Based in the London / Surrey borders, Madeleine Jude is a textile designer and weaver, following in the footsteps of generations of cotton and silk weavers and spinners who came from the North of England.
Where and how are your products made?I work from my garden studio and weave on a beautifully crafted Dutch 'Dobby' loom, using the best of yarns from British manufacturers and suppliers. After creating my design I extensively sample at the loom, to ensure that the cloth will be of the best quality and durable. After this I will start production proper. That entails winding the warp threads onto the loom, passing each through a heddle on one of its 32 shafts and then through a dent in the reed that will spread the threads evenly across the loom, before tying the threads in groups onto the front beam of the loom. It will take around 800 warp threads to make one of my lambswool throw.
After this I start weaving with the weft thread. The thread is wound onto pirns (bobbins) and I throw the shuttle that holds the pirn back and forth through the warp threads, changing the arrangement of shafts with my feet on the treadle with each pass, and beating in the thread. For a lambswool throw I will do this around 1,500 times.
When finished I cut the fabric from the loom and hand finish it, washing, fulling and brushing woolen cloth, mangling (hard pressing) if it is linen, or giving it a light steam press if it is silk or cotton. And then its time to hand sew on the labels. 100% made by me. 100% British!
Why do you do what you do?Simply put, I have to! Its what gets me up in the morning and makes me happy. I love the whole process from designing a fabric that is perfectly fitted to its purpose, to holding the finished object in my hands and experiencing the wonder that a tangle of threads can transform into a beautiful cloth that may be handed down across generations.
Favourite piece (and why)?My 'Dukagang Stripe' lambswool throw in ochre, red, grey and unbleached white. Why? Because it started as an experiment in deconstructing the design blocks that make my 'Dukagang' pattern and recombining them to create a contemporary design in a great combination of colours. I love it because it not only worked as a modern twist on a classic block design technique, but it is also really soft, warm, snuggly and inviting!
What inspires you?The simplicity of old handspun and handwoven traditional functional textiles with their sombre palette of natural dyed blues and reds and natural fibre shades of browns, greys and whites. The incredible depth of colour and complexity of design in antique Italian jacquard silks. And the austere and modernist aesthetic of new Japanese textile designers. The velvety depth of colour and texture of damp and mossy English forest. The irridescent flash of blue and orange of a kingfisher darting along a stream. The ruggedness of the Cornish cliffs and the quiet and contemplative golden light of a misty and dewy autumn field at dawn. I could go on endlessly... which is my beautiful problem... its everything!
What’s special about your designs?That they have a timeless aesthetic which balances both form and function. So, when designing a new textile I first think about what it is to be used for and then I select just the right weave structure and yarn to create a textile that will both be a pleasure to wear or use and will last and last. Each design and finished article is a unique modern classic, a future heirloom, that has been made using skills and traditions that have been in my family for centuries but are also many thousands of years old.