A design guided by the body

Traditional Cypriot textile


Julia Astreou-Christoforou是研究布藝的學者與藝術家,在地中海東部的島國賽普勒斯的Cyprus Handicraft Centre已工作21年了,工作內容主要是研究當地的傳統布藝的設計與編織方法。這個早在八千前年就有人定居的地方,其工藝文化的歷史也極為久遠。當地的織布方法其中一個最大特色,是工匠們不單以手來製作,而是全身的運動。在走道上整齊排列數十個線筒,牽動著線勾在牆上的編織架上,重覆又重覆,結成一個巨大的網,再將網逐點拆下,卷成球,就完成編織布料的準備工作。過程中不停的走動,不單上以手來感受繩線的質感,還用腳來感受其長度,身體記住了原材料的量與質,自然對完成品有著不同的體會。



Seeing beautiful objects, it is a natural desire to actually touch their surface. Be it a fuzzy leaf, a naturally aged chair, a soft towel or a rustic tea cup, the sense of touch seems to be essential for appreciating and memorizing the tangible beauty. Craftsmen are perhaps the most experienced ones who can easily determine the quality of a piece of work simply by touching it. They know to judge how precise a curve is by sliding a finger tip along it, they can tell the correct tightness of a piece of mounted cloth. Perhaps for this very reason, artisanal handicraft always carries a unique temperament.

Julia Astreou-Christoforou is a textile designer specializing in woven textiles. She previously worked at the Cyprus Handicraft Service for 21 years and has done extensive research on Cypriot textiles. With human residing ever since eight thousand years ago, the island has a long history of art and craft. One of the distinctive features of the traditional Cypriot weaving is how it involves movements of the whole body: tens of spools are tidily lined up and connected to the hooks by threads. The threads are first entwined into a net, and then spun into balls that are to be weaved into fabric. The repetitive weaving actions do not only require the craftsman to feel the texture of threads by hands, but also the length of the threads by their feet. The body gets to memorize the weight and touch of the materials, forming an overall sensation of the end product.

Julia rarely works on design drawings; she usually let her hands guide her design. Sitting in front of the loom, she aimlessly experiments until a certain pattern or weaving technique pops up and inspires her. Then she would try to match a textile product with this idea that comes from her experiments. The final product could be a cushion cover, a scarf or anything else. Different weaving techniques or different thickness of thread creates patterns with dissimilar demeanor; the outcome is not to be controlled by preliminary design, but by the actual experience of working with both hands.

Works made by Julia, for instance, cushion cover, mobile phone case, and zipper pouch can be bought on her website: www.juliastreou.com.