The pocket squares I make are inspired by historical figures, and creating the designs is a process that begins with research. By looking at artifacts, literature, architecture, portraits, fashion history, and artwork from the figures' lives and times (thanks, internet), the designs come together through small notes, ideas, and drawings.
The Frank Pocket Square is inspired by the American poet Frank O'Hara, known for his influence on The New York School and Jazz Poetry. The first poem I read of his, and one of the most lovely things I have ever read,"The Day Lady Died," is an elegy to the late Billie Holiday, which inspired the gardenia motif for the design.
After consolidating the research ideas into maquette, or scale drawing using freehand and drafting techniques, the design is transferred onto golden-cut linoleum blocks mounted to birch. I carve the stamps by hand using gouges and knives, carving away the blank or negative space, so that the positive raised surface remains, like a three-dimensional drawing.
Once the carving is finished, the blocks are rolled with ink and then registered using a jig onto natural silk squares. I use my body weight, kneeling on the block to press the ink through the fabric, much like the traditional Indian method of printing used for thousands of years. Except I have the addition of volleyball kneepads which helps with long printing runs immensely and adds a certain element of... Sporty-Spice-style.
After the inks have cured, or dried, for at least a week, they are dyed using Jacquard and natural pigments, leaving the printed parts slightly embossed and opaque on the colorful silk. This is perhaps my favorite part of the process, not because it's the end, but because it is the birth of an idea coming to fruition. Sometimes the design organically changes, takes on a life of its own, turns out a surprise, and sometimes it's exactly as I had imagined it. I never know, and maybe that's what keeps me coming back....