Way way back, many centuries ago……..
Like many makers, having a gifted knitter and seamstress for a Mum and an engineering minded Dad made making commonplace in my life from an early age.
A throw-away comment from my secondary school Art teacher, Juliet Caithness, about my natural flair for textiles gave my love of fibre art a little shove in the right direction, and first throwing a shuttle on loom at Cumbria College of Art, over 20 years ago, was a pivotal moment.
I really felt like I’d arrived at the place I was meant to be and had a strong sense then that weaving would be part of my life, always.
Things got off to a promising start when I was awarded the Floor Covering Design Award at New Designers in London after graduating. However, the part-time job I took in the costume department on Joseph & his Technicolour Dreamcoat, to support my business in the early days turned into a 15 year career. I worked my way up through the ranks to become a wardrobe mistress in London’s west-end, toured the UK with shows such as Miss Saigon, amongst others (with a loom in the back of my car, of course) and ended up working briefly in Television. (If you’re reading this, wondering when you’ll ever get your dream business started then just don’t give up the idea…it does happen!)
During this alternate career I continued to weave and with the benefit of hindsight, I’m thankful for these years of weaving without the considerations of a marketplace for the designs. I’m convinced now, that without this experience I wouldn’t have the distinctive style that my work is recognised for.
I’d never let go of the plan to weave for a living and in my mid 30’s I unwittingly, created the opportunity to realise this dream.
Building my practice up gradually, things really started to come together when I was selected for the Craft Councils Hothouse programme in 2014. I still think I achieved more in this 6 months than I would have in 6 years if left to my own devices!
I’ve followed this with the practical business support from The Design Trust amongst others, and in 3 years have gone from exhibiting in my front room to showcasing my handwoven designs at Decorex International and at CAA in London.
Creatively, I’m enjoying the cycle of niche handwoven rugs, to bespoke upholstery, back to rugs.
After 20 years I can safely say I’m addicted to Krokbragd, the Scandinavian 3 shaft rug weaving technique I continue to focus on in many of my rugs and furnishings, and look forward to sharing in detail many of the aspects of my practice in these blog posts.