AN INTERVIEW WITH RAWGANIQUE

RAWGANIQUE

Interview by Sarah Neubert

rawganiqueheart.png

The Weaving Kind is committed to promoting sustainable weaving practices. We are thrilled to be partnering with Rawganique, a company that has so much integrity when it comes to sustainability. Rawganique has graciously donated a huge load of hemp yarn and fiber for the upcoming Weaving Kind Makerie retreat so our participants can experience their awesome fiber first-hand. A huge thank you to Rawganique -- we are so excited to work with this amazing company! Read on:

Describe in a few sentences the evolution of Rawganique.

Rawganique was founded by two off-the-grid homesteaders who went to Denman Island to live totally off the grid, grow their own foods year-round, and rescue animals. This history has informed Rawganique the company since its founding in 1997. Today, while we have grown our offerings to over 1,000 organic cotton, linen, and hemp products, our philosophy is still very much the same. We are passionate about what we do. We believe that by making our products end-to-end, from growing, to weaving, to knitting, to sewing, we are offering the world a choice to unequivocally move forward towards true sustainability, with full respect for humans, animals, and our common planet.

Why is hemp such an important fiber? What’s happening in the world of hemp growing?

Hemp is important because hemp changes everything. It’s the first fiber known to humankind, and it’s still the smartest fiber we can wear that can be sustainably produced without using a lot of our precious resources like water and without using toxic chemicals like pesticides. Hemp is so versatile: it can be clothing, shelter, food, concrete, rope, twine, and so much more. Thankfully, there has been a huge renaissance in hemp. There’s a lot of interest and publicity surrounding hemp today. Hemp is finally getting the exposure and understanding it deserves. Once people get how beautifully textured and versatile it is as a fiber, especially, they’ll be wanting to wear only hemp. We are right there with that movement, and we are emphasizing the organic cultivation of our hemp as well as the way we process the hemp fiber traditionally, naturally, organically, the way it has been for centuries in Europe, as opposed to way hemp is being processed in many parts of Asia using caustic sodas and acids.

rawganiquehemp.jpg

What are the health benefits of surrounding yourself with organic, naturally processed fibers?

The skin is porous, so it goes without saying that breathable organic natural fiber garments are the very best for our skin. Hemp and flax linen are amazing bast fibers — the microscopic hollow cores that are the feature of these two fibers allow them both to breathe exceedingly well, to wick away moisture at a fast pace (keeping you comfortable and dry in muggy weather, for example), and to insulate you against the elements, which leads to the legendary status of hemp and linen as cooling in the summer and warming in the winter. The hemp and linen fibers are in effect using our own body heat to keep us warm.

What are some of the environmental implications of conventionally-grown fiber?

Where to begin? Worldwide, conventional cotton accounts for 16% of the world’s use of pesticides. In real terms, that’s ¼ pound of chemicals on average that’s used to produce two pairs of conventional underwear. In addition, cotton is one of the top 4 GMO crops, after soy, canola and corn. 90% of conventional cotton grown in the US is genetically modified. Not to mention the amount of toxic chemicals such as dioxin and formaldehyde that are routinely used to process and manufacture cotton garments. Dioxin is a carcinogen that’s derived from chlorine bleach and is responsible for hormone disruption, amongst other things. The dye process of most conventional clothing has heavy metals that contain many harmful carcinogens. And we aren’t even talking about synthetic fibers or “new” fibers such as tencil and micro-fibers yet. And there’s a lot of green-washing around, like bamboo fiber, which didn’t exist until a few years ago. We love bamboo for furniture, etc… but not for fiber, because it’s not natural. What is commonly referred to as bamboo yarn is actually human-made rayon from the bamboo plant, and there’s nothing natural or organic about the way it was processed to become the soft fiber that is being marketed as “bamboo fiber”. Conventionally garments are also very intensively wasteful on limited natural resources such as water and arable soil. All of these is why we grow, weave, knit and sew our garments in-house - to be sure that none of the pesticides, heavy metals, or toxic chemicals such as dioxin and formaldehyde enter our production chain.

rawganiquemill.jpg

Who processes the rope and fiber that’s available in your online store?

We do! What makes us unique is that we control the process from the seed all the way to the finished product. We grow, ret, scutch, and process in-house the organically grown the many hemp ropes, twines, webbing, and fabrics that we offer. And we have been doing this since 1997.

