Bow Ties Sydney, Australia - Le Noeud Papillon - Specialists In Self Tying Bow Ties

With over 1.7 million page views, Le Noeud Papillon's blog continues to provide lovers of bow ties with unique stories and content relating to menswear through interviews with industry icons and vignettes into topics relating to suits, shirts, shoes, ties, designers, weavers and much more.

To see the latest products we are working on, visit our online store on

Want to search the blog for something or someone you've heard about? Use the search bar below to search for all related content.

Google Le Noeud Papillon's Blog

Translate This Blog

Friday, March 29, 2013

Ivan Crivellaro's Moving On Up

Many of you land on our blog searching for the work of Ivan Crivellaro, an artisan shoe maker from Italy we interviewed some time ago. The best way to follow Ivan's progress is to read his Facebook page, a new one he has running. You can log onto it here: 

Centre: Milano dandy Lino Ieluzzi of Al Bazaar (store) fame; Right, shoemaker Ivan Crivellaro

Happy Easter!!

Being an Australian with Greek heritage means that I get to enjoy two Easters each year. Our own Easter does not come until one week after the Jews have celebrated passover. Why this is the rule I have no idea at all, perhaps it is a respect for the fact that the Jews' religion pre-dates ours, well, not technically if you take into account we also believe in the Old Testament. Now look at that, the moment I start talking about religion I get confused.... I will have to ask Oppenheimer for some clarification. Speaking of Jews and Gentiles, that reminds me of a great joke a young rabbi told me last week which coincides with Easter and the arrival of a new Pope. He began:

Every time a new Pope is elected, a few days later he is paid a visit by the head Rabbi who walks into the Vatican, walks up to the newly elected Pope and hands him the oldest most ratty tatty envelope. The tradition is that the Pope receives the envelope and hands it back. The tradition has been going on since the birth of the Catholic Church.

One day, a young new Pope is elected and at the same time, the old Rabbi passes over and his young son takes up the post as Rabbi. The young Rabbi is told that he must go and see the new Pope out of respect of tradition and is handed the ratty envelope. He goes to the Vatican and hands the envelope the Pope but the young Rabbi, finding the Pope very agreeable, asks him if they might share a glass of wine together.

They go back to the Pope's apartment and there they open a bottle of wine. After a few glasses the young Rabbi says "Don't you think this is ridiculous, that we have done this generation after generation, down through the ages of ages and not one of us had opened the letter". After a few more glasses of wine, both agree that it is time to unravel the great mystery. The Pope opens the envelope and reads it's contents:

Moishe's Catering Service,
Invoice Outstanding For Last Supper Jesus Of Nazareth....

The Pope then promptly handed back the letter to the Rabbi.

Jokes aside, last night I had the night to myself so I decided to pay homage to the carpenter by painting his image on a pocket square. It is still frustrating when you work for an hour to create outlines that then bleed, but the art of making a great hand-painted pocket squares is that you need to break everything down to baby steps and give each step plenty of time. Patience is a key, there is no slip slop slap here. It is definitely not screen printing.

Happy Easter folks and I hope you enjoy your time with family and friends. It is what Jesus would have wanted.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Sneak Preview To 2013....

Okay, so we have begun putting our new designs into play and pretty soon they will be ready. I felt it was fair to show you one of our new designs. Although it won't be to everyone's taste, it is something which will appeal to polka dot lovers who want a sea change. I am hoping this number will be ready for the English summer and someone might turn up to Wimbeldon wearing it!

Copyright Le Noeud Papillon Sydney 2013 - The reproduction of this design is strictly prohibited. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I Can't Even Play Poker! Well, Not Very Well Anyway.

The second last time I played poker I was the last man standing against my brother. We had been playing in a group of six. He was terribly greedy, buying back in over and over. He refused to see me win the pot. Eventually, having been so close to winning, he whittled me down and finally I accepted his challenge for an 'all in' and he beat me on one card and I walked away tired and penniless. That did not stop me from commissioning a design with Max Parker of Geoffrey Parker boardgames. Max and I worked on some new chips which were made of clay and designed specifically for our company. He also gave me 'showman' cards as the authentic playing cards did not have enough bling for my liking. So here it is, and now that we have finished it, it can be made for you too. Make your enquiries through

Sylvia Riley, The Working Life Of A Textiles Artist

Sylvia Riley is a textiles artist who resides in Sydney. She was born in Switzerland, and lived in Italy but at the age of thirteen she moved to Australia. There are not many textiles artists in Australia, so to find one in your own city is a rare opportunity not to be missed. Sylvia divides her time between her family, her textiles art business, Silksational, and her masters degree at UNSW COFA. Her major work currently being produced is a combination of dyeing and painting on cotton and linen canvas. Sylvia is adept at many forms of textiles painting and was kind enough to show me through a variety of her work which includes shibori, batik, devore, felting and screen printing.

