For the final installment of our Interview Series for this semester, we have an interview with Ben Jones, a weaver in the graduate program of Textile Design. Ben is a force of energy in the studio and his absence will be noticeable after he graduates this month but we are so excited to see where he goes from here. Be sure to check out Ben and all of our graduates’ thesis show at the Paley Design Center on Dec 13 from 4-7 pm. Enjoy!
How did you choose Textile Design as a major?
I was interested in silk-screen printing as an art form. I wanted to gain more technical skills in printing on fabrics using newer technologies. When I took a class in weaving, I knew that I wanted to weave all the time, so I made that my major. Weaving also allows me to dabble in making images (like prints), but also textures, and forms with really cool machinery and technology.
When did you learn to knit/weave/print, and who taught you?
I learned how to silk-screen print at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in 2016. The apprenticeship mentors taught me how to do silk-screen printing on like 50 yards of fabric. I learned how to weave in Weave Design 1 with the amazing teacher here, Bridget Foster.
Do you have a background in design or textiles?
I have a background in a “fine” art studio practice, which included painting, drawing, printmaking, and sculpture.
Who are your design heroes?
Probably Rei Kawakubo from Comme Des Garcons, or Wolfgang Tillmans (an amazing German photographer), or Anni Albers for uncovering the visual language of weaving, there are too many…
Tell us about the colors, landscapes, artists, or architecture that inspire your design work.
Rosy colors have been a theme in my work for about a year now. Science Fiction plant life, queer culture, house music, physics, early morning light, paradigm shifts, and urban life are just a few of the things that inspire me. Like the previous question, there are too many to list them all, so many!
Which design from your portfolio are you most proud of, or is most special to you?
I don’t have a single design that I am most proud of. There’s one weaving that has sort of been cemented as “the best,” but that’s likely because it was the first in the series I am working on. The weaving I am talking about opened a lot of doors for new weavings, so it’s special to me.
Are there any techniques in textile design you’d like to explore further?
Multi-layer cloth, open reed, weaving with one warp on multiple looms simultaneously, knitting, felting, devoree, tatting, weaving trims, moire with calendaring, macrame, braiding, ikat, resist dyeing, dye-sub printing, velvet weaving, so many things to try…
What do you have on your knitting machine/loom/sketchbook today?
I have a tubular double cloth on my loom today with different weave structures throughout that make the tube function as a “sock” or “shoe” concept. The idea is to show potential employers how weaving structures/weaving technology can be utilized in mass manufacturing to easily make shoes in one step, without cutting, sewing, etc…
What is your favorite thing to do to distract yourself from school stress
I make sure to go hangout/chillout with my boyfriend and play video games with him every night for about an hour.
What is your favorite class, and why?
Studio, because it’s an amazing environment and structure to discover yourself as a designer. It took a while to understand that it was up to me, though.
What advice would you give an incoming student into the Textile Design department?
Be yourself and work harder than you think you should.
What surprised you the most about Textile Design at Philau/Jefferson?
How eager the faculty is to help you make your dreams come true. They really just want to make you your best self.
What is your favorite thing about Textile Design?
I don’t have one favorite thing about Textile Design. I love that yarn is a line and is organized into a dimensional pattern. I just love that. I also LOVE the people in textiles, both in industry and school. I also love that textile design is a very powerful industry/trade, and no one understands it.