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  • Crossing the Lizard [detail], Katharine Swailes, 2017. Photo: Steve Speller

Crafts Council Maker of the Week: Katharine Swailes

Katharine Swailes of Weftfaced Studio featured in House & Garden

Our Directory Maker of the Week, Katharine Swailes, talks to us about getting into making, what inspires her and her favourite part of the making process.

Who or what got you into making?

I came from a family of makers and artists. We seemed to have an endless supply of paper and paints, pencils, and crayons at home when growing up. But my earliest memories are of stitching, and many hours sorting through boxes of fabric that would become the family cloths. Some of the fabric would date back to the eighteenth century; recycling of fabric was central to family life. This exploration of old textiles continued into my first career as a costumier researching and creating costume from 1750 – 1930. 

Tell us a bit about your work

Construction, research, and exploration of materials have all informed my artistic path. I create handwoven tapestries, these are often finely woven and small in scale. The materials chosen inform the shape of the piece these can be wall based or a sequence of reliefs. I use a minimal palette of traditional and newly created techniques. The materials are specific to each series.

What is your favourite part of the making process?

The boundaries of the materials and research is where the shape and form of my work starts and I love this part. I spend years looking quietly waiting for the next clue to appear. I then find myself in the body of a series of work that becomes intuitive, and a repetition that becomes a muscle memory like a form of meditation that make days and weeks pass by. 

What are your inspirations?

I am currently drawing inspiration from a piece of pre-Columbian weaving that we have at Atelier Weftfaced. It is centuries old and not changed over time.

What are you working on right now?

Centuries have passed since the pre -Columbian textile was woven. It is the constants that I want to weave, and a stripped back process reflecting on the techniques and patterns of then and now. This body of work is called Glyphs and Loops and references ancient textiles. With a focus on the use of a supplementary weft to create the glyphs, (a way of forming text from yarn). I am investigating the techniques of tapestry weaving and the act of weaving itself, how it creates a meditative space in life, I look for solace in my work.

Find Katharine Swailes on the Crafts Council Directory

Read the Weftfaced feature in House & Garden

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