Snowgums, one of Sylvia Riley's most notable works, dye and paint on silk fabric
Whilst I was already on my path to making hand-painted pocket squares at home, Sylvia set me straight on a few points regarding this elusive art form. The first thing that Sylvia noted is that textiles art is very much affected by the choice of material you are choosing to dye and/or paint. The various weights and weaves in silk, linen, cotton or velvet mixes will greatly affect the way in which you can apply, maintain or work with fabrics. For example, the most important aspect to silk hand-painting is that the dye is always kept moist while you are working with it. When the dye dries it stops moving and is no longer able to be manipulated. It is therefore imperative that you work in either humid conditions or on cool mornings as this gives you the best chance of making sure your colours spread evenly.

Shibori, an ever increasingly popular textiles art. Similar to tie dye but different and creating a more naturally looking fabric.
Sylvia explained that one of the most important aspects of painting a painting on silk is planning your work. Because the dyes run quickly and must be applied with alacrity to prevent splotching your work, it is prudent to know what it is you are trying achieve by way of colours before you begin. Although some textiles designers keep a hair dryer next to their work to prevent running, Sylvia explains that for the best results, dye should be allowed to dry naturally to prevent the dye from being uneven.
In her own work for her masters, Sylvia has explored the realm of dye and painting on a cotton and linen canvas. Her work is combination of figurative and abstract techniques used to create a visual image which is very earthly and looks very much inspired by traditional native arts. Her work in shibori is similar, using leaves and natural flora debris to create silk satin fabrics which have earthly tones but which are bright with colour.

Tie Dying fabrics. Something which is very popular at the moment.
Apart from being a textiles artist, Sylvia is also a textiles art teacher. Whilst Sylvia teaches the various art forms of batik, hand-painting, shibori and tie-dye, it was the hand-painting I was most interested in. Here are some of the tips she gave me regarding silk painting.
1. If you are using gutta, always make sure that if you are using anything heavier than 10mm silk, you must use solvent based gutta.
2. Always apply the gutta at right angles to the silk to ensure that it penetrates to the other side.
3. Always make sure you check the gutta lines for any breaks or the dye will leak through.
4. Prepare your work thoroughly, make sure it is stretched like a drum over your frame.
5. Atmospheric conditions are important, the best times to paint is on a cool morning.
6. Depending on the thickness of your fabric, you will need to apply the dye differently, therefore, always keep a test patch of fabric next to you to familiarise yourself with the various weights of fabric. The best fabrics to paint on are the lighter weight (10mm or less) habotai and crepe satin.
7. Always use white vinegar to bring the silk back to it’s original acidic chemistry
8. When painting background solid colours, try to work the dye on two fronts to create an even colour

What Sylvia loves about textiles art is that it is full of surprises. She equates the work of hand-painting as similar to water colour paints but says that the difference is the element of surprise. She says that you never know exactly what is going to happen with the dyes or how they might move, how they might run to the shapes you create in gutta, flow along a different type of silk or how they might react to additives such as sugar and salt. The process is one which can render differing results every time you apply yourself to the same project. Even when applying products such as anti-fusant to stop the dyes from running, the process is still never the same as painting using acrylic. For these reasons, Sylvia says the art form is forever surprising her.

Whilst there are many practitioners of textiles arts in Australia, they are mostly segmented between the various art forms. There is only one industry body which represents all these forms, and that is ATASDA –the Australian Textiles And Surface Art Design Association. Textiles artists are fighting for recognition within the realm of art as many of these artists are very much removed from craft and the discipline is nearly all about thought and expression as it is about craft.

Sylvia's latest foray is into women's wear with earthy tones from local flora and fauna creating  classically unique Australian pieces for women.

Apart from selling products relating to textiles art and design, Sylvia also teaches students how to get results on fabric. Examples of works such as the one above, can be taught at Silksational. If you were going to make a foray into textiles arts, there is probably no better place in Sydney to start than Silksational.
NB: A small fact I picked up whilst talking to Sylvia and her assistance Briohny is that Australia is actually home to one of the world’s most recognised hand-weavers, Liz Williamson, who in 2007 was recognised as a ‘living treasure’ by the Object Gallery Touring Exhibition in 2007. I have a feeling this is going to be the next person I track down!

Monday, March 25, 2013

600,000 Readers

At the end of today we will have reached 600,000 blog readers and to celebrate I would like to offer anyone who purchases products from our website today a small gift which you will receive in your package as a thank you from us.

