Gallery 7b - Erroll Pires
As I have been concentrating a lot with ply-split braiding in the last few years, my weaving has taken a back seat. In the past I have woven rugs in the inlay technique.(dovetailing).
In India we have a tradition of shawl weaving. I have been weaving shawls, usually woollen. I managed to get some soft baby camel wool and have ended up weaving a large shawl for myself. After meeting the great master Peter Collingwood, I have experimented a bit with tablet weaving too.
The cords that I use are available in the local market and have uneven/varying twists per inch/cm. So each time I start using a new lot for a new garment, I have to figure out how the cords will behave when worked upon...which in turn means that all my previous experience comes in handy.
I am planning a silk garment and as I have this beautiful/handy cord maker (thank you, Peter!), I have planned to make all the cords for it. That way I can control the twists per inch and the cords will be suitable for this dress. Each length of cord would be made separately. I will use about 90/100 cords, doubled up, for a garment, so it works out to about 200 working ends.
After a recent trip to Orissa in eastern India, I have been fascinated by tie-dye and so my recent ply-split work has a lot of tie dyeing of cords. I have figured a quick way to do this which is quite simple. The cotton cords come in the form of a round bundle - I just immerse the bundle half way on its side into the dye bath - so the result is that when the bundle of cords is opened up for use, only parts of the total length are dyed and its quite interesting to work with. There is also no sharp demarking of the resisted areas and the gradual bleeding of colours is something that I find interesting.
In 1997 I met Junichi Arai, the Japanese weaver, and it was fascinating to hear him constantly repeat, "We have to find and innovate new ways of doing the same old techniques that have been developed by mankind." Reflecting on his words has made great sense and I am constantly trying innovative ways of doing the traditional techniques.
I have been lucky to have met great masters from the Western parts of the world and I have a set of Eastern Gurus in the desert region of Rajasthan. About my Gurus...In the West...I was fortunate to be Peter Collingwood's guest for a week and to see him at work. It simply inspired me…that to achieve something in life, hard work and constantly experimenting with it is the only way to achieve good results. With Junichi Arai...his innovation of using simple traditional techniques and giving them a contemporary application, using all new technologically developed yarns, has inspired me to look at my own country's heritage more closely.
With my Eastern gurus in the desert…their simplicity of doing things, with the most basic of tools and their dedication, in spite of all their hardships for survival has touched a cord in my heart. Their willingness to share all that they know and accepting me as a novice many years ago…making me feel like a member of their own family.(After mastering the technique, it has given me strength to withstand some tragic experiences in my life). Ply- split braiding is my form of Prayer. Between them its been fun with my work.

Ply-split trees.

Working on a ply-split dress.

This chair is an attempt to work out furniture application using ply-split.
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Updated September 19, 2000
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