The Wizard of Ply Split Braiding

His unremitting quest of learning ply-split braiding took retired (National School of Design) NID professor Erroll Pire to Jaisalmer in 1985 only to learn the rare  traditional camel belt braiding. He gave such a twist to this traditional craft that  now his many innovative 3D design objects are collected globally.

It has been a long while since Erroll has been teaching workshops in India and internationally for many years on this braiding technique which involves untwisting and retwisting plied cords and passing them into one another.

He took the suggestion of a fellow colleague to look for camel belt braining and his curiosity landed him in Jaisalmer to learn ply-split braiding from his teacher the late Shri ISHWAR Singh Bhati, who was simple man with a job of a peon in the Collectors office.

Ply-split braided camel girths of Kutch are made from local wool patterns with traditional patterns. Though it is an extremely resilient craft and, over the years, fibre artists/textile artists from across the world have learnt and adapted the technique for their individual expressions. From bags, to belts, to wall hangings, my one-of-a-kind wearable full-length dresses but traditional camel belt braiding is hardly seen now a days

He has played a unique role in helping to keep this ancient technique alive and to develop it in new directions.During lockdown when many of his schedule workshop with design institutions got cancelled he decided to make of his skill by practising at home with the materials (which were meant for the three workshops) and soon a daily routine of ply-split braiding set in. By and by two works emerged,these works would be fitted onto bamboo frames and would be stools for seating.

His upcoming project includes a two-day workshop with the Braid Society for which he will be sending the proposal as soon as the conference dates and location is announced. The proposal is about Constructing a HELICOID using the Ply-Split Braiding Technique.

The ply split braiding can certainly appeal to the students who are already practicing macrame, for them the transition to combine ply-split braiding would be easier to learn.

Image from Garland Magazine

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