We now service customers from Russia, the Ukraine, Germany, U.S.A, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, England, France, Italy, Japan and China. Just to name a few! We love hearing from you, so drop us a line or post something to our Facebook wall.


Angelo Flaccavento In An LNP Velvet Mayfair Bow Tie

Italian GQ writer Angelo Flaccavento has been snapped wearing our velvet Mayfair bow tie in midnight blue at the Paris fashion shows. See more here

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

There Is A Sale Going On But You Are Not Part Of It... Just Yet

Right now there is a SALE going on at . You can't see it because it's for our newsletter subscribers. They clicked on our link and they receive the latest updates on the blog, on our designs and of course, our SALE codes. If you would like to be a part of our loyal customer base, click on the link and be sure that the next time we offer out our codes, you are there to receive them. Keep in contact with the blog though, because pretty soon we will let you in on the code.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Max Parker On The Business Of Luxury Board Games

Geoffrey Parker is an English leather goods manufacturer that specialises in backgammon, chess and poker chip sets amongst other unique items which they produce in a traditional English workroom full of charm and history. We were delighted to work with Max Parker, the son of Geoffrey, who now runs the business from the very same family estate from where it began. Today, it is one of the most celebrated, recognised and sought after manufacturers of board games worldwide. I first heard about the company a number of years ago when my brother sent me an email which said 'if you are stuck for things to buy me for Christmas, consider this'. It was so expensive that it was considered a running joke each Christmas since... Back then the Australian dollar against the GBP was roughly 3:1.  Today, however, with a more favourable exchange rate, we have managed to work with Max on two projects and he took time out of his day to answer a few questions regarding his work.

Max, can you please tell us a little about growing up in and around Saffron Walden and how your father grew a small business into one of the most highly regarded board game makers in the world? 

I was a late child for my parents, Geoffrey and Betty (my mother was 44 when I was born). At the time (1960), Geoffrey Parker, the business that is, was only 2 years old and our pig farm of Wessex Saddlebacks and Large Whites dominated the family’s daily lives. My mother had her “ballerinas” (chickens) whilst my father, with the help of a small team of locals, attended the growing numbers of pigs on our small holding.  So much of my days when becoming mobile were spent enjoying life on a farm - from camp building to even riding the pigs. In those days we were able to herd 40 sows right through the village when we needed extra grazing – something which is now hard to imagine with today’s busier country roads. Sadly when I was 5 my eldest sister was killed tragically in a road accident,  aged 21, and without the counselling that would be available today, my grief stricken parents probably found that coping with an energetic young boy was just too much -  so a year later I was packed off to boarding school in Cambridge. My education followed this course and I finished boarding south of Wimbish in the town of Bishop’s Stortford, around 30 miles north of London, when I was 17.  During this time there was a bout of foot and mouth disease in England and although our pigs did not get it; the time seemed right to concentrate on the growing business and the pigs were sold in 1968. I can recall helping the local bobby (policeman) direct traffic after arriving on his bicycle!  This was a sad day as I had always thought of myself becoming a farmer and had a great love for the pigs – the business workshop at this time was a source of leather holsters for my guns to play “Cowboys and Indians”. As I grew into my teens, many a school holiday would see me in the workshop, which was the main piggery converted and which now is my home,  helping to make our little books which were at least half of our production in those days. I can recall painstakingly hand painting the leather covers with enamel paints with guardsmen and Beefeaters for tourist shops and the flags of ocean liners. Having had enough of schooling and boarding, I yearned to get out into the adult world and when my father, recognising that I was not a happy bunny at my last school, offered me the choice of staying on and studying through to university or leaving school immediately to work in the family firm; it was an easy choice for me to make, but one that I had no idea I would still be enjoying 36 years later!

Geoffrey Parker started the business around 1960 with small sets of leather bound miniature books until he was approached by Alfred Dunhill to make chess board sets. 

Max, you spent a fair bit of time in the United States in Beverly Hills, can you tell us about this time and the store you ran and how it came to be that you moved back into the craft your father started? 

In the mid 1980’s I realised that we could not survive just selling to other businesses in the trade as the big department stores and luxury brands were squeezing small producers such as us and we needed to find an extra revenue stream. Our biggest market by far at this time was the United States Of America. Our export market represented 70% of our turnover and of this, 90% came from the USA.
Surprisingly, we had more customers in Manhattan than Mayfair. Every year I would travel the US for 3 months on the then TWA “Visit America” ticket which offered unlimited travel through the US for $150 if you don’t mind bouncing off their hub, St Louis, a few times a week… I would normally take in 30 to 40 cities on my tour, carrying back-breakingly  heavy sample bags of books and games up and down the top streets of each city and out to the University campus bookstores, art-galleries and museums.

