Jayne Emerson is a practicing textile designer, author and tutor. Having trained at Central St Martins, her work now sells to clients including Chanel, Dior, Balenciaga and Marc Jacobs, as well as Marks and Spencer, Boden and John Lewis. She has written six craft books and regularly teaches workshops in experimental textiles. You may also have seen her on Channel 4’s Kirstie’s Handmade Britain teaching Kirsty Allsopp how to needle felt. Here Jayne talks us through her creative collaboration with The Small Home which resulted in some gorgeous new designs for the A/W 2020 moccasin collection.
Our collaboration began with a package through the post. Ayshea sent a package of ideas for me to consider. Next, we arranged for her to visit my studio. Together we spent the day exploring ideas, rifling through books, magazines and textile samples.
A creative conversation starts with a mood board, this collects my ideas in one place. It can be a collage of magazine clippings and fabric samples. A digital mood board is also a great way to collaborate and start conversations about new directions.
It was an intense day of brainstorming and by the end of it, we both had a clear vision of the new designs of the A/W 2020 moccasin slipper collection. We kept sheepskin as the fabric of the slippers as it is a huge reason for their popularity. However, although the original embroidery – based on a traditional Polish design – has proved popular, we wanted this next design development to be more about The Small Home aesthetic. The new embroidery needed to be different and fresh.
I like to mix the unexpected and create differences that work. I love the leather sequin embellishments we used on the Allium design. We also added metallic yarns to a soft colour palette. I tried to work with designs with the same amount of stitches as the original to keep the costings workable. The embellishments also needed to be durable, after all we wear slippers every day. I resisted using anything too complicated or time-consuming but who knows, maybe we will do a few couture pairs!
Together our collaborative efforts have produced some gorgeous new designs. I am terribly impatient – much better at inspiring ideas for hand stitch than executing them! I usually work on a sewing machine, but felt it was important to keep the hand-stitched element on this project. So, we ended up unpicking slippers and stitching into them. The leather was tricky to stitch into without the proper tools. Luckily, Ayshea turned out to be brilliant with a needle.
I‘d like to say I’m not influenced by trends but this wouldn’t be true - you cannot ‘unsee’ things. I am constantly scouring magazines, galleries, Instagram and Pinterest for new paintings, textiles and photography to fall in love with. You get a feeling for what is instinctively right.
We share the same approach to sustainability. My work has always been about reusing reclaimed and vintage textiles. I rarely buy anything new and my business is zero waste. Our ethos couldn’t be more perfectly aligned.
A successful collaboration is when neither person could have achieved the finished result on their own. I often work on my own, with only podcasts or the radio for company. I enjoy this solitude as it enables me to completely immerse myself in my process. However, I am naturally sociable and love sharing my ideas. In my workshops, I throw out my ideas for others to catch and play with. A collaboration is different again: it’s about getting in tune with someone else and learning to dance with them to create something beautiful.
At the very beginning of the design process, Ayshea gifted me a pair of these wonderful slippers; they are currently keeping my toes very cosy as I type!
Find out more about Jayne Emerson’s work here: https://jayneemerson.co.uk
Browse The Small Home moccasin slippers here: https://www.thesmallhome.co.uk/collections/sheepskin-moccasin-slippers