The Laddering Technique takes an initial (specific) idea, and then forms ladder-rungs of connections that lead off into different aspects of this initial idea. Laddering is a way of establishing a diverse framework from which general creative ideas can be imagined: and from these general ideas points-of-departure for a creative work can be written.

Laddering can be viewed as the opposite of the Chains creative technique.

The Chains creative technique identifies chains of creative ideas that are useful in the production of a creative work because they connect back to the specific (starting) idea on which creative work is based.

Laddering, in contrast, starts with the specific ideas being analysed and then forms ladder rungs of connecting ideas that ladder (climb away) from the specific idea.

The end result is a framework of themes, concepts and ideas that ladder from the chosen starting point. This framework amounts to a map of a creative landscape that your work could cover.

Laddering could be seen as a Cultivation Technique, helping to build creative work from the Specific Idea foundation.

Laddering is listed in this article as a Mixology Technique as it is highly effective when used to generate general creative ideas, each step of each separate ladder being a creative provocation in its own right.

How does Laddering work?

The Specific (the specific ideas) is the foundation of a creative project – i.e. the essential subject matter on which your artistic work is constructed.

The General (the general ideas) is that material you develop through the application of different creative techniques to the chosen specific ideas. The General is the central framework of any creative work.

In the Laddering Technique ladders of general ideas – ideas connected by a common theme – are placed against the specific idea(s) you choose to start from.

A ladder is made up of a line of rungs – where each rung is a connected idea – and where each rung represents a progression along a chosen theme.

Illustration: Laddering

In the following illustration the Laddering Technique is used to develop a framework of themes, concepts and ideas that ‘ladders-out’ from the chosen subject matter (i.e. chosen specific ideas).

The Specific Ideas

In this Illustration of the Laddering Technique the Specific Ideas are taken from The Tailor novella.

Phrases defining the specific idea: –

  1. Establishing the systems needed to evaluate the ‘Fashion through Alteration’ Concept
  2. The building of a space designed for the purpose
  3. The difficulties that will arise with a new business concept.

The General Ideas

The following ladders – consisting of climbing ladder rungs that define a framework of themes, concepts and ideas are built – outwards and upwards – from the specific ideas listed above.

Passages Derived from Laddering

The following are examples of passages from The Tailor that were facilitated with the Laddering Technique and were derived from the concepts listed in the above ladder rungs.

There is an acceptance that ‘things that look as they should, most probably will function as they should.’  This rule is as applicable to the design of any garment, as it is to the feeling of a tailor’s consulting room.  Anjali’s cluttered consulting room, like any good garment, was designed to an idea, but soon wore into an exact and comfortable fit. 

It was no surprise to either of the women running ‘Threads of Arrow Street’ that, as in life so in fashion, everything is a struggle; and what works today would not have worked yesterday and could never have worked tomorrow.  The muddled and muddy river of circumstance flows freely and never freezes, and all you can do is pick your moment and leap into the dark.  

Anjali grasped quickly that her early customers must be comfortable with the need to get to the bottom of things with haste.  The client required an interest in – and preferably a love of – clothing as well as at least some understanding of a garment’s intrinsic role in how others see us.  This much she had identified during the sleepless nights that are the sure bedfellows of a tailor pondering a ‘possible opportunity, but potential distraction.’ 

The ‘alterations consulting room’ consumed a large measure of coffee and fashionable biscuits but delivered little beyond the snaring of some extra alteration work, for which the profit was so thin it was see-through.  The theory of ‘fashion through progressive alteration’ seemed to be an illusion and perhaps even a delusion. There were soon tensions twisting between the two business partners, which threatened to tear open the seams of ‘Threads of Arrow Street.’ 

Essential Glanside

Essential Glanside is a detailed process that can help manage the development of original artwork and written work through the use of Glanside Creative Techniques.

Return to Glanside Simple Creative Techniques Menu