So, it was at the start of one of these trips that I decided that the corporate market was where our salvation lied (the last thing we wanted to do was “upset” our trade customers and this avenue avoided any potential risk of this). The Fortune 500 list was my “bible” but after numerous calls, it become apparent that I had a mammoth task in front of me to break through the corporate structure of America’s biggest companies. Eventually I managed to get an appointment with Texaco, then # 7 on the list. My meeting  went well and our goods were greatly admired but it soon became apparent that their buying criteria of little or no advance warning of requirements, needing it custom branded and delivered within 2 days was just was not viable on intricate hand-made products such as ours, let alone shipping from the UK! So, rather despondently,  I left NYC heading north to start my westward trek taking in Boston, Chicago,  Minneapolis/St Paul , Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and finally down to LA. Despite my father having a strong connection with Los Angeles through his war time RAF training, he had always told me the “we can’t sell in California”. I could never understand his rationale with the studios, stars and lifestyle of the Californians. So, I set out to test this and found that I achieved a 100% success rate on every store I approached, much cheering me up from the gloomy prospects I had experienced while in my NYC hotel room earlier in the trip. It was while walking around Beverly Hills that I noticed “For Rent” signs in some shop windows and although having previously dismissed the thought of retailing after some research in London as impossible (In those days just to have a simple small shop in one of the luxury arcades around Piccadilly and Bond Street, you would need a minimum of one million pounds – a staggering amount back then).

However, in the “land of opportunity” I found that, believe it or not, it was cheaper to have a shop in the “Golden Triangle” a block off Rodeo Drive, than it was in my local market town of Saffron Walden! After a 3 month build with the help of a film set carpenter, we lined the shop in limed oak and filled it with hand-made items from Britain – obviously Geoffrey Parker’s products were the dominant feature, but we also had Barbour wax jackets, Hunter green wellies, HRH The Prince of Wales’ watercolours;  velvet slippers, hedgerow jams, jellies and mustards and even aged Stilton cheese. The store, if you had to describe it, would be a miniature amalgam of Asprey, Fortnum and Mason and Swaine Adeney Brigg; a little bit of Britain’s best dropped into sunny California. The store soon became a proving ground for new products;  giving us first hand feedback from clients which then allowed us to tweak products back in the workshops. Whilst away I was able to still run the workshops at WImbish via a new invention, the fax machine, which effectively gave me, all the UK’s night to come up with answers to queries so that by 8am when the workshops opened, they were raring to go. Luckily, my father was only semi-retired then and without his assistance this would have been difficult to achieve but the store soon became the Company’s No. 1 trade customer, world-wide. As your readers may recall, by the mid 1990’s a recession was looming and I watched with bated breath as it took almost a year to move from east to west across the United States. When I moved into Beverly Hills seven years previously there were twenty five stores in my street -  when I decided to go back to Britain to take over the family business, there were but five left on the strip.

The world is moving towards digital technology more and more, can you elaborate a little on the work you do in printing digitally to leather? Can you tell us a little about the printer and the kinds of inks that print to a natural hide? Do you forecast digital printing having a bigger role in your business over the coming years?

We have always embraced new technology in the company but with a firm conviction that hand craftwork will always take precedence. However, I now believe that a combination of the two working together can produce the most stunning results.
Like most technological advances, they are often pitched to be made available in the mainstream. Therefore, it is our prerogative at Geoffrey Parker to exstensively test, experiment and tweak whatever new technologies are made available on the market.

Now on our third leather printing machine, for example, we are looking forward to using flexible inks which will allow us to not only to make inlays of leathers but also to use these printed skins for case work to offer our individual and corporate clients very personalised pieces.

We have tanned special Dauphin calf skins in white to take the inks, but in addition, the past restrictions of leather thickness, which caused many a print head crash, will no longer be a problem and this will enable us to print on thick traditional leathers like English Bridle hide.

One of the first areas which will display the attributes of this print technology will be the creation of a themed range of chess sets from historical, literary and Asian influences.

Can you tell us a little about the types of leather you use, from dauphin to suede, and how you go about selecting leathers for board games? A lot of prestigious English leathers such as Connolly leathers for cars, are they available to your firm for use in things such as board games? 

Leather being our principle material of choice, we have spent a long time developing the perfect leather for our work. “Dauphin” refers to the fine printed grain design on the calf skins we work with – we have a thin cellulose finish applied within the tanning process to preserve the skins from tobacco and wine spillage but also to achieve a super-fast playing surface, which is essential for games like backgammon. Another essential feature of the skins is a firmness, which allows us to display our talent of inlaying which is particular to us (inlaying is the art of cutting and pasting different leathers into an intricate mosaic).

