Thank you so much to those who came along to the Hackney Bridge Market this last weekend! It was so good to see your faces in the cold! Many of you were interested in the Backstrap Weaving Workshop on the 11th of February, so here's the promised link:
Hope to see you there! It will be a lot of fun.
Without further ado, here's a little email about some reflections on what has been happening at my backstrap weaving studio this year.
There's a certain vulnerability that comes with running your own studio and constantly posting online to generate content. Everyone is always asking about your work and involved in what you're doing. Over the past year I've found it's easy to just say "oh yeah, it's going great, I've got this commission and working on this new collection", when in reality I might be feeling overwhelmed and like I should just give up.
I tend to be a person who on the outside looks to be chirpy and positive, but on the inside, my first thought is usually negative. It's this kind of persona that I have crafted over the years. It's easier for me pretend that I'm feeling okay about my work and/or life and not start a real conversation about how I'm really doing.
This time of year, amongst the busyness of Christmas, the tiredness of a long term... it's hard to find time to sit down and reflect. However, I've found that once I sit down and reflect on the good things, I feel like there is a lot to be excited about!
My big lesson from this year is: be patient, work hard, and know that you can't control everything. This is a good thing though: if I was to control everything and know the exact outcome of what I'm making or putting out there, I would keep doing mediocre work. I'm also learning that it's good to just keep making, keep experimenting. Stick to an idea, try it out, consider it, reiterate it. Put it out there. Get feedback. Take it well, don't get too emotional. Plan well.
I developed backstrap loom kits for people attending my first workshop earlier this year. These initial versions worked well, but I came away with lots of ideas for how I could make something even better. I came up with a wish list of things the ideal backstrap loom kit might have:
- Perfectly shaped and weighted wooden beams and sword
- A substantial, heavy duty backstrap that's comfortable to wear for hours
- Multiple eyelets for attaching ropes that won't fray or stretch, making the tension easier to control and adjust
- Locally and ethically sourced materials wherever possible
- An aesthetic inspired by outdoor gear, reflecting the ability to travel with the loom and use it anywhere you find yourself
After countless hours of planning, prototyping, sourcing and making, I now have a loom kit that I'm incredibly proud of and excited to have other's use to create beautiful woven pieces of their own!
I found a lovely man called Gareth in Nottingham who hand carves the wooden beams and swords. I worked with Gareth to iterate on my initial design until they were the ideal shape, strength and weight. The fabric for the backstrap is an amazing heavy duty organic cotton from a mill in Wales. It was so fun to see all this come together to make a sustainably made and locally sourced loom kit.
I'll have the kits for sale in my online shop soon, as well as teaching videos that will be available soon to help you get started on your backstrap weaving journey. Keep your eyes peeled for an email showing the looms being made, and more info about when they will be available.
I'm not gonna lie, the process of getting to the point of releasing a collection this year took a very long time. I kept comparing myself to other makers, thinking that I needed to copy their style, copy their products or pieces - how else was I going to make sure this work made me money? I kept making things that didn't work and didn't have much energy about them. I was so excited when I finally landed on the idea of CRISPS: simple, humorous and people really got on board. I'm really proud of myself for finding my own voice in my weaving practice this year. I stopped worrying about what sells, but focused on making something good. I embraced the "wonkiness" of my style and went for it.
I'm hoping to release another collection this coming year. I've got some fun ideas that I can't wait to share with you...
I've really loved working on commissions this year too. I love the process of working with clients, hearing their ideas and working together to make their idea a reality. It's so satisfying to see people be so pleased with their piece and how it turns out at the end. I'm definitely wanting to do this more in 2023! Hit me up if you have any pieces you would like to work on together. The wilder, the better.
As I've said previously, I've really come to enjoy weaving on a backstrap loom. I have developed my own way of weaving in this way, using the same tools but adapting it to tapestry weaving, or working into the warp with sewing or printing on top afterwards. It's such a unique way of weaving and I've really enjoyed teaching my first workshop this summer and I'm excited for the one in February at Make Town! I hope that 2023 will bring more workshops - it's such a great way of meeting new people and I love the joy that people feel when they weave their first few rows! It's awesome.
So here's to 2023! May there be more whimsical weaves, backstrap looms and weaving joy sprinkled on top. I'm excited for what is to come and more lessons learnt on the way. Thanks for joining in with me on this little journey.
Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas with your loved ones and wishing you a Happy New Year!
Catch you in 2023!
As always, thanks for reading,
p.s. Please share my newsletter with anyone you think might enjoy it – every new subscription really makes a difference!