What standards do you look for when sourcing materials and fabrics? What are some simple ways that craftspeople, and weavers in particular, can begin to incorporate more ethical and environmentally-friendly materials?

We always look for purity, we always look back to how things were traditionally done hundreds of years ago, before the age of chemicals. We still process our organic hemp and linen fibers the way it has traditionally been done in Europe. In other parts of the world, Asia especially, to keep costs down and to facilitate mass production, hemp and linen fibers are often boiled down with chemicals and acids into a pulp, which is then spun like cotton (this results in short unstable yarns), which in our opinion totally defeats the purpose of beautiful natural bast fibers which yield long staple yarns — if you process them traditionally like we still do. And who needs all the chemicals that are being used to process hemp and linen today in many parts of the world? Craftspeople who care about being natural and organic should start asking questions where the fibers are grown, how they are grown, how they are processed. Often, things are often billed as made in USA when in fact the fibers are grown and processed with chemicals in China, for example, which is very misleading to consumers who are chemically sensitive and who are looking for truly natural products.

Rawganique hemp yarn, fiber, and sliver after being naturally dyed by Weaving Kind Makerie instructor, Neil Goss. Photo by Neil Goss.

Rawganique hemp yarn, fiber, and sliver after being naturally dyed by Weaving Kind Makerie instructor, Neil Goss. Photo by Neil Goss.

Many of us want to live a life that’s more meaningful and less disposable, but sometimes it feels impossible to live and work in today’s culture without compromising our inner compass. What advice or encouragement do you have for people who feel called to a sustainable lifestyle?

Our take on this is - work from the inside out. Start with what touches your skin and your glands. So the obvious starting point is underwear, bras, and socks because these intimate garments directly touch your skin in the most important places. Avoid any kind of synthetic fibers or chemical dyes. Then work on T-shirts and shoes and pants next, as they cover you much of the day. And always remember that less is more; many of our customers have pared their wardrobe down to a few pieces of essentials but each piece is made ethically and sustainably without harmful chemicals. Little by little, one can turn one’s whole wardrobe organic that way, then work on the next most important thing: the shower. If you have a PVC shower curtain, get rid of it, as PVC off-gasses over 100 toxic chemicals (many of them known carcinogens) non-stop throughout its lifetime, especially in the warm humid environment of the shower. And of course, make your towels and sheets organic and chemical-free. This whole meaningful, sustainable, ethical approach is what has led us to make over 1,000 organic products for the body and home. Our customers kept asking us to make things they need for their every life, and, being a small atelier run by inspired artisans, we are able to make all these wonderful things without having to mind the bottom line and economy of scale like big factories do.

Why was Rawganique excited to partner with the Weaving Kind Makerie?  

Because we are on the same page! We totally love what Weaving Kind is doing!!! Wow, to introduce the next generation to the lost arts and crafts of handmade natural fiber arts. That’s totally why we do what we do. We love all things natural and organic and we think natural is the most beautiful thing in the world. The stuff we have seen made with our organic hemp and linen fibers is just mind-boggling. With all the possibilities of hemp and linen, who needs anything else? Really!

rawganiquediscount.jpg

What else do you want our community to know about Rawganique?  

Rawganique is a small company made up of passionate, creative people. We really do care about the state of the earth and we care deeply about animals. We are so grateful that everyday, we are able to continue our work in making animal-friendly, planet-friendly, and people-friendly products that do not harm our common planet. We don’t know of any other company on earth that operates on this basis - to the extent that we grow, weave, knit and sew the organic products we make. To be able to control the purity of our products from start to finish is what makes Rawganique unique. We totally love connecting with people who also care about the planet, and that’s one of the biggest perks of what we do - getting to know people who care, like the good folks at the Weaving Kind. Oh, and did you know that Rawganique stands for raw - organic -unique?

AN INTERVIEW WITH NATALIE NOVAK

NATALIE NOVAK

Interview by Sarah Neubert

Natalie with her weaving, Temple of the Moon.

Natalie with her weaving, Temple of the Moon.

