Cally Booker

I'm a handweaver with a strong commitment to sustainable making. My work combines natural materials, the slow processes of making by hand, data and digital design tools. I enjoy working experimentally and in collaboration.


Artist Statement

Weaving is a craft that can be meticulously planned or improvised at the loom and a combination of these approaches appeals to the different parts of my nature. I’m based on the east coast of Scotland and am drawn to places at the edge, where land and water meet. In my work I explores lines and boundaries, positive and negative, randomness and rhythm, using multi-layered structures which hide and reveal. I do this by combining mark-making with algorithms, and digital design tools with the slow processes of hand-dyeing and hand-weaving. Through experimentation with data and digital tools, I aim to use weave both to tell stories and to celebrate the structure of the cloth itself.

What craft do you work with? 

I’m first and foremost a handweaver. Everything else that I do, from drawing to dyeing, I do in order to support my work at the loom.

What inspires you to work with this craft? 

When I started weaving I was not expecting to like it much, but as soon as I sat down to thread a loom I was captivated by the process. I’m conscious of the long history of handweaving, and am in awe of the generations of weavers who developed the tools and approaches which I can now pick up and work with. Here and now, I am passionate about the value of craft-making, both for its benefits to wellbeing and for the way in which making things by hand can deepen our appreciation of the material world. I also have a strong geeky streak, which is expressed in my use of complex weave structures and my use of data as a rich source of design inspiration.

How do you start your creative process?

The spark of inspiration could be anything, from a conversation to a material to a visual impression. But I generally get my best ideas about weaving while I am weaving, and when I am away from the loom for too long I find it difficult to focus.One of the things that appeals to me about weaving is the balance between developing and planning an idea off the loom and the improvisation and serendipity that can happen at the loom. I love to plan, and I love to improvise, and weaving allows me space for both.

How would you best describe your workspace and what tools could you not do without?

My studio is on the top floor of a converted jute mill, looking out over Dundee and the Firth of Tay. The thing I love most about this space is the light. I couldn’t manage without my loom, of course, but I would really struggle without those windows too! My workhorse loom is quite small. It’s a 16-shaft mechanical dobby with a 70 cm weaving width, and the whole thing would fit inside a 1.2 metre cube. I’ve been weaving on this loom for several years now, and it has definitely contributed to the way I think about process and weave structure. The loom and the weaver have to collaborate.

Are there new techniques you would like to try?

Weaving encompasses such a broad range of techniques that there is always more to learn. I’ve recently started working on a computer dobby loom, which is a completely different experience from the mechanical dobby. It opens up new possibilities, but also requires a very different approach, and I am still finding out how I want to use it.

What have you learnt or the best advice you have received that you would like to share with fellow crafters?

I really enjoy collaborating with makers in other crafts. When I am working on my own I usually have quite a strong vision of what I am aiming for, but when I go into a collaboration I have learned to hold my own ideas very lightly. It’s exciting to explore possibilities that I would not have dreamt of by myself.

Media & Contact


Freelancing: Cally Booker








Photography credit

Cally Booker, Dundee, Scotland

Stuart Booker, Dundee, Scotland



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