Silk braided bangle
To manufacture a woven silk braid bangle based on a photograph that our client had kept for forty years.
Nicholas was approached by a long standing and much loved client who wanted us to manufacture the silk braid bangle based on the long-kept photograph. It was published in the 1979 Women’s Weekly and our client believed that one day she would be able to commission this piece.
The detail of the braid involved is a particular pattern braid involving several colours of Japanese silk woven by a technique called Kumihimo. The loose silk is purchased in bundles and the multi strands are woven using a central circular table with threads weighed down by bobbin weights and the braid once woven begins to appear down through a hole in the centre a bit like the old fashioned tomboy stitch.
We had never been asked to create a piece of jewellery like this, so Nicholas first contacted The Jam Factory believing they may have a practitioner who crafted wearable woven pieces involving fabrics or cords. It was our lucky day when they introduced us to Helen Vonow. She had produced braids over many years, but not of the exact design featured in the photo. By chance, Helen was returning to Japan to revisit her friend who taught her many techniques, and after viewing the photo Helen assured us that her teacher would know how to achieve the squared-off braid pattern.
Whilst in Japan, Helen emailed Nicholas with a choice of colours and our client was able to decide on the final shades of colours to be used to replicate the original bangle.
Once back in Adelaide, Helen involved us in the process of getting the scale and thickness of the final braid right, and after a couple of trial lengths, produced exactly what we needed. A thrilling finish to the weaving of the braid happened when Helen invited our client to personally weave the last section of the braid at our studio.
What a beautiful moment it was – lots of emotion and tears, and all captured on film.
To complete the bangle, Matthew was able to craft the caps for the ends in 18 carat yellow gold and they captured the raw ends of the threads. Nicholas glued the braid cautiously into place and the piece was ready.
From beginning to end all the pieces of the puzzle came together and we marvelled at the way it happened. It was meant to be: the fact that our client trusted us with the commission, that we met Helen Vonow, that she had woven braids before, that she was going to Japan, that she could buy the threads and bring them back, and that she was happy to persevere to get the braid right. And finally that Matthew could use his great skill and craft the necessary gold pieces. Nicholas feels ‘serendipity’ played a huge part in this process.
Our client is overjoyed with the final bangle, she will treasure it for life and has launched it at a few special parties with outfits she had made to match! It is a most striking bangle and we thank her sincerely for this amazing opportunity.