Natalie was one of the weavers that absolutely blew my mind when I started on my fibers journey.. but even though I'm no longer a doe-eyed newbie, and even sort of know what I'm doing, she still blows my mind. When we first started emailing and chatting, I was fan-girling so hard, but Natalie bore it all with grace and now we're buddies. She has been such an inspiration and support to me in my own weaving journey, and I'm so, so excited that the attendees of the Weaving Kind Makerie will have the opportunity to tap into some Combed Thunder magic next weekend. Read on:

What made you fall in love with weaving?

Weaving feels like coming home to me. It's supportive, it holds me. It's a place that I've made for myself that in turn has made a place for me. Finding weaving was like walking into a secret garden, one that you always hoped existed, but didn't quite know how to find or even imagine. Everything about weaving just felt right, even when I didn't know what I was doing. I still don't always know what I'm doing, but it still feels right.

Natalie Novak, Big Yellow (2013-2014).

Natalie Novak, Big Yellow (2013-2014).

You used to dance ballet. How does weaving relate to dancing?

I think weaving is very much like a dance. You're partnered with the loom and the fiber and all the motions you make together create something magic. It's a process, it's a performance. As a medium, weaving has allowed me to explore the existential and express it in the physical world the same way a dancer might. Weaving helps me move through the interior sludge instead of miring in it. The end result of dancing is intangible while the end result of weaving is cloth, but they both require intention, repetition and a body in motion. And so many years of classical ballet have helped me keep good posture sitting long hours at the loom. 

When is a time you've experienced healing through your weaving practice?

Weaving is healing all the time: it is meditation, it's color therapy, it's a connection to our human ancestors! Having a connection like that is an incredibly powerful gift, if you're at the loom, you're never alone. I like to think about the millions of weavers past, present and future who I'm tied to just through the simple act of weaving. We may never meet, but we share an experience that transcends space and time and that seems like pretty good medicine to me.

In a more palpable sense, weaving has introduced me to a slower pace that helps keep me present, something I feel like I have difficulty doing in so many aspects of my life. My brain tends to spin and my body tends to get tense and weaving helps me step out of that reality and into one where time isn't as linear and what matters most is the color, texture and shape of right now. Weaving at the loom is so slow and tactile I feel much more connected to the work I'm making. It gives me space to process thought and emotion in ways I haven't found elsewhere, weaving gives me room to breath.

Natalie Novak, Mt. Shasta and the Lemurians (2013).

Natalie Novak, Mt. Shasta and the Lemurians (2013).

You're teaching Southwest Weaving Techniques at the Weaving Kind Makerie. Talk a little bit about how Southwest weaving techniques have influenced your work, and why it's valuable to explore different types of weaving.

I first learned to weave on a Navajo style loom. The tools are earth-based and beautifully uncomplicated and the whole process has a specific order and direction. The final size of the weaving is determined by the warp which is finished before the weaving begins. Traditionally the weaver doesn't use a cartoon, instead she keeps the design in her mind. Weaving this way is like poetry, you have to be willing to let go of what you think you're making in exchange for what is actually happening on the loom in the moment. You learn to make adjustments to your design that keep harmony with what you've already woven while the weaving follows a new path to the top of the loom. In part, I think it's these constraints that have led to the creation of complex and sophisticated patterns on such simple looms. The Navajo weavers use these limitations to advance their designs instead of letting them impede their weaving. The focus is on holistic beauty instead of production speed.

The first several pieces I wove borrowed many patterns, especially from Navajo and Zapotec weavers; it's how I learned the language of weaving. As beautiful as I found them, the designs didn't really belong to me and I needed to find another way to express what I wanted to say in a vocabulary of my own. My body already knew the basic motions when I started to learn new tapestry techniques and weave on different types of looms. I've learned from many teachers, trying a little of this and a little of that and slowly mixing it together in a new language of my own. My hands have led the way to a style of weaving that feels direct and authentic to me. 

Natalie Novak, Spider Woman (2012-2013).

Natalie Novak, Spider Woman (2012-2013).

You studied at the Damascus Fiber Arts School, where you worked with an older generation of weavers. How did you benefit from knowing them, and why do you think weaving in community is important? What's different about the older and younger weaving generations?

