15 Aug Friday Files by: BOYAC – Passementeries
Boyac is pleased to introduce Morrison Polkinghorne passmentries, here we have a small insight into his life and his work.
What inspired you to start Passementries?
I have always made and sold things since I was 16, and in 1990 I knew there was something I wanted to do, but could not quite work out what it was. Then in November of that year I was invited to an evening at Boyac to meet with a french Tassel maker, Mr Jerome Declercq from La Passementerie Nouvelle and it struck me: Tassel making is what I want to do.
But the beginning was tough: How does one make a tassel? How do you make a cord? How are those knots tied to make a tassel tie-back embrace? Or how, as my partner Robert put it “does one resurrect a ‘dying” 18th century European craft in the New World and make it a viable enterprise ex Sydney?
At the time there were no books on the subject. But I intrinsically knew my knots from Boy Scouts many years earlier, plus I knew the basics of weaving. Historic Houses Trust in Sydney had a book in French on the “art of passementerie” so they photocopied it, bound it, and gave it to me. I think that was the most valuable gift I have ever received, and I still treasure its ragged edition. Christmas that same year I ended up in Paris and country France, , visited trimmings makers and decided then and there that tassels was defiantly what I wanted to make and do. Prior to this I was making soft furnishings and it took 6 months to be selling 100% passementeries, soft furnishings 0%
Were you able to find a loom easily?
All of the tools I use to make trimmings and tassels I had to make myself. With my rope wheel, I saw a diagram that Leonardo Da Vinci drew, so I copied that but with a 240v motor. I was sent a diagram of a loom from a lady in London who did restoration work of Windsor Castle. I made one of these looms over a weekend from a brick pallet and taught myself how to weave on it. One of my favourite things to make is bullion fringe, This I use a wheel attached to a wall, that has up to six spools of twisted thread that is then woven on a loom to make the fringe. With two people, we can weave 6 -10 meters a day.
I love to use a mercerised cotton to make trimmings and tassels. The thread I use is of the highest grade and the variety of colours are astounding. There are about 600 colours available. As a designer, having this wide range of colure to mix and match is dream. I use to purchase threads from France and Germany, but I found a supplier in Bangkok. This thread is infinitely better, stronger, softer and a better sheen than what I was buying from Europe.
How is your new life?
How is my new life in Cambodia? It feels like home. After coming regularly to Asia several times a year sourcing textiles, it feel very natural to live here. I have unpacked 90% of the moving boxes, I have set up my looms, training workers and learning the language from nought.
What is your favourite thing about Cambodia?
The art scene is up and coming here in Battambang. I know of three artists in a blocks radius who have exhibited their work globally. Our home/workshop is located in the colonial quarter on Street 2 which is up for a Unesco heritage listing. There is an abundance of traditional crafts that are flourishing, basket weaving, incense making, wood carvers etc. The architecture, the arts and the crafts are my favourite things.
What is favourite Cambodia dish?
I love how we walk to the market for the fresh daily produce to cook for dinner. In Australia, we would go shopping once a week to stock the fridge. But here, everything is fresh. The pork is amazing, pork is not a white meat. And the infinite varieties of Amok, from a firm set “custard” to a lazily oozing rich coconut cream, always leaves me surprised and clamouring for even more.
Photography by – Nikki To