For this month’s Inspiration post, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it’s like to have a creative practice. Whether you are a weaver, painter, ceramicist, or designer, there is always a process to how we make things. Finding the time and energy outside of work can be challenging and I am constantly inspired by people who are able to motivate themselves. For my August Inspiration, I am excited to highlight Karen, our operations + production assistant. Below, I asked her a couple questions about her weaving practice and where she finds inspiration:
When did you first learn how to weave?
I learned how to weave when I was a senior in college. I was in the Integrated Studio Arts program at the College of Design at Iowa State University. My focus was in textile and fiber art, but the weaving classes hadn’t been in demand, so I had to really persuade my professor to teach weaving again. Luckily, enough other students agreed to take the class and we learned to weave cloth on four harness Leclerc Dorothy Table Looms. After that first semester, I was hooked and did an independent study to finish the year.
Next, I took a tapestry weaving class at the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn taught by Alicia Scardetta (check out her work!) This class was super helpful in getting me back into weaving. Weaving on a frame loom is a lot different than weaving on a table loom, so it was great to take a class that set me up with the basics so I could run from there.
-Where do you like to find your materials?
I’ve gathered quite a bit of yarn from other textile makers who are trying to pare down their own stash. A lot of my yarn collection is also from yarn.com. Shopping for yarn in person is always best though since weaving and textiles are a tactile experience. I like to visit Purl SoHo and my neighborhood Brooklyn General Store.
I work on a Dorothy Table loom by Leclerc for weaving cloth, like placemats, table runners, scarves. For that kind of project, I like to use cotton and linen. For tapestry weaving, I use frame looms that I build out of stretcher bars used to stretch the canvas over for paintings.
-What is your process like?
My process varies depending on what kind of project I’m working on. When I am working on a custom piece someone has commissioned, the process is more formal. I will put together a few options for the client (let’s be real, they’re friends) and then we’ll work from there. Once we’ve agreed upon a design and colors, then I’m locked in and mostly just need to execute. If I’m weaving for the sake of weaving and my own pleasure, then my process is looser in that I might start weaving without any plan at all and just see what happens. This can either go really well or really poorly. Sometimes things just click, and other times they don’t. I tend to make a plan so I have a jumping off point, but something to deviate from. Because weaving is a slower process, I have time to consider the next step if I’m not 100 percent on what that is yet. Weaving is also forgiving in that you can erase by pulling things apart, though this can be demoralizing depending on the amount of time spent going in the wrong direction, so always not my favorite option!
-Can you share a little bit about Nest Supply and when you started it?
Nest Supply is my Instagram account name. I started an account just for weaving as a place I could share my work and track my progress. I hadn't been weaving consistently at the time, so I was thinking that if I had an empty vessel (brand new Instagram account) that I would have to fill it up! I've been posting there for about a year and a half. As for the name, I am a homebody, so I liked the idea of a nest and the act of nesting. Weavings are layered on the table, draped on the couch, hung on the wall, - the supplies that make your home cozy.
-What do you find exciting + challenging about keeping up your weaving practice?
The challenge with weaving can be that it’s an ancient art form, so in some ways, you think it’s all been done before. Yet people are still innovating and making new work. My work is in no way innovative, it’s really more about the practice of weaving. The act of interlacing yarns under, over, under, over can be so simple or complex, but mostly just meditative in its repetition. Sometimes I worry about weaving something that doesn't look exactly like something someone else has already done. Then I think, even if someone has woven this same pattern before, I haven't made my version yet! What I make will still be unique in the yarn quality and color choices, and in my hand. Even I can't make my own design exactly the same twice. I've tried, and it's always a little bit different, which I embrace. I am not a machine and don't want to focus on being exacting because that's when the pleasure is lost for me.
-Where do you look for inspiration?
I love to leaf through books on the traditional textile art of all kinds, not just weaving. Seeing what beautiful things other people have made inspires me to go and make something of my own. I also enjoy taking walks through treelined streets of Brooklyn. I almost always go out of my way to walk a quiet street and look for shapes and color relationships. It’s the perfect blend of organic shapes in the clouds, shadows, sidewalk cracks and geometric shapes in the historic architecture.