The school itself has been around since the 1960's, and it's currently run by weavers Audrey Moore and Terry Olson. What's particularly special about the Damascus School is that it is so community oriented. For the most part people don't just show up and learn to weave, never to be heard from again. They stick around, sometimes for decades. On any given day there are around 20 weavers, each working at their tapestry loom or a Navajo style loom in one of the two rooms of the 19th century school house that DFAS calls home. It's a charming place and the people are incredible. They are generous with their time, their knowledge, their weaving books and their yarn. There are so many stories shared about weavers and weaving, in a way it's a living library. Audrey turned 91 this past year and if I had to guess I'd say the average age of a weaver at the Damascus school is about 70, maybe 65. Collectively, we're talking about centuries of weaving experience. The weavers at Damascus aren't there just to weave, they're actively working towards creating an educational, loving, encouraging and fun environment, that sort energy doesn't happen alone in a studio. Competition and critique aren't really a part of it, I mean, we work to improve our designs and techniques and color choices, but never to out do one another. No one's worried about whether or not anything will sell or if a thousand strangers on social media will double tap anything they make. Everyone is really interested in weaving because they love weaving and we just share weaving with each other all day long. It's beautiful, it's healthy, I wish everyone had a version of Damascus they could go to. I think part of the generational difference is that the younger generation is so much more virtually oriented and the older generation gathers together in real life more often. Don't get me wrong, we email each other outside of school and people pull out their ipads all the time to share things they've found on the internet, but we're actually physically together in a room, talking face to face. That's invaluable, the real human connection. And it makes it so much easier to borrow yarn! 

Natalie Novak, Temple of the Moon (2016).

Natalie Novak, Temple of the Moon (2016).

What excites you most about the young (40 & under) weavers of today?

Mostly that they exist and there seem to be so many of them. And they seem so eager to learn and be part of a community. In the past when I told people I'm a weaver, I often got the feeling that they were imagining me in an historical reenactment village wearing some sort of period costume. Or sitting in a hayloft spinning gold from straw or something. But more and more often people get it, or at least get something like it. The magic of the internet makes it so easy to share what we're doing right now and right now a lot of people seem to be weaving. The sheer volume of weavers today is breathing new life into the art/craft, it's experiencing a revival. It feels good to have something you love get recognized as valuable and worthwhile. And I find it exciting to see so many different weavers pushing their work in new directions or working to master traditional techniques.

Talk about a meaningful weaving that you've made, and what you learned from it.

Last year I wove a series called “Rituals” that was based on weaving with intention and the act of weaving as an incantation. Basically weaving as spell casting if you want to be witchy about it. Part of that series is a set of mirror image pieces called “Temple of the Sun” and “Temple of the Moon” that are essentially interior landscapes. I wove them to create a new home for all the junk that knocks around in the psyche; ecstatic joy and paralyzing fear and all the feelings that live in between those two extremes. It felt really good to create a place (even if imaginary) to sort all that stuff out and let it go. Or at least recognize it and move on instead of lugging it around all the time. I mean, I didn't achieve total enlightenment by weaving those two tapestries, but I think it made me realize the power of symbol and process in art. Creating a visual language and a using a physical practice to reveal it was a really cathartic way to move through emotions that I've had trouble understanding or have been too afraid to bring out into the light of day. Weaving is a whole lot more than an art or a craft, it's really a friend. 

Natalie Novak, Temple of the Sun (2016).

Natalie Novak, Temple of the Sun (2016).

A PLACE TO BE IN THE WORLD

A PLACE TO BE IN THE WORLD

By Jane Patrick of Schacht Spindle Company

Walking into rooms has changed my life a few times. The first time was as an exchange student in Iceland where I attended a home ec school. When I walked into a room full of looms I knew that weaving was something that I must do, but never could I have imagined that weaving would become my life’s work.

It wasn’t until I moved to Boulder that I really learned to weave from Deborah Chandler (of Learning to Weave fame) at The Weaving Shop. It was there one day when I walked into a room and met Barry Schacht, founder of Schacht Spindle Company. He asked me on a date right then and there…and the rest is history, as they say.

Schacht Spindle Company in Boulder, CO.

Schacht Spindle Company in Boulder, CO.

It was through Barry and Deborah that I met Linda Ligon, founder of Interweave Press. I had been working with youth in a few different government programs whose funding was ending. In considering what to do next, I decided that I really wanted to devote my life to my passion. Deborah suggested that I check in with Linda about a shipping job at Interweave. I never did that job but I did become Linda’s personal assistant and started bit by bit working in editorial. As it happened, I had a knack for this kind of work and after a couple of years I became editor of Handwoven magazine, as well as editing books and Design Collections.

