Barbara J. Walker – Tracery

  • Honourable Mention

In ply-splitting, elements move through each other instead of over and under, or around each other. A four-ply cord is split such that two plies are on one side of the tool (a gripfid) and two plies are on the other side. Another cord is pulled through the split. Several cords can be split in succession, with another pulled through the openings all at once.

As a lover of puzzles, I find the kind of ply-splitting used in this piece to be the best of challenges. The motifs are complex and require the use of inversions, a type of intricate ply-splitting in which cords frequently change direction.

This type of motif is found in ancient Peruvian textiles that were loop-twined in structure. When I found that I could convert these designs from loop-twining to ply-splitting, my work took off in a fascinating direction. In this piece, I first had to figure out how to replicate the motif in a flat ply-split band, in which the cords move from side to side and back. Once I understood the structure of the motif, the next step was to proceed from two to three dimensions. A lot of thought went into starting the base; the motif cords had to emerge from the surrounding cords.

The idea of tracery came to mind as I worked up the sides, outlining the motifs as though they were within an architectural framework.

For the finish, flared cords are wrapped at their ends. The rest of the cords’ ends are clipped and hidden underneath the points.

Structure: Ply-splitting

Dimensions: 7.5 x 7.25 x 7.25 inches (19 x 18.5 x 18.5 cm)

Materials: Artist-made 4-ply cords in linen, linen/cotton, and/or linen/rayon cords

No loom used: Ply-splitting does not require a loom

  • Barbara J. Walker