Unfortunately,  Connolly went out of business 10 years or so ago, but their style of automotive leathers are still used in all luxury and super-car marques –  for example we use the same  leathers used for the McLaren F1 and Lamborghinis and have developed a “carbon fibre” looking leather for a contemporary look. Currently we use the very same seating leathers to produce stunning backgammon boards, together with facia veneers for and from Bentley Motors. However, some of these leathers and traditional equestrian leathers, such as Bridle hide and other luxury furnishing hides, are not suitable playing surfaces nor inlay well for the games. So, these and other exotic leathers such as Alligator, Ostrich, Shagreen and Water Snake will often only be used for case work. Many of our linings are suede. Another point to note is that no faux leathers are ever used in our production.

Shagreen poker chips

Water Snake backgammon board by Geoffrey Parker London

Solid Gold Chess Piece Board

The world's most expensive backgammon board with alligator skin and diamond playing pieces. It is estimated at over 250 thousand pounds and was made for a private customer's jet.

Can you tell us a little about your workroom and the workroom environment at Geoffrey Parker? What time do you start work? Being leather board game makers, is it likely you play classical music when you work?

We have a very relaxed “family” feel to the workshop – many of the staff have been with us for years (we have two members of our team that are only a couple of years off 80). Most of the staff can reach us by foot or by bicycle and everyone has been trained from scratch by us.

I wish it was classical music in the background,  but depending on whether it is the teenage end of the staff age-group range that is working close to the radio; the music will echo that era. The working day will generally start at 9am but really we are around by 8 and finish about the same time in the evening when the last craftsman hangs up their tools. At busy periods like the run up to Christmas, we will work straight through weekends – the workshop is a happy and jolly place, with jokes often told and many cakes consumed!

It is claimed by a website that you made the most expensive backgammon board in the world, I have no doubt it is true, but can you tell us a little bit about that board?

We didn’t claim this, although I know one or two web-sites whom have claimed this on our behalf it seems. In fairness, there been bejewelled super expensive pieces (sadly designed as a glory piece only and not playable), so I guess you could say ours is the most expensive board that gets regularly played on! Built for a private jet customer, the case is bound in Alligator from the same tanner as used by Hermes. The locks and handle plates were cast in 18ct white gold and London hall marked whilst a huge thick 18ct gold engraving plaque was inlaid into the lid with the initials of the customer, along with the tail-fin call number of his jet which were set in Diamonds.

Because each Backgammon stone (or checker) was again solid gold (white and yellow) and each set with a 1ct Diamond, our fear was that these would rub against each other, so we created a series of suede slots which individually cocooned each stone safely away from hard.

The playing field was Alligator and intricately inlaid with Shagreen points. As the specially made stowage compartments effectively took up the whole front of the case, we made an additional matching casket to house the Alligator dice cups, lined in suede to deaden the noise; the 4 solid gold dice each set with 21 Diamonds. A special padded velvet throw was made, edged of course in Alligator to protect the private jet’s polished tables from being scratched by the Diamonds – of course….

What are some of the most prized works that you have undertaken in the last two years? 

We have been particularly proud to produce the cases for The Royal Mint for the George Medal, Britain’s highest civilian award for bravery.

The creation in English Bridle hide of the cases for Glenfidch’s £50,000 record breaking bottle of whiskey sold at Christies.

A special shoe box in 4 days for a half million dollar pair of shoes for a Parisian shoe maker who suddenly found that no one had thought about presenting the shoes.

A special drum and traditional lid-over body suitcase to display a special whiskey which was originally taken as a diplomatic gift by Queen Victoria and Edward VII’s court on their forays around “The Empire”.

And, lastly, to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee a 2 metre long facsimile of Buckingham Palace in leather and housing  full bar with British hand cut crystal decanters and stemware and a full Roulette set hidden under the “Union Jack” covered roof of the Palace.

If there was a key milestone that the company achieved whilst your father was at the helm, what would that be? In your own time as the head of the company, what were your milestones? Do you have a succession plan for the business for when you choose to retire? 