I really learned about weaving and weavers (and to a lesser degree spinning, through some small tasks I did for the SOAR retreat and Spin-Off magazine) during the years I worked at Interweave. I was incredibly lucky to enter this field of so many talented people who enthusiastically shared their knowledge with the readers of Handwoven. A big bonus of my work with the magazine, were the weavers I met, the trends I saw, and the creative community that I felt a part of and wanted to nurture.

Ad campaign in the 80’s featuring weavers and Schacht's popular Baby Wolf loom.

Ad campaign in the 80’s featuring weavers and Schacht's popular Baby Wolf loom.

I started at Interweave in 1981, long before email and the internet. Communication was through letters and phone calls, or meeting people who flocked to conferences. As editor, I felt it was my role to try to inspire and bring people together through the articles I published, my editorials, and the tone of the magazine.

Handwoven brought weaving patterns to weavers. Prior to that, the weaving movement looked similar to the modern weaving of today. Incredibly creative people were taking to weaving as a medium of artistic expression. Though the colors were different than today, the hangings looked very similar to ones being woven today.

Schacht's new small frame loom, the Lilli Loom.

Schacht's new small frame loom, the Lilli Loom.

From those early wall hanging beginnings, many weavers eventually gravitated to floor loom weaving. It offered speed, pattern development, finer yarns, and a different creative expression.

A movement was afoot as I started at Interweave. Women who had been staying home and finding creative outlet in weaving were entering the labor force. Having less time to devote to their weaving changed how they engaged with it. Because weavers had less time, they didn’t want to sample and figure things out as much as have a ready-to-go project they could weave with confidence.

Schacht Baby Wolf Floor Loom.

Schacht Baby Wolf Floor Loom.

Weaving during this time pretty much focused on floor loom weaving. Then about 10 years ago, I felt that it was time to start promoting the rigid heddle loom as a way to introduce weaving to new weavers. We redesigned our rigid heddle looms to create the Flip Loom and then the Cricket Loom. Both of which have been successful and expanded weaving’s reach. To support rigid heddle weaving, I authored The Weaver’s Idea book and then co-authored Woven Scarves and Simple Woven Garments. Now weaving is trending towards creative expression on simple frame looms—and finding enthusiastic devotees. And this is what I find exciting about what is happening in weaving today. I’m terribly curious about how these new weavers will evolve. Will they continue to develop their wall hangings? Or, will they splinter off into traditional tapestry weaving? Will they discover that pattern weaving is their passion? My true hope is that this new crop of weavers will be a part of the caring and sharing community that I’ve felt a part of for nearly 40 years.

Sarah of The Weaving Kind and I both share a passion about creating true, authentic community. I love that she is partnering with the Makerie to bring new weavers together, to get to know each other, to learn together, to draw the circle wider.


Jane Patrick is Creative Director of Schacht Spindle Company located in Boulder, Colorado. She loves to teach rigid heddle weaving and has authored several books, videos, and is a teacher on Craftsy. Weaving is Jane’s place in the world.

As part of Schacht’s partnership with The Weaving Kind/Makerie, Schacht will provide a variety of looms for attendees to explore during the retreat. Conference attendees can also take factory tours prior to the conference.

 

AN INTERVIEW WITH ELENA ZUYOK OF MIRRIX LOOMS

ELENA ZUYOK

Interview by Sarah Neubert

elenamirrix1

Elena Zuyok has worked for Mirrix Tapestry & Bead Looms since 2010. She loves weaving, horses and snowboarding. She has a B.A. in Communication from the University of New Hampshire and an M.A. in Communication in Digital Media from the University of Washington. She usually lives in Seattle, but is currently in London for an extended stay.

Talk a little bit about how Mirrix Looms got started, and how you got involved.

Mirrix Looms was started by my mother, Claudia Chase, when I was eleven. She was a professional tapestry weaver and a stay-at-home mom who was looking for a small loom that she could take to my gymnastics meets and my brother’s soccer games. While there were portable tapestry looms available at the time, she imagined something better and began designing her dream loom. Her goal was to make a loom with perfect tension, continuous warp, a shedding device and the option for variable setts. Eventually, the loom was built and tested and she deemed it worthy. Not long after, my dad (a businessman through and through) encouraged my mom to make more looms to sell. Reluctantly, she obliged, and sent 16 looms to a weaving conference. The week of the conference we moved from Wisconsin to New Hampshire. It was long enough ago that cell phones weren’t common, and when we arrived at our new home and plugged in the phone, it began to ring. My mom answered. “I am at the conference and I’d like to order a loom.” The person on the other end of the line said. “Why don’t you buy one there?” My mom asked. “They’re sold out.” She replied.  And so Mirrix began.

