Discover Jessica Light's beautiful trims and tassels
Jessica Light is one of the last few remaining weavers designing and manufacturing in the UK, using handmade techniques that date back to the 16th century. I asked how her career began and where she gets her inspiration from.
How did you start your career in the world of tiebacks and trims?
When I left Trent Polytechnic after completing a B.A in textile design, specialising in weave, I went to work for Wendy Cushing Passementerie as I'd based my degree project on ribbons. I love the physical process of weaving and hers was one of the few industries at that time that still produced trims made by hand.
The first thing I wove was 100m of bullion fringe for the Sultan of Brunei, which left my hands raw and blistered by the end! I then went on to work in the fashion jewellery industry and that led to working with the corsettier Mr Pearl on couture gowns for Christian Lacroix, Thierry Mugler and John Galliano.
How did Jessica Light trimmings begin?
I set up Jessica Light Trims and Tassels in 2007 with the view to produce trims that were more contemporary and had a design edge to them. I knew that there was a gap in the market for something that used colour and materials in a new way. My most recent collections have featured paper, net, light reflective yarns, and leather. I’ve also used copper pipes, funnels and dolls’ heads for tassel tops; plastic cable ties woven in to make spiky fringes, and made tassels out of newspaper, elastic, and string.
What are the most exciting projects you have worked on?
I’ve been really lucky in that I’ve had some really exciting commissions, from making crystal stars for Kylie Minogue to weaving the balcony fringe for Buckingham Palace. Most of the restoration projects I worked on, which included Frogmore House, Ham House and Windsor Castle, were undertaken when I was with Wendy or was freelancing. These projects involved dealing with organisations like English Heritage, who would research the designs from paintings from the period to try and recreate period trims. Sometimes I’d actually have an original sample to work from and would have to try and understand how it was woven. This could be tricky, as something from the 17th century usually resembled a worn out rag!
What’s your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from all over the place. It might be an exhibition, a film, a book, a museum, an historic house, architecture, or sometimes it out of nowhere and I tend to mix ideas together. I don’t like my work to be too literal. I usually have between 2-4 collection ideas in my head in any one time.
To give you an example, the Bexley collection had inspiration from several directions. The tagline was 1930s mock-Tudor suburbia meets voodoo witchdoctor! I’d been riding buses around parts of London I didn’t know and became almost obsessed with the streets of Thirties black and white houses on London’s outskirts and their patterning of chevrons and checks. A visit to Eltham Palace inspired the art deco palette of mint, sage peach, and coral, while time spent in the Horniman Museum’s African galleries inspired the tribal element.
How are the Jessica Light trims unique?
What sets my work apart is the design element, sense of colour, and originality I infuse into all my products. I’ve been quite overwhelmed with the response my work has received. People have told me that they’ve never seen anything like it before. I’m attracting customers who would never normally even look at tassels as an interior option because of their traditional image.
How should you use your tiebacks and tassels?
You can use trims and tassels in many ways: jazz up your curtains with our tiebacks, use the key tassels as handle or light pulls, peep them from cushion corners or bolsters or decorate your bags and key rings. Think of our products as an easy and creative way to bring colour and decoration into your home.