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A collaborative process

Understanding the weavers` skill-sets and honing her designs, she established a collaborative art.

Copper at an electronic junkyard at Ahmedabad

When she encountered hoards of used copper wires in the junkyards of Ahmedabad, the idea of reusing them was born.

Experimenting with structures of copper wire and had spun paper

She also worked with paper yarns from wasted paper, combined with copper, and other such permutations of aging and wasted materials.

Presenting a commissioned piece to Lady Helen Hamlin (right) in London

“In RCA, we had access to the jewellery lab, which is where I started experimenting with surface treatments on copper – oxidise the copper, patinated it with different components,” she recalls.

Copper wire + Hand spun paper yarn

In an attempt to marry her fascination of aging, wasted materials onto her passion for handweaving, she worked with weavers to weave copper wires into textile.

Experiments and samples with Patination

Having found her ideal metal, she began to work on different iterations – by patinating and electroplating the copper.

Aging surfaces and translating them into material samples

“My process is more like an artist than a designer. The copper project would fall somewhere between art and design.”

A piece commissioned for architect Peter Salter

The final products, working with copper, most often become art or sculptural pieces. She also works alongside architects to design spatial features such as wall hanging, screen dividers and window dressings.

Preparing the material board for Renault KWID

Having worked as a designer with Renault and Peugeot she dons her designer hat with ease.

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Lab 25 Apr 2018

Intertwine: Marrying Indian weaving and aging materials, Neha Lad creates mesmerising new textiles

When we think of ‘weaving’, our imagination drifts to the textures of cotton, khadi and silk. Not for Neha Lad though. Well-immersed in the weaving industry for close to a decade, she took the craft a step forward by breaking out of the traditionally woven textiles. An intertwine of fabric, paper and copper Neha creates textiles that intertwine art, design and experimentation.

As an undergraduate student at the National Institute of Design, her final project – a collaboration with Avani – introduced Neha Lad to weaving. The project used the skills and patterns innate to the weavers of Avani, but Neha used non-traditional materials – resulting in new, contemporary products.

After graduating, Neha worked with Women Weave, the Handloom School, and many other weaving communities across India. Understanding their skill-sets and honing her designs, she established a collaborative art. 

A collaborative process

Understanding the weavers` skill-sets and honing her designs, she established a collaborative art.

Exploring Materials

Neha says her fascination with aging, oxidised, and peeling material is age-old. When she encountered hoards of used copper wires in the junkyards of Ahmedabad, the idea of reusing them was born. But it was in London that she could realise her idea. “In RCA, we had access to the jewellery lab, which is where I started experimenting with surface treatments on copper – oxidised the copper, patinated it with different components,” she recalls. She also worked with paper yarns from wasted paper, combined with copper, and other such permutations of aging and wasted materials. 

Copper at an electronic junkyard at Ahmedabad

When she encountered hoards of used copper wires in the junkyards of Ahmedabad, the idea of reusing them was born.

Experimenting with structures of copper wire and had spun paper

She also worked with paper yarns from wasted paper, combined with copper, and other such permutations of aging and wasted materials.

“Mine isn’t a product-driven project, but a material-driven one. The exploration becomes the driving force that eventually leads to the end result.”

Neha’s work with Copper

In an attempt to marry her fascination of aging, wasted materials onto her passion for handweaving, she worked with weavers to weave copper wires into silk. While studying in RCA, she collaborated with young weavers in Madhya Pradesh to translate her material explorations to handloom. Neha says copper also has the right colour and aesthetic that goes with her work. Having found her ideal metal, she began to work on different iterations – by patinating and electroplating the copper.

Presenting a commissioned piece to Lady Helen Hamlin (right) in London

“In RCA, we had access to the jewellery lab, which is where I started experimenting with surface treatments on copper – oxidise the copper, patinated it with different components,” she recalls.

Usually, electroplating is done by immersing a metal object in a liquid and passing electricity through it. However since Neha worked with textiles, the circuit couldn’t stay connected, that led to bubbling, therefore changing the effects of typical electroplating altogether. Similarly, patination is easier on jewellery, and changes aesthetic when applied to textile. “Controlling these processes are hard, that bit is still a work in progress,” she explains. But it is through these accidental processes that she began creating her art. She also experiments with screen printing, dyeing and block printing, to achieve uneven, interesting effects on textiles.

Copper wire + Hand spun paper yarn

In an attempt to marry her fascination of aging, wasted materials onto her passion for handweaving, she worked with weavers to weave copper wires into textile.

Experiments and samples with Patination

Having found her ideal metal, she began to work on different iterations – by patinating and electroplating the copper.

“Ages ago a sari – like a Patola – took almost a year to make. That is the kind of craft I want to bring back.”

The final products, working with copper, most often become art or sculptural pieces. She also works alongside architects to design spatial features such as wall hanging, screen dividers and window dressings. 

A piece commissioned for architect Peter Salter

The final products, working with copper, most often become art or sculptural pieces. She also works alongside architects to design spatial features such as wall hanging, screen dividers and window dressings.

Although, since she works with waste material, her work has the silver lining of being environmentally conscious. But in the future, she intends to make her own material. With the intent of establishing a studio for herself, she wants to continue to work on limited editions and bespoke creations. “Ages ago a sari – like a Patola – took almost a year to make. That is the kind of craft I want to bring back.” 

Work beyond Copper

Currently settled in Paris, Neha tells us how the city deeply influences her work. Living and working there, Europe has become her primary market. “My process is more like an artist than a designer. The copper project would fall somewhere between art and design.”

When asked what kind of products she sees these textiles create or produce, she responds “Mine isn’t a product-driven project, but a material-driven one. The exploration becomes the driving force that eventually leads to the end result.”

Aging surfaces and translating them into material samples

“My process is more like an artist than a designer. The copper project would fall somewhere between art and design.”

Neha also collaborates with different organisations. She recently did a collection of textiles for the Handloom School, by Women Weave. Having worked as a designer with Renault and Peugeot she dons her designer hat with ease. Co-founder of Taar, her metallic weaving has a wearable facet too.

Preparing the material board for Renault KWID

Having worked as a designer with Renault and Peugeot she dons her designer hat with ease.

Neha looks forward to launching her new collection by the end of 2018. Until then, to know more about the designer-artist, check out her website. Keep up with Neha’s work on her Instagram.