My father’s time in the Company can be divided I think neatly into 4:

1. His love of literature ensured that his range of “midget classics” of Shakespeare plays and poetry books are still sought by collectors even today;
2. Then his involvement in the historic and many still say, greatest match of time, the Chess World Championship between Russia’s Boris Spassky and the US’s Bobby Fischer, often known as the “Cold War Classic”.
3. And a few years later having our boards selected for the first recognised “world” Backgammon championship on board the QEII and in 1977 winning the Design Council award for his Silver Jubilee chess set.
 As far as my tenure; the design and introduction of game tables and compendia, especially our “Ultimate 8 game table” and the world’s most extensive game table ever built housing 33 games in all! The securing of licenses to produce luxury editions of such family classics as Monopoly®, Scrabble®, Cluedo® and Trivial Pursuit® and the winning of the British Interior Design award for “outstanding design” for our 25 Game cube, plus the retaining of our position at the top of the Backgammon world which sees our boards again being used for the World final in Monaco. My son, Elliot, has started to work alongside me, part time, and displays many talents in marketing and design but also understands the importance of keeping the business focussed on traditional hand craft and uncompromising design – making what the client wants not what we might want to sell them. Always products led, made with the best pairs of hands and the best materials available – there will always be folk who appreciate this ethos and are willing to pay that little bit more for an individual product made with both great skill but also  with a great passion to get it job done right!

Max Parker at his workstation. The second generation of Geoffrey Parker. 

Elliot Parker, the third generation of Parkers to work the business, stands in front of a portrait of his late grandfather, Geoffrey Parker.

Multiple games cubes, an invention of Geoffrey Parker

Two pieces commissioned by Le Noeud Papillon with Geoffrey Parker

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I Will Let You In On A Little Secret

In order to achieve results you can be proud of you need to seek guidance. It is phenomenal what you can learn from others, and so quickly, when it seemingly takes forever to do it on your own. On this particular scarf the canvas was pre-lined and all I needed to do was to colour the square by dye and brush. But it was not that simple to do, and a lot of the little tricks I learnt came from Sylvia Riley, a textiles artist based in Sydney. I will tell you more about her later, in the meantime, enjoy the colours which flow through to both sides of the silk. This is the world of dyes and the reason why digital printing will never come close to hand-painting and screen printing. What you are seeing here is the reverse or underside of the cloth, the brightness and colour is even more brilliant on the other side.

Within the realm of dyeing and painting on textiles there are many disciplines. Next week I will sit down to tell you more about them. Some of the arts I have learnt about are Shibori, Batik, Dye And Discharge, Tie Dye, Devore, Hand-Painting, Felting and Screen Printing. For those of you wanting to learn more about the Australian textiles design scene, you can log onto the ATASDA website (Australian Textiles And Surface Design Association).

Strangely, as I sipped my instant coffee whilst chatting with Sylvia, I was informed that contrary to my opinion that 'nobody works on silk here', I was indeed not correct. Sylvia explained to me that there was a strong movement in silk painting 20 years ago but that the movement mostly died off as hobby and craft people moved to other disciplines but that it still survives although it is scattered across the country and fragmented by disciplines. It seems such a shame that there should be so few people actively working in silk in Australia as the quality of finish I achieved in just a few spare hours one late afternoon this week completely outshines any of the printing finishes I have been able to source from Italy.

Hand Screen Printed Silk Twill Pocket Squares With Hand Roll Stitched Edges, All Made In Sydney Australia - A First I Believe

I believe this is a turning point for us. Yes, we still have some tweaking to do, but these pocket squares, made from a 16mm silk twill, are hand screen printed in Sydney and then they are hand roll-stitched in Sydney too. With the rear side just as vibrant as as the front side, we are pretty sure we have come up with a unique way to finish pocket squares that will still be as competitively priced as those from overseas but with a finish that is in many respects superior. The first series are polka dots on white and orange silk twill but over the coming weeks we will be releasing a variety of other designs, especially as we become more confident with our work.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Which Do you Prefer? The Zig Zag Now In Stock

Limited in stock and do be replaced by another colour scheme shortly, I would definitely jump on this one before it runs out. We received 2 metres in our first order of this limited edition LNP design which we created with one of our preferred mills in Como. It will most likely be one of the silks that goes first. We literally are releasing it tonight on the website. Good luck.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Graphic Design At It's Best

For Those Of You Who Want To Try This At Home

You may have heard me rattling on about the process of hand-painting onto silk over the last few posts and heard me carrying on like a pork chop because I was unable to achieve the exact results I'd set out to make. At this point I decided to use google and youtube to help. I stumbled upon this Jill Kennedy video which is a fantastic explanation on the process. When I was young it was all the rage for parents to take their kids to a plaster fun house to paint tacky little knick-knacks one of which I remember off by heart. It went: "If you tinkle when you sprinkle be a sweetie and wipe the seatie". Absolutely shocking in retrospect and I was forced to stare at it every morning on the job when I was a kid. I think when it comes time for me to have puppies I will definitely be having home silk painting workshops from my garage. Enjoy the video and consider buying Jill Kennedy's DVD because if you are interested in making your own silk designs, this is a wonderful place to start.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Don't Stop , Help Is On It's Way...

