness, alchemy and cooperation merge as one to weave old world magic into each Harnden piece.
The second insight sheds light on Sruli Recht, a creator of unique pieces from unconventional materials; from sharkskin (he's even chased down a truck with the wild beasts dead in the back to get a hold of their skin) to the infamous "Forget Me Knot" ring forged using the skin of the designer himself. You can view the short video I shared here. Not only does the video show that he is probably a really cool person if you ever had the pleasure of meeting him, but you may also enjoy a seemingly rare-in-this-niche accent from a guy who studied Fashion Design in Australia. Making use of technology to speed up the production process, Recht combines the conveniences of modern machinery with natural and unique materials. The video shows Recht draping and constructing a piece on a miniature mannequin with the help of a video camera to allow him to see the garment from all angles during construction. The mannequin also serves as an artistic constraint, discouraging over-complication. In contrast to the time consuming process of weaving cloth, Recht uses computers and laser technology to speed up the construction process. Once the initial draping process is complete, the fabric is scanned into the computer to allow the pattern to be enlarged and manipulated before being sent to a laser to cut the material.
I really enjoyed these snapshots into the world of both these designers. Both make use of unique materials for this day and age, yet do so in a polarised way. So what was the point of this post, other than to share a couple of interesting conversations? As someone who often is often confined to a specific way of thinking or thought process it's liberating to realise that it's okay to go about things differently. Whether you use old methods or take advantage of the new, in the end it only matters what works for you and what you want to achieve.
Paul Harnden images from Tumblr, "The Pattern Mill" screenshot.
Sruli Recht images from srulirecht.com, Circumsolar, Death Sequence (5 Seals, 2 Foxes, 7 Wooden Toggles)