I am a Scottish hand weaver creating colourful, complex designs with a connection to place. I work with natural fibres and explore the possibilities of a heritage craft skill.
|After studying for a degree in Design for Textiles at university in Scotland and Finland, I launched my woven textile practice in 2016. My designs have gone on to become known for colour, complex woven design and a connection to place. I draw inspiration from ever-changing seascapes and landscapes from locations around the world. I work with traceable and sustainable natural fibres, locally sourced from the landscapes I weave. I create bespoke, exciting pieces which encourage the audience to question the making process and prompt them to explore the craft techniques involved by investigating the relationship between the physical craft making process and finished piece. My handwoven work has developed dramatically in the seven years since I launched my practice. Starting as beautiful but functional designs I quickly moved on to creating colourful wall hangings with complex repeat patterns through to my current practice where I create unique large-scale artworks and ambitious private commissions. I blend a self-taught heritage tapestry weaving style with contemporary woven design, creating an image within an image with complex structures echoing through the fabric seascapes.
What craft do you work with?
|I have been a handweaver professionally for around seven years now. I studied for a degree in Design For Textiles at university in both Scotland and Finland graduating in 2014. I worked in a few different textile jobs before deciding to buy a loom and set up Arra Textiles in 2016. My favourite technique is to combine colour and complex weave structures to create interesting and new fabric designs.
What inspires you to work with this craft?
|I love the technicalities of weaving. It’s a craft which combines mathematics with creativity, two seemingly opposite factors. I love to create work which is quietly complex. Pieces which seem simple from a distance but become more complex the closer they are viewed. Hand weaving is a heritage craft skill which has existed for approximately 12,000 years. It’s a technique which, in its most basic form, can transform a single thread into useable cloth and can be as simple or complex as you need it to be. I always work with traceable and sustainable natural fibres, mostly varieties of wool. My material choice usually depends on what the final piece will be, functional designs need to be more hardwearing but decorative designs can be woven in fine, delicate fibres.
How do you start your creative process?
|I usually work backwards when I start a new project. I start with an idea of what I want to create then work out the technical details like sizes, yarn type and loom set up details right back to sourcing yarns. I find choosing the yarn shades to be the most enjoyable part. Quite often, projects will come with a set theme and working out the best colours to fit with the theme can be an interesting challenge. The most difficult part is usually making myself stop coming up with possible new ideas and start weaving! There are endless directions handwoven designs can go in and it can be tricky to narrow it down to just one.
How would you best describe your workspace and what tools could you not do without?
|I currently work from a studio in my home. It has cones of brightly coloured yarn tucked away in every space possible! It’s a quiet, peaceful space with large windows which look out onto the garden and allow the studio space to be bright year round. My loom is the most important tool I have. It’s a 32 shaft floor loom with a 60 inch weaving width. It allows me to weave ambitious designs which would be impossible to make on a smaller, more basic loom.
Are there new techniques you would like to try?
|I would love to experiment more with plant dyed yarns, it’s a technique which fascinates me. I’ve used plant dyes in one project before when I dyed the majority of the yarn used myself with a variety of locally foraged plants including nettles, gorse and alder cones from the local riverbank. With the process lasting almost two years, I had multiple seasons of plants to choose from and was able to create a fairly large colour pallet to work with. It was a process which was completely new to me but fascinating to experiment with. I found the variety of colours which could be produced from plants found on my doorstep to be endlessly fascinating, I don’t think I could tire of trying new combinations and would love to try to use in more in the future.
What have you learnt or the best advice you have received that you would like to share with fellow crafters?
|I think the most important thing I’ve learned is to be adaptable and open to change. My practice looks very different now than it did when I first started. I began with a very set idea of what I wanted to create, but over time, have realised that it’s ok to change direction and go against the grain. I’d love to collaborate with a craft-maker who creates work which is very different to my own. Textiles are soft and tactile so collaborating with a maker who uses materials which are the complete opposite would be an interesting challenge. I hope one day to create large scale woven artworks and installations for both private and public spaces. I want to have the freedom to explore with materials and make work which is new and unexpected.
Media & Contact
Company: Arra Textiles
Facebook: Arra Textiles
|Profile picture and Weaving image – Aboyne Photograohics
All other images – Lucy MacDonald
Scotland, United Kingdom
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