Introducing Jessica Light
We were delighted to work with Jessica on the brilliant collection of raffia belts that she hand-wove for us in her London studio
From fringing the Sultan of Brunei's throne room to macrame belts for Vivienne Westwood, Jessica's trims and tassels have adorned the worlds of fashion and interiors.
Can you tell us a little about your work?
I'm the last working passementerie weaver left in London and all my pieces are hand-woven on a mid
19th-century foot-powered loom that I bought in a car boot sale for £100 over 30 years ago. I use techniques that date back to the 15/16th centuries, creating contemporary and design-led passementerie that infuses this endangered heritage craft with an ‘anarchic sensibility’.
I don't have a set design process. Everything, [visuals, colours, and materials] all go into the spin cycle in my brain and come out the other side as my work. I tend to throw everything at something and then discard most of it, honing it down to only the necessary elements. I’m known for choosing unusual materials such as horsehair, paper and wool not usually associated with this craft and an uncommon
I mainly design as I make as that has a more organic outcome. I often make abstract artworks that nobody sees that also inform the colours and visuals I put into my passementerie.
Most exciting commission (apart from these belts obvs)
My grandest commission has to be the big yellow balcony fringe for Buckingham Palace, seen at all Royal occasions - the one I replaced was 98 years old. My humblest? A single small key tassel [although I've made thousands now]
Where does inspiration strike?
I mix references up as I don't like things to be too literal visually. I'm always wandering around museums, galleries or historic houses as you can pick out details you wouldn't necessarily see online. It's also about making a physical creative connection with what I see. I also get inspiration from what I'm reading, listening to and what I'm watching.
What’s a good exhibition you’ve seen recently?
I'm still obsessed with the Fusilli exhibition I saw last year and I'm also having a bit of a Georgian moment after seeing Style and Society: Dressing The Georgians at The Queen's Gallery. I couldn't pick a favourite museum or gallery, but The Dulwich Picture Gallery would be up there as one of my faves, as is The Estorik Gallery in Canonbury, which always has interesting exhibitions - and a good mooch around the V&A is always inspiring.
Something you’ve always wanted to, but are yet to make
I quite fancy doing some trims for Chanel!
How do you like the Raffia belts and is there something nice about the idea of your creations being worn?
I love the belts. They're so sweet but could be worn in so many ways from pretty to minimal outfits. I'd wear mine to clinch a strict black shift dress and I love the idea of people parading around in passementerie. Such a great, fun way to give exposure and visibility to an endangered heritage craft.