Growing up in a creative family where I was surrounded by paints, clay, fabric and music, I was always encouraged and given the freedom to explore my creative process. My mother taught me to sew, knit and spin from an early age, and when I discovered weaving I knew this was how I wanted to apply my passion for colour and textiles.
I was fortunate to have been tutored by Ailsa Trainor, her wonderful mentorship further ignited my love for colour and textiles. The possibilities that weaving allows me to explore and the contemporary textiles that result from the process continues to fuel my passion. By dyeing most of my own yarns I’m able to accomplish my aim at creating unique pieces that sing with a richness and depth of colour that isn’t available commercially.
Having woven professionally for over 20 years, I now work full time from my studio. My studio and gallery were built in 1868, are located on the main street in the historic goldmining town of Lawrence New Zealand, and are open to the public. On most days I can be found working at one of my looms, or chatting with visitors both local and from around the world, who have come by to see what new pieces I might be creating or have available for purchase.
My approach to weaving is quite unusual in that it’s all very instinctive; I never plan what I’m going to do. I blend sometimes as many as 15 random colourways and always do this by eye, because I know intuitively what looks right. For special exhibition pieces the approach is slightly different. With colours already in mind, I establish the name of the piece first, then create the design to follow that.
While the details of the manual process of weaving can be quite complicated, I can offer a basic overview of the process:
Firstly I choose my yarns. Quite often I hand dye them to obtain the exact hues that I want to use. Next comes making the warp, which is the longways threads on the loom. This keeps my threads in order when I start to wind them onto the loom.
The yarn is then individually threaded through the eye of the heddle, and sleyed through the reed which ensures the threads are evenly spaced, and finally tied onto the front beam. At this point I can start the actual weaving process.
Once I have finished a piece, sometimes I’ll dye it again, hand wash it and then it’s ready for purchase. All the hand-dyed pieces I weave are unique, no two are ever the same.