When I purchased my first loom in 1983 and started LOOMINUS HANDWOVENS, I never would have imagined that I’d still be designing after thirty years, still challenged by this mysterious, fluctuating world of textile art. The evolution and refinement of my work is evident, when I review my first rough pieces off the loom and see where these years of designing have carried me.
I’ve taken many roads over the years: fine craft shows, not so fine craft shows, studio sales, retail, wholesale, trade shows, women’s wearable art, men’s luxury accessories, children and Home collections. The business of selling a finely crafted handmade scarf or jacket has itself become a creative challenge. Fortunately, I appreciate the art of merging business with art and fashion. It’s difficult and, more often than not, has gotten in my way of concentrating solely on reaching and stretching to my creative limits within my chosen medium of weaving. And that’s probably why the challenging aspect of LOOMINUS is still alive today!
Living in the thriving, artistic, complex community of Woodstock, New York in the beautiful Hudson Valley, supports artistic striving and reflection. Nature surrounds me, the lush mountains, clear skies, streams, moss, waterfalls, right in my backyard. Very earthy, and yet New York City is just two hours away – the perfect balance of art and fashion. I so appreciate the great designers in the fashion world and try to keep a hand on the pulse, and an eye on the freshness of the young culture. And yet, the rhythm and beauty of nature, repetitions, in color and form, are my soul’s food and inspiration. Colors rule! Colors move the soul, and for me, have no boundaries, no definitions, transcend discussion. Colors work their magic!
After weaving with rayon chenille from the beginning of my career, and knowing its intrinsic qualities so well, it became exciting to see how far I could stretch its nature. I experimented with dimension and surface by implementing different yarn weights and various twill weaves, creating double-faced fabrics and complex plaids. To add texture and more surface interest and change, I explored the merging of chenille with other luxury fibers – to take chenille as far as possible. To expand its everyday comforting identity , I introduced cashmere, from Scotland, to chenille and wove them together into the fabric…animal and plant natures intermingled. I also added a sheared beaver yarn for luxury and additional softness, as well as the playfulness of elastic yarns for something new … see what happens! And yet, the final outcome must always reflect simplicity, elegance and timelessness.
After so many years, one might think that it would be difficult to create something that looks new and fresh, but somehow, the endless possibilities still amaze me! I can still sit quietly with 150 colored bobbins in front of me and find a combination or rhythmic sequence that feels innovative and touches a new place within me. My Gemini nature must be at work here, as my palettes range from extremely neutral, black and creams can occupy me indefinitely, as well as tropical color play that I didn’t even think I had in me! Just returning from a trip to Kauai, I am filled with reds from the earth, vibrant greens from the jungle, turquoise from the sea, blue azure skies, yellow and oranges from the flowers and the sunsets.
And every time I design a new scarf or fabric that will become a jacket, it still starts with a single strand of yarn – building off a foundation of warp threads, visualizing the interplay of the weft, considering the color dynamics that are evolving, the weave structure, the finishing process, the final hand of the textile. That I am able to conjure up something out of nothing, this tangible reality, with my own hands, as it has been done for thousands of years in all cultures, still fascinates me!
Each scarf becomes its own unique canvas with a name of its own, a personality. I know them well. Each creation becomes a good friend. Designing is very intimate…
Writing about creativity and inspiration is very challenging because of this intimacy, and I have felt over the last few years that any inspiration would be hard to come by. Life’s tragedies are so draining and as we get older, there are so many responsibilities that distract and absorb our attention. Creativity sometimes seems to be at the bottom of the list. But I have learned the most amazing things about creativity, that I had taken for granted in the past.
When I am quiet, empty and in stillness, the process of creativity comes of itself. It bubbles up from a well deep inside, rising to the surface, most of the time, if I am willing and patient. For me, this emptiness includes the absence of chaos, the slate needs to be clean, chores done, bills paid, dishes washed, list cleared, calls returned. I can sit in my studio, or at the stream. If I create a space of emptiness, I am usually rewarded with something to work with – concept, color, texture, interplay of designs, jacket detail, a vision to work with…it rises to the surface, magic.
When I was first introduced to weaving in the early 80’s, I was drawn to the meditative quality of the experience –rhythm, repetition, manifestation, creating something out of nothing, line by line. I am still awed by the physicality of the weaving process, merging with the mysterious input of creativity, the rational mathematical considerations, and the infinite possibilities of color and design.
My inspiration comes in many ways, through history and culture, through nature, through experience, by listening and being sensitive to my customers, and more and more, through sharing and being inspired by my peers…I am most grateful for this opportunity. Moving forward, still reaching, staying mindful of today’s sense of fine craftsmanship, fashion, business, and most importantly, our global family and ecology.