While I was immensely proud of my mom and her burgeoning company, I never had much of an interest in weaving as a child or even as a young adult. I went about my life: middle school, high school, college, a foray working at a book publisher in Greece, running a State Senate campaign, spending a winter in Ukraine and eventually finding myself at an unsatisfying job in sales back in the States. One day I was talking to a fellow salesperson about my mom. He listened as I gushed on and on about her company and how close we were  and then he asked a question that would forever change my life: “Why don’t you work with her?”

And so began my journey at Mirrix. I started part-time; went to full-time; finally fell in love with weaving; went to graduate school; and now, we are partners, running the business-side of Mirrix together. We live 3,000 miles from each other, and are both hours away from our Wisconsin manufacturing facility, but we make it work like any modern small business does.

I couldn’t have predicted 20-something years ago that the loom my mom wanted so she could work while being closer to her kids would end up becoming a company that would bring us closer still.

mirrixwarehouse

What changes in the weaving scene have you noticed in the years since you started working full time for Mirrix?

In the 1970s a sort of free-form weft-faced weaving became very popular among crafters. This weaving could broadly be defined as tapestry, but classically trained tapestry weavers didn’t want their art form losing it’s identity and so they doubled down on the idea that tapestry has rules and for something to be considered a tapestry it must follow these rules. When I got involved with Mirrix, I saw the result of this mindset. Tapestry was a well-defined art within the weaving community, but the tapestry world as a whole felt a bit intimidating, even to someone like me who had grown up around it.

Recently, the same more relaxed weft-faced weaving that made an appearance nearly 50 years ago has come back in vogue. I believe it has made tapestry concepts feel more attainable and is welcoming to beginners and those who want to experiment. As the weft-faced weaving and tapestry community grows, I hope both traditional artists and new weavers can learn from each other to keep rich weaving traditions alive but also to make sure weaving is fun and attractive to everyone from casual crafters to professional artists.

What makes Mirrix an amazing company? What’s your absolute favorite part of your job?

My mom and I are fortunate to be able to make business choices we feel good about every day. From where we source our materials to where our products are made to how we treat our customers, we never compromise on our values in the name of profit. That was something my mom believed in from the very beginning and for years I’ve watched her make decisions with old-fashioned integrity that is so often absent in the business world.

I can’t talk about our company's values without discussing where our looms are made. Mirrix’s manufacturing facility is located at a place called Sunshine House. Sunshine House offers supported employment for adults with mental and physical disabilities. Mirrix Looms is the only full-time company housed there, with our managers overseeing and training employees in specialized tasks from packing boxes to milling parts. It is a fantastic place and we are exceedingly proud to have our looms made there. I remember the first time I visited manufacturing. Mom got chided for running around heavy machinery and I got to watch looms being put together so carefully and with such pride that my heart swelled.

I wrote a blog post once called, “We Admit It… (A Little Bit About Where Mirrix Looms Are Made).” It started off like this:

We admit it; our looms could be made a little faster. We could even make them a little cheaper.

If we wanted to, we could outsource our manufacturing overseas. We could use inferior materials. We could hire a call center for customer service.

But we don’t. Because we know that two things matter to our customers.

First, a quality product. A Mirrix Loom really will last a lifetime.

And second, a quality company. Mirrix Looms are not only made in America, they are made at an incredible facility called Sunshine House that employs people with mental and physical disabilities in a supported work  environment.

(You can read the whole post here: http://blog.mirrixlooms.com/blog/we-admit-it-a-little-bit-about-where-mirrix-looms-are-made/)

That pretty much sums it up!

My favorite part of my job is twofold. First, I love being wholly immersed in a creative field. While my day is spent mostly in front of a computer, sometimes I can spend an afternoon weaving and call it work. That’s pretty neat.

