The graduation project ‘250m of Curb Chain’ of Cleo Van Woensel has a multidisciplinary character, in which the link chain, one of the most known archetypes of the jewellery scene, occupies a prominent position.
Sewing thread is replaced by a silver-plated link chain in a conventional set of clothing that consists of a jacket, trousers, a shirt and a skirt. The garments are hand sewn in a chequered textile. The lockstitch out of link chain becomes a ‘construction’ that simultaneously connects textile, jewellery and the human skin. This is how the 250m-curb chain becomes more than a shimmering decoration. It is an essential, functional material in the construction of the fabric.
Cotton sewing thread is common, sober and simple in comparison with the silver-plated link chain. Because the precious and ennobled character of the link chain is now hidden in the seams, the garment is not only economically valuable, but it also testifies to a modest luxury, that is only meant for the ‘insider’, the one who knows about the secret, the wearer.
The hidden construction of the link chain refers to a sense of intimacy. The jewellery piece comes into contact with the human skin, like it always does. Inside the wool fabric the cold metal glides over the skin; it scours, it scrapes, and it caresses and makes a secret commitment with the wearer. As a spectator we only catch a glimpse off this covenant: not exuberant or extravagant, but modest and barely visible.
Other aspects that refer to the world of jewellery are ‘craftsmanship’ and ‘time’ which are emphasized in this work by the contemplative character of the – laborious – hand sewing. This craft, labour-intensive and time-consuming process refers again to the luxury of this age, in strange contrast with the machine-made curb chain. At the same time, the repetitive act of sewing ensures rest, concentration and satisfaction with its implementation.
The booklets that belong to this project are hand-tied using the same link chain. The pages are empty, the focus once again is on the sparkling connection. The booklets in pocket-size refer to the jewel in a different way: the length of the tied link chain is the same as the length of a particular type of necklace (choker, matinee, lariat) and this dimension determines the shape of the booklet.