Weaving is a craft that I know very little about but I think it can often be mistaken as being traditional and slightly old fashioned when in reality its a very experimental and organic craft. Liz Toohey- Wiese is an artist who uses weaving to great affect- earthy and homely yet bold and modern. Check out her Etsy shop to get a hold of some beautiful wall hangings.
Liz was kind enough to give us an insight into her studio and art practice...
How did you get into fibre arts?
I started weaving during a particularly long Christmas vacation at my family's house in 2012, needing the distraction of a winter craft. I made myself a loom from a cardboard box and taught myself initially through YouTube videos. Gradually I found some useful books on the topic, made friends with weavers, and slowly upgraded my cardboard loom to one made from copper pipes (though a cardboard loom still works quite well for many projects!). I began sharing my knowledge with others keen to learn how to make tapestries, and lead a half-dozen beginner weaving classes in Vancouver, BC. I have since moved to the community of Halifax, Nova Scotia where the fibre arts are much more prevalent. I am now undertaking my Masters of Fine Arts at NSCAD University, and have been given the opportunity to study weaving formally. While still making wall hangings, I am also making blankets, and learning how to use a Jacquard loom.
What inspires you in your artworks?
I love the woven work of Sheila Hicks and Gunta Stolz. "The Tapestry Handbook" by Carol K. Russell was a great resource to me as I learned to weave. I have a small collection of rugs, the two nicest ones are from Turkey that my partner bought for me. I love having handmade textiles around the house, and their presence is maybe the best motivation to keep creating woven objects. I am a painter as well as a weaver, and often the paintings I am currently working on inspire my colour palettes in my weavings.
Can you give us an insight into your process of creating your products from start to finish?
I often begin with one type of fibre I find interesting, maybe some thick angora wool or sparkling thread I found at a thrift store, and I am curious how it will look woven into a field. I often have only a basic idea to begin a piece with, this weaving will have a mountain shape in it, this one will have stripes, this one a circle. I work on a small table top loom, drink good coffee, and listen to a radio show or a documentary while working. My wall hangings take anywhere from a day to a few weeks to complete.
How do you keep yourself organised?
In my studio I pin everything important onto my wall. This includes ideas for future projects, forms to fill out, letters to send. I have a sketchbook for ideas, mostly I use that for long term projects. All my yarns stay in baskets organized by colour. There are definitely lists of notes and drawings scattered on my desk, I am not the most organized person and things do sometimes get lost...
Do you ever have creative blocks? How do you get through them?
Right now I have the luxury to treat my art practice like a full time job, I aim to spend at least 40 hours a week in studio and sometimes more. This time last year I was working full time during the day and weaving until 1 or 2 in the morning most nights, I am trying to take advantage of being in school again and going to my studio as much as possible. Some days I go to the studio and clean, or take care of my houseplants in the window, or catch up on e-mails, and don't work on any art projects. But sometimes in that busyness a new idea will come to me, some problem will be solved, and in that case I am in the right spot to go right back into a weaving, a drawing, or a painting.