Date of this Version
Men of the Thar Desert in the Indian states of Rajasthan and Gujarat and the Pakistan state of Sindh have been the traditional masters of ply-split braiding. They have focused on trappings for camels, including elaborately decorated girths, bridles and other accoutrement, made of goat hair or cotton. Particularly since the 1998 publication of Collingwood’s The Techniques of Ply-split Braiding, fiber artists have explored other possibilities for using ply-split braiding to create vessels and other three-dimensional structures. Most of those innovations have been done in what Collingwood calls single-course oblique twining (SCOT), which allows great freedom in color patterning because where cords of contrasting color meet, either can be chosen as the surface color. Plain oblique twining (POT) is more constraining, as a given cord alternately splits and is split by the cords it meets along its path. A recent
paper in Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot documented novel cord sequences that allow a variety of POT vessels to be made with orthogonally oriented cords (which Speiser calls course parallel). The current report describes a very different set of possibilities when POT vessels are made with diagonally oriented cords (course oblique). Particularly notable in these course-oblique POT vessels are opportunities for combining solid and fenestrated surfaces, varying sizes and relations of fenestrations to shape vessels, creating
footings or handles that are integral to the vessel, and using cord substitution to create blocks of color with complex junctures.
David W. Fraser’s textile interests center on structures that are not readily mechanized and the cultures in which they have importance. He has pursued these interests as both scholar and practitioner. His scholarship has included the study of weft twining across cultures and time and (with Barbara Fraser) an acclaimed exploration of the backstrap loom-woven textiles of the Chin peoples of South and Southeast Asia. His artistic work in recent years has focused on ply-split braiding. Building on the work of the late Peter Collingwood, he has designed new cord sequences to permit construction of a variety of novel vessels with radial symmetry. He is a Research Associate at The Textile Museum and a Juried Member of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen.