Jennifer’s early training was in pattern cutting, dressmaking and soft tailoring. She loves cloth, its haptic qualities and how, by expert manipulation and working with the individual qualities of each piece, she could construct three dimensional garments to fit and flow.
Her interests have extended into the fibres and yarns that cloth was constructed from and, how by the combination of particular fibres, cloth of all qualities could be made. After BA graduation, she spent 6 years working in the British woven textile industry, designing cloth for a variety of uses from floor rugs to suitings, furnishings and luxury accessories. In 2016, her focus shifted back to the exploration of fibre and the technical processes within weave, explored in more depth during an MA to further her studies.
Study and exploration confirmed that she is driven to investigate the exact processes involved in the creation of constructed textiles, her particular field of interest is in hand woven textiles, created using hand weaving looms and all associated equipment. Jennifer is concerned with investigating that further. By gathering together all that she has already learnt, she now exploits that potential to design and develop new, possibly novel, surfaces and methods. The work is a continual exploration and investigation of the relationship between fibre and structure in woven cloth.
Often organic and architectural, her clothes are the result of a methodical and carefully contemplated juxtaposition of warp and weft yarns, introducing tension and space in an unexpected manner. Her constructed, expressive, three dimensional surfaces often introduce layers to cause controlled distortion elsewhere within the piece. Every piece, an evidential stage in her journey to move ideas of woven cloth away from the flat planes of fabric. She expects each one to comfortably inhabit its own undefined space.
Her aim for every piece is to provoke inquiry and reflection. They are designed to invite the observer to query their own ideas about cloth and to consider the potential therein. Each piece is individually unique.
“I expect each one to comfortably inhabit it’s own undefined space.”
The title ‘Materiality’ precisely describes my ideas for my work for this exhibition.
My cloth pieces are usually made using unexpected combinations of yarn and weave structures, no two are ever the same, but often the differences are caused by the altering of one element of the composition of the piece. It might be that a different fibre or yarn is used, or that I have altered the weave structure in such a way that the interaction between the warp and weft yarns creates a new or unusual effect. To demonstrate how effective these subtle changes in the materiality of this type of work, I have selected a particular weave structure and used it to construct three lengths, but each one has been made using diverse and completely different materials. Each piece will show just how unrelated the same construction can appear due to its materiality of the selection of yarns and colours.
Hand Weaving is very time consuming. The weaving plan has to be made before you can start and mistakes at this point will cause serious problems later on. It has to be accurate, the number of threads, shafts, heddles, the draft order and the denting all have to be decided before you start. The loom set up can take several days depending on the type of yarns and the number of threads being used. For example, a warp in a fine thread might require 900 threads, if you make a mistake when threading the 460th thread and it is left uncorrected until you have finished threading all 900 threads, you will either have to start again or there will be an evident mistake down the full length of the cloth.
Weaving requires enormous patience but is very rewarding when everything goes well.
The materials Jenny uses are the very essence of what she makes. The character of each yarn and fibre determin the final appearance of each piece. An in-depth knowledge of fibres and the possible reactions between them is essential to make the right decisions. Often sampling has to be done to ensure the right outcome.
Each yarn has to be very carefully selected. The following considerations have to be taken into account:
- The fibre, is it natural or man made?
- What plant or animal has it come from?
- What is the spin or twist of the yarn?
- How many strands make up the twist, are they the same fibre?
- Is it sustainable?
- Is it recyclable?
- Will it need to be dyed, if so, using what and how?
- How will it behave during the weaving process?
- Is it suitable for warp and weft?
- How will it behave during the finishing processes, will it change character?
- Are there any particular extra effects to be added during finishing?
- Will the combination of yarns being incorporated in the work cause a particular effect by working together, if so, how?
In addition to the considerations on the Materials page, in 2019, Jenny decided that at least 90% of her future work would be made from yarn that she already owned, so no piece would contain more than 10% newly purchased yarns.
Jenny’s time in the weaving industry meant that she has a large collection of yarns in a wide variety of colours, fibres and counts.
Whilst she might use similar yarns in a lot of her work, she does not use the same combination of yarns for each piece she makes, the purpose of her work is to experiment with combinations and the interactions with weave structures.
However, most of the yarns she owns are of natural fibres, they may be wool, cotton, silk, linen, paper, hemp or modern fibres like banana & bamboo, each with its own personality.
The combination of those fibres with the count (thickness), the spin, direction of twist and number of ends (strands) throw up endless possibilities, so when the threading and weave structure (of which there are hundreds if not thousands) are brought into play, along with colour variations, the outcomes are going to be varied and often unique.