Weaver: Catarina Riccabona

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Catarina Riccabona weaves wonderful, colourful, slubby linen textiles, the kind that call out to be stroked and explored. The cloth is handwoven in small, limited editions with different weave structures and combinations which keep your eyes gently dancing over the fabric. Catarina also has an admirable ecological philosophy, using a lot of undyed, plant-dyed and recycled yarns. She was kind enough to answer a few questions about her work below.

Tell us a little about what you make?
I’m a textile designer and hand-weaver. I make functional pieces such as throws and blankets, sometimes also scarves and cushions. But my focus is definitely on throws and blankets.
What materials do you use?
Linen is practically in every piece I make (there are only a few exceptions). I love to work with it and I love the aesthetic of linen. It tends to become more beautiful with use. My practice is based on an ecological philosophy, so I use a lot of undyed yarns like linen, hemp, wool and alpaca (from the UK and Europe) as well as plant-dyed, second-hand and recycled yarns for colour.
What techniques do you use and why?
Weaving by hand (as opposed to working with a mill) gives me a great deal of flexibility in terms of weave structure combinations, irregularity and yarn types. I use this fact in my throws that could be described as whole compositions rather than repeat designs. One of my favourite techniques is block threading. During weaving you can separate out certain groups of threads and make them do something different to the rest. I like to play with this kind of juxtaposition of colour and texture.
What/who inspires you to make your work?
I admire the quality and feel of many tribal textiles. That trace that’s left from the making process by the human hand… small variations, irregularities, imperfections. There is something honest or even innocent about such pieces. Sometimes they seem to have been made quite intuitively. For me it’s a kind of timeless beauty that is also warming and comforting.
How/where do you sell your pieces?
I sell directly from my studio at Cockpit Arts, Deptford, (by appointment) or during our twice yearly Open Studios. I also sell through places like The New Craftsmen and other independent shops/galleries. From SS15 Liberty will have my work too. And I work to commission.
Please recommend a good book?
‘Colour: Travels Through the Paintbox’, by Victoria Finlay. My first year tutor at Central Saint Martins who taught us colour theory recommended it. Each chapter is dedicated to one colour and lots of peculiar facts about it…
Any plans/ideas for the future?
From 26th to 28th February I will be in residence at ‘Atelier’ run by The New Craftsmen. During London Craft Week I will be weaving in St James’ church (Piccadilly, 7th & 8th May)! I also look forward to the opening of Field Gallery in Bruton, Somerset, in April 2015. In the more distant future there could be a very exciting collaboration project on the horizon but I’m afraid it’s much too early to say anything about it.

Thank you Catarina!

Workshop: Shibori

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I’m not sure when it became proper practice to refer to hippie tie dye as the rather more fancy sounding shibori, but that I will do. In truth, I think there is a subtle difference; 60’s-inspired tie dye tends to be quicker with more immediate and colourful results, whereas shibori is controlled, and looks directly to intricate (and ancient) Japanese binding, stitching and folding techniques. Shibori is often dyed using natural indigo – but by no means always – and the boundaries between the two techniques are definitely faint and blurry!
These photographs are from a shibori workshop I went to in the summer, led by textile artist Janice Gunner at the beautiful Cowslip Workshops in Launceston, Cornwall. Cowslip is based in several converted barns on a dairy farm, so while you are at work, you can hear the cows mooing and enjoy the view across bright green fields.
I spent two days making samples and trying out different techniques. First stitching, twisting and tying the cloth to create various resist patterns, before immersing the fabrics in buckets of deep indigo and lighter woad. When the indigo-dyed fabric is exposed to air, it is transformed from iridescent scarab beetle green to that perfect shade of deep, deep blue. It is almost a magical process and the reason many people get hooked on blues.

Meet: Maryanne Moodie

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There are so many amazing wall hangings around at the moment. I love that this craft is enjoying a resurgence as I’ve always been partial to a bit of fibre art – the weirder the better for me. I caught up with rising star of the scene Maryanne Moodie to find out more about her work.

How and when did you start weaving?
About three years ago. I was searching for a craft to pursue and when I found weaving, something inside me just turned on. I was hooked!
What materials do you use and how long does each piece take?
I use all types of yarn and textiles in my work. I use lots of vintage yarn as well as small batch, hand spun and hand dyed wool. I also use handmade beads sometimes, as well as things I find at the hardware store.
What do you enjoy most about the process?
I enjoy working closely with my clients to ensure I create a piece that is wholly them. It will be a piece that has the privilege of hanging in their personal private spaces. I want to create a piece that will bring good vibrations into their homes and their lives.
Where do you sell?
I sell only via commission at the moment. I feel so lucky that I can enjoy the process in an individual way that is different for each client.
Do you have any plans for the future?
Yes, I am setting up weaving classes in NYC and Australia and I am commissioning a carpenter to help me put beginners weaving kits together. I am also filming an online weaving course that I hope to have live in April/ May. All very exciting!

To see more of Maryanne’s work, please visit her website or follow her on Instagram.

Folk Fibers

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I am always impressed by small businesses who concentrate on making beautiful products, simply and well. Folk Fibers is one such company and they make exquisite quilts, all stitched entirely by hand and coloured using natural dyes.

Maura Grace Ambrose founded the company in Austin, Texas. She organically grows, harvests, and forages for natural dyes in the local area, focusing on substantive or direct dyes, such as indigo, cochineal, walnut hulls, and onion skins. “I favour substantive dyes because colourfast fabrics are achieved without the aid of chemical additives, known as a mordants. Without the need for mordants the dying process becomes simplified and enjoyable, as well as kind to the environment.”

Often Maura patchworks the dyed fabric together with other materials, both vintage and new. She is committed to using 100% natural fibres and chooses solid colours for their timeless appeal. Personally I think the indigo wholecloth designs with white shashiko stitching above, are some of the most beautiful quilts I have seen. As Maura explains, “my passion for quilting is rooted in the love and beauty achieved from hand stitching. The art of hand quilting does take more time, but the results are greater and more valuable than a manufactured quilt.”
Each finished piece also comes in a handmade cedar box, which is almost (but not quite!) as good as the completed quilts themselves.

To see more of Folk Fibers inspiring work, you can visit their online shop and website.