If there were to be a Rocky movie equivalent for a young man making a foray into fashion, I would cast Roberto Cavalli as 'Mickey' and I would have him say at this point, 'Get up Nick. Get Up! Because Roberto loves you!"

Sometimes the process wears you down. You may wonder what all these posts on me hand-painting pocket squares are about. Mostly I am experimenting so I can try to find a way to make a commercially viable process for our studio to make limited edition prints for local Australian artists to make available a simplified artwork of their design to be turned into a pocket square. At the same time, I was hoping to pick up a hobby for the weekend. Unfortunately with this art form there are a huge number of avenues one can take to achieve a varying result of the same thing. We must therefore soldier on. In the process of doing today's square I found out about one last final technique which I am going to employ which, apparently, stops dye from spreading and makes it paint on rather similarly to acrylic and it's not thickener.... 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Square A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

Experiment 7: Once more back into the foray. Using French dyes to hand-paint a pocket square. A more refined but more disciplined process than screen printing that requires a lot of attention.

The French Serti Technique for hand-painting silk is one that requires loads of patience. If you were to sweat whilst you painted, the droplet, should it fall onto the silk, is enough to ruin your work. The salt crystals in your sweat will cause a splotch that is difficult to remove. If you paint one brush stroke incorrectly, you can smudge a key part of the design and potentially this ruins the entire canvas. You must watch where your elbows are, you need to look to where you placed your hand, monitor how far your dye pots are from the canvas, and you must watch the dyes spread evenly to ensure they don't run over your gutta lines. Of course, I love it, so I would not tell you not to try it yourself, I would just suggest that you don't set yourself a timeline for results, because you will be bitterly disappointed. Oh, and one last thing, thickening the dyes into a paint is not advantageous so far as I can tell, so there really is no cheating if you want to get bright results. This one is for sale. Experiment 7, $50.00 from

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

When Progress Comes Too Slowly

I am almost there. Soon I will be able to get a handle on this delicate art form. In the meantime, I will continue to soldier on through these experiments. And, as Oppenheimer once told me 'it is the duty of every wealthy man to give a job to the artisan', so I will put them on the website and see if I have your support.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Monte's Man Bag

This little silk pouch serves many purposes. It is a travel companion to store your bow tie and cufflinks when you head off for a weekend wedding. It is a place to store your mobile phone before you throw it into the hellish pit your girlfriend or wife calls her handbag. It is somewhere to put your wallet and keys. Something to keep things from getting lost. Made from the most prestigious jacquard woven silk that comes from Como in Italy, lined with a contrasting orange silk twill and finished with hand braided orange cord made from the finest yarns. All this magical stuff inside a small versatile 17 x 9cm pouch and delivered to you for only $45AUD. 
Whilst stocks last.

Nobody Does It Better, Makes Me Feel Sad For The Rest....

When Carly Simon sang the words for the song in the film 'The Spy Who Loved Me' she was referring, I gather, to the sexual expertise of Roger Moore as James Bond. When it comes to silk, Hermès does a similar job with their screen printed pocket squares. Their visual pleasure is orgiastic on the eyeballs. Quite often I would merely like to pull one out of my breast pocket and wave it amongst the crowd like a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket. 'Yes, yes, I have it here, look, come see!' If you were ever to want your own they are worth every penny. I think I paid $230.00 AUD a piece for mine, but I never once consider myself as having over-paid. The only, tiny, eenny weeny little complaint I might have is that the inks do not bleed through far enough to the other side. But when you have this many coloured inks or dyes in a screen print, you ought to be satisfied that they even get one side right. Bravo Hermès! Buy them here

Front side
Rear side

Front side
Rear side

In Case You Are Slow On The Uptake

If you are inclined to read blogs but you don't do Facebook then you are kind of missing out. This week we have had a terrific response to our Facebook competition to win one of our limited edition umbrellas which you can see by scrolling down below. It was mere a matter of logging onto our Facebook page and pasting in your favourite quote from an author or public figure on bows or ties. Our Facebook page is at


Here are some of the quotes we had sent in:

From Ian Henderson:

Sir Percy Blakeney (on the composition of his poem about the Scarlet Pimpernel) "Would you believe me, I've just written a masterpiece. ... All about this mysterious Pimpernel fellow. How it came to me Heaven only knows, because it was the busiest moment of the day. Damn me, I was tying my cravat."

From Ted Hammer, USA

 Bow ties are tattoos for conservatives. ...

