Today's Meet the Maker interview comes from London based textile designer - Sally Weatherill. We are delighted to have Sally's wonderful woven pieces in our Made in Britain shop this year. Here's a little interview she wrote for us about her creative processes.
Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work?
My name is Sally Weatherill and I’m a textile designer specializing in hand woven and jacquard woven fabrics for scarves, ties, cushions, handbags and my lavender-filled creatures. My work reflects my obsession with colour, texture and pattern.
Apart from creating things what else do you do?
I seem to be busy doing something all the time – and most things seem to involve creating. My husband says I don’t know how to relax, which may be true! I garden, cook, do a bit of DIY. I also like playing tennis, going on walks and fossil hunting with the children and reading (although this always seems to end up bottom of the list!)
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
Looking back, it seems as though it ought to have been obvious that I was destined to be a designer-maker. I have always loved colour and throughout my childhood and teenage years I was always making things – clothes peg dolls, gingerbread houses, salt dough biscuits, knitted scarves for my teddies, doll’s house furniture...and I hoarded anything that came in sets of different colours – jumbo packs of felt tips, squares of origami paper, even tubes of smarties. In spite of this, it took me a long time to work out what I wanted to do.
I had a rigorous academic education which left little room for artistic pursuits – although I did study piano. At school I wanted to be both a novelist and an archaeologist, but was seduced by art history half way through my freshman year at University. After completing a BA in Art History at Brown University (Providence RI), I worked in an art gallery and then a graphic design firm, taking evening classes in anything art-related; I tried metal smithing, ceramics, painting, drawing and finally textiles. I then went back to college to study textiles properly at the California College of the Arts in Oakland, CA.
What do you love most about working in your chosen discipline?
I love the yarns themselves; if I had more space I would fill it from top to bottom with cones of different colours and textures. I often begin a new project by surrounding myself with cones of yarn (literally, I sit on the floor and put the cones all around me!) and let my imagination dream up combinations of colour, texture and pattern.
|Inspiration - Rust|
Where does your inspiration come from?
From everything and everywhere! I try to carry a camera with me at all times as interesting patterns, texture and colour are found everywhere – scaffolding covering a building, an old church door, a graffitied wall. My work is also very influenced by technique and experimentation but is underpinned by my love and knowledge of modern art. I love trying new yarns and new weaves and I sometimes feel as though I am half scientist, half artist. I am addicted to the thrill you get when a piece of fabric comes off the loom and is washed for the first time – you never know exactly what you're going to get.
Describe your studio or workspace?
I work from home in a light-filled room. It is a bit over stuffed with yarns, fabrics, my loom, books, sewing machine, over locker, jars of buttons; I struggle to keep it from looking too much like a storeroom, but the children love it.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
How would you describe your creative process?
My creative process when designing a new weave or scarf is different to that when designing the lavender-filled animals. To make the lavender animals I begin with a sketch. I then make a pattern that will be used to cut out the creature from the woven fabric. Next I design the fabric to fit the pattern, using colours and patterns that suit the creature. Then I weave the fabric which after a finishing process is finally ready to be sewn into the finished creature! It is a long process and definitely a labour of love. When working on a new scarf or weave design, I work much more experimentally. I usually only have a vague idea about where I am headed before I begin. I thread the the loom using a threading pattern I haven’t tried before and get to work experimenting with different weaves, yarns and colours. One idea leads on to the next and at the end of a week or two I’ll have an idea for a new collection.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
It’s difficult to choose just one! I have lots of lovely felt lavender bags made for me by my children and I love them all. I also have a little knitted dachshund that my grandmother made for me when I was a child. I used to wrap it up in a blanket and pretend it was my ‘baby’. I’m also very attached to a series of appliquéd textiles that my mother made to cover a screen that went alongside my cot when I was a baby; I now use them as hangings in my house.
What do you when you are stuck in a creative rut?
It doesn’t usually happen, but when it does I find cleaning my work space can help!!
Where would you like to be in ten years?
I’d like to be doing similar things to now but on a larger scale; I’d like to have more commission work and employ someone to do the things I hate (like accounting!!).
Thank you Sally! A perfectly lovely interview, such inspiring words. We adore your little creatures and have a fondness for your little foxes here in Made in Bristol offices.
You can find Sally's wonderful creations in our Made in Britain shop.
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