My first encounter with neckties was with my father, who generally wore khakis for his work, but would dress in a suit and tie for Rotary or fancy dinners. Always at a loss on what to get him for Father’s Day, Christmas or his birthday, I resorted to neckties. He appeared to like him as he wore them and I don’t think it was in order please me. I think he really loved my tie selections.
Later on, his girlfriend had all of his ties made into a quilt, a true time capsule as you can see what was in style each year for decades. Wide width, garish prints, stripes and polka dots. A tie could be subdued and subtle or an outlandish statement. Neckties added a wild splash of color in an otherwise drab suit. I can picture some of my father’s ties. One tie of my father’s in particular that I remember had a leaf pattern on it. Various brown and green leaves on a dark brown color field. On the background, some of the leaves were serrated, some not. Some leaves with a central vein, some not. Most of my father’s ties were polyester as I didn’t know much about silk as those ties were way beyond my budget.
I love that polyester is referred to as virgin polyester or international polyester. You never know about polyester. As I got older, I ceased giving my father ties, but they always remained in the back of my mind, and I appreciated all the colors, patterns, and textures—they are absolutely beautiful.
My love of neckties has grown over time and I have made discoveries of the many uses of neckties beyond their conventional function in my art practice. When I deconstruct a tie, especially a woven one, I have discovered the back of the tie is as beautiful as the front—the colors change. The interfacing in the tie can be different and each tie label is a work of art unique in itself.
As an art teacher at St. Joseph’s School in Fort Collins, Colorado, I was always getting odd donations with the remark, “I thought you might be able to use this for your art classes.” When I couldn’t think of an immediate use, I just kept the items. Some of those donations are still with me today, and I am just waiting for inspiration on how to use them.
I had a parent drop off a boxes full of neckties and I was instantly intrigued by the kaleidoscope of colors, patterns and shapes—especially the wide end of the tie and how ties narrowed—they looked like deflated snakes.