Jessica Dance’s hand-knitted creations are full of joy

The textile artist started off working in set design and paper craft before finding her calling in wool. She discusses why taking a risk and making the switch paid off, and how traditional stereotypes around craft are changing for the better

Historically, knitting was largely dismissed as a ‘feminine’ craft reserved for bored housewives with too much time on their hands. But just as we’ve seen with the return of vinyl and the artisan food and drink boom in recent years, craft-based hobbies like knitting have also had a big resurgence.

In the UK alone, there are countless knitting groups frequented by people from a range of ages and background, while creatives that put wool at the heart of their craft have been making more of a name for themselves. One such creative is prop maker and textile artist Jessica Dance, who has become known for her charming woollen designs that simultaneously eschew gender stereotypes.

“I always aim for my work to be graphical, with a playful edge,” says Dance. “I try to take gender out of the equation … I like to think its neither feminine or masculine.” So far, her approach has led to commissions from Stylist magazine to reimagine the season’s biggest ‘it’ bags in woollen form and Dorset Cereals to create 18 woodland creatures for the brand’s first TV commercial, as well as a collaboration with illustrator Jon Burgerman, where she created woollen sculpture versions of his comical food-inspired characters.

Dance wasn’t always destined to work with wool, however. She started out studying fashion at Bournemouth Arts Institute, before quickly realising that it wasn’t really what she wanted to do. Stumbling across the work of photographer Tim Walker and set designer Shona Heath, she made the decision to focus less on garment design and more on creating sets for fashion shoots.

GRAPHIC DESIGNER

London, EC3R

SENIOR DESIGNER

Guildford, Surrey