Second, it’s building relationships with our customers. I’ve watched so many people learn and grow and go from, “I don’t think I can warp!” to “I just got this piece accepted into a gallery showcase!” I thrive on that kind of excitement from our customers.

We truly do have an amazing Mirrix community. We rarely have to step in and moderate forums because nearly everyone is supportive, positive and helpful. We have customers who donate all their work to non-profits, mentor other weavers for free and are always there to help out when someone has a question. Once I got a package in the mail from a customer. Inside was a tapestry she made of my dog, Sam. Later, the same customer wove another tapestry of me holding Sam and gave it to my mom. These are the kind of generous, thoughtful people I get to interact with every day.

List a few of your favorite Mirrix weavers.

Kathe Todd-Hooker is one of my favorite tapestry weavers. She does small-scale tapestry, weaving with what’s basically sewing thread. Her work is truly amazing. [https://betweenandetc.com]

I love Rebecca Mezoff’s tapestries. Her pieces are so crisp and clean and perfect, it really makes you appreciate how technical tapestry weaving is. [http://www.rebeccamezoff.com]

Janette Meetze was the first person to introduce me to tapestry diaries, where you weave a little bit every day. Her diaries are fantastic, and I really love her use of color.  [http://jmeetzestudiocommonthreads.blogspot.co.uk]

In my mind Natalie Novak bridges the gap between traditional tapestry weaving and more contemporary weaving. Her work is fun and bright and original, and her workmanship is wonderful. [http://combedthunder.com]

We’ve talked a bit about bridging the gap between the older generation of weavers and the newer generation; what are some ways that young weavers can connect with more experienced artists? Why is this important?

If I could choose a weaving-related cause to advocate for, connecting weavers from these two groups would be it. I would encourage new weft-faced weavers to do some research into traditional tapestry weaving, as I hope more traditional weavers will embrace the experimentation and enthusiasm that weavers not as bound by classical rules are practicing.

I think anyone interested in weft-faced weaving should join tapestry organizations in their respective countries. The American Tapestry Alliance in the States, the British Tapestry Group in the U.K., the Australian Tapestry Workshop in Australia and the Canadian Tapestry Network in Canada are all great places to start learning about the rich history of tapestry weaving.

My mom always says, “Know the rules first. Then you can break them.” I think that’s great advice. There are so many amazing weavers out there who are willing to share their skills and knowledge with new weavers, and working together is a great way for everyone to benefit!

Tapestry woven on a Mirrix loom by Deb Santolla.

Tapestry woven on a Mirrix loom by Deb Santolla.

Since Mirrix looms were primarily developed for traditional tapestry and beading, talk a little bit about how versatile they can be and how using a Mirrix is amazing for textural fiber art. 

Mirrix looms were first developed as tapestry looms, but it wasn’t long before customers started using them for different types of weaving. They make fantastic bead looms, mixed-media looms and textural weft-faced weaving looms for many of the same reasons they make great tapestry looms: perfect (and even) tension, a shedding device and many available accessories.

One of our most popular accessories is our electric treadle. It attaches to any size Mirrix Loom and allows you to control the shedding device with your foot. This can turn a portable Mirrix loom into what’s basically a floor loom (especially when used with a Mirrix stand) and can speed up your weaving by 50% or more.

What’s the most interesting, unusual thing you’ve seen a Mirrix used for?

Three things come to mind:

First, there is an artist in New York named Anthony Locane who weaves paper on a wire warp on a Mirrix. I own one of his pieces and it’s absolutely incredible. [http://www.anthonyjlocane.com]

Second, when Kevlar (the stuff bulletproof vests are made from) was first being tested and developed, they actually used a Mirrix Loom to test its strength.

Third, the Ladd Brothers who use a large Mirrix to make huge beaded pieces as part of art installations. [http://www.stevenandwilliam.com]

What’s exciting to you about being part of the Weaving Kind Makerie?

I’m really excited to connect with and learn from a new group of weavers. There is so much energy and enthusiasm for weaving right now and it’s incredibly invigorating!

True or false: If everyone was a weaver, there would be no wars.

About a year and a half ago my grandmother died. That night I made myself a martini (her favorite drink), played show tunes (her favorite music) and started weaving a tiny tapestry. I didn’t have a plan for what I was making, I just needed to weave. It was the best therapy. If everyone had that outlet, I think the world would be a much happier place.