From Gillian Myerberg Polsky, USA

That is why, no matter how desperate the predicament is, I am always very much in earnest about clutching my cane, straightening my derby hat and fixing my tie, even though I have just landed on my head.
Charlie Chaplin

From Jimmy Damgaard Poulsen

Most men who wears bow ties, wears them, because most men don´t. - I don´t know who said it, but it´s true!

From Mac Broderick, USA

"As I climbed up the narrow path leading to Elizabeth Spring I passed a crowd of men, both civilians and military, who, as I discovered later, form a class in itself among those who wait for the movement of the waters. They drink, but not water, go out but little, make love for amusement in a half-hearted way--they gamble and complain of boredom. They are dandies. They assume affected poses as they dip their wickered glasses into the sulfur water. The civilians show off pale-blue neckties, and the army men, ruffs showing above their collars. They express a deep disdain for provincial society and sigh at the thought of the aristocratic drawing rooms of the capital, which don't accept them." - Pechorin's journal, from Lermontov's "A Hero of Our Time"

From Alan Mercer, UK

'A Bow Tie is a statement! almost an act of defiance'.
Rick Kaplan an American TV Producer/News Anchorman.

From Ray Frensham, London, England

"Wearing a bow tie is a way of expressing an Aggressive lack of concern for what Other people think."

Monday, March 4, 2013

Fresh Stock For Spring... Or Autumn, Depends On Your Location - Fresh stock has now arrived

Hello, we've just finished work on a few new models. The second from the right, the navy velvet and midnight blue satin, we are very low on already. We did not have a lot of silk/cotton velvet to start with. My advice is to jump on these before they run out as we will probably make only 10 of these out of the stock of velvet we have left. Good shopping!!!

Pablo Picasso And The Role Of The Renegade Bow Tie Wearer

I have now read a lot passages on bows, ties, men's sartorial elegance and so on and one thread which keeps popping up is that men who achieved something significant in their lives, be it artistically, politically, economically, technologically.... The thread is that they played at some point with their neckwear. Be it an ascot, a foulard, a bow tie or even a standard tie, they did something which set themselves apart and yet it would often fall within the parameters of 'sartorial elegance' and was seldom vulgar. These men were truly renegades and yet held a great respect for tradition at the same time. They seem to live harmoniously with opposing ideas in their hearts, a natural sense of understanding the conflict that resides in the hearts of human beings. It gives me great pleasure to think that one day I might supply one of the heroes of our time with a tie or bow tie. God willing.

An Excerpt From Rob Shields : A Tale Of Three Louis: Ambiguity, Masculinity And The Bow Tie

"But in effect, the bow tie acts as a conduit of semiotic flows; it has a function similar to a lightning rod or conductor, capturing the always approximate arrangement of actants of active elements such as the pose of the body, its posture and comportment, the surrounding context, the other elements worn and the style of the bow, into an assemblage that glosses as one ‘meaning’."

Portrait of Ambroise Vollard 
1899Musee du Petit Palais, Paris; Venturi 696 

And here are some more wonderful excerpts from this essay.

"The bow tie marks a middle class of men who have higher cultural and social status, above and beyond their often low economic status. They are ‘maestros’, the shamans of the ‘Western’ culture whose performative competence in orchestrating meanings of the bow tie is indicative of their competence in other cultural performances."

"In opposition to many proletarian radicals’ investment in self-effacing everyday garb of collectivism, the bow tie indicates the self-interest and power of the ‘maestro’. Power, cultural as much as economic – is not in this case delegated but ‘held’ and concentrated – much as a sorcerer might ‘hold’ a magical spell before it is cast."

"The bow tie is as much the costume of the professional who wishes to be taken seriously and stand out, as the ‘uniform’ of the comedian. Or, misunderstandings can be the source of the unexpected meanings, as the context in which the wearer sports a bow tie moderates its meaning and the ‘image’ of the wearer (David 1992)."

"The ambiguous social status of the bow tied male (servant of patron?) makes the meanting of the bow tie inherently reversible. It can this be called a liminal signifier, as if on a threshold (limen) turned, Janus-like, into both spaces. It is, in Victor Turner’s phrase ‘betwixt and between’ (1979)."

RIP James Strong

One of the great advocates of the bow tie, Mr James Strong, has died today from complications resulting from surgery. He was 68 years old. Very sad news.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Three New Bows Just Released - Velvet/Satin And Repps

Hugo, half silk cotton velvet and half navy blue satin silk - tie your own, can be pre-tied -

From the same mill which produced Carlo Riva cotton comes this sublime lime and baby blue repps silk cut on the horizontal.