It’s time for another weaver interview!! Today’s interview is with the talentedVanessa Lauria of pidge pidge. I love Vanessa’s use of pattern and colors. She has really inspiring color palettes that drew me to her lovely handwoven scarfs. But not only does she makes scarfs, she also weaves wall hangings, necklaces, and more. Let’s get to know Vanessa a little better…
How did you first come across weaving?
I took my first weaving class in college back in 2002 and was hooked instantly. Winding a warp and dressing a loom is a process that can take about 6 hours. It may seem tedious to some, but I couldn’t get enough of it. My professor gave me permission to use the studio the summer after graduation and I’d walk there every day after work to weave.
My creative productivity varies by the season. I like long stretches of time to get into a flow and let hours speed past in moments. It’s much harder to be creative when the weather is nice. I’m most creative on rainy or snowy days when I have no other responsibilities, can put away my laptop and just weave.
Do you have a creative ritual?
I always weave barefoot or with socks on. Tea and snacks are perfect for mid-morning hunger pangs. I work best with podcasts or Netflix playing, so I can settle into the rhythmic clacking of the loom and focus.
Are you a messy creative or an organized creative?
I tend to make a bit of a mess when creating. But my workspace can’t start off that way. I need a fresh, organized space so clutter doesn’t distract me. Then yarn swirls around like a tornado.
When I’m designing colorways for scarves, I always look to my weaving journal, nature (and the world around me), or pinterest for color inspiration. I’m always on the lookout for color combinations that vibrate together, complement and show each other off or contrast with one another to pop.
I like to preplan a color flow for each scarf by arranging bobbins in a loosely structured order, designing from one end to the other. When I sit down to weave, I allow plenty of room for spontaneity in color changes. I let mistakes become happy accidents, repeating glitches to create new patterns.
I think I reserve a part of my creative mind to be constantly working on ideas for new products or techniques. I’ve always been fascinated by the brain’s incubation process: tucking a thought away, letting it mature, and then allowing it to come back to me when I’m doing something completely unrelated.
Do you have a preferred material that you like to use?
I’ve found a common misconception is that handwovens tend to be itchy and stiff. For that reason, comfortable, natural fibers are really important to me. I love ultra soft cotton, bamboo, merino wool, baby alpaca, and silk. Hand dyed or spun yarns are so exciting to me, that I often ration it out – a little stripe here, a little stripe there. I’m always on the hunt for vibrant colors or unique textures; sometimes a tiny touch of sparkle can surprise me.
Creating is stress relief. It keeps me sane and makes me feel good to share what I make with others. When I can explain the process and get people interested in the craft, they often want to try themselves. Creating means that I don’t ever have to be bored. I can explore and experiment, challenge myself to problem solve, and stay curious.
What is your most favorite creation and why?
Every once in a while, I’ll weave a scarf I just can’t part with; the color flow makes me so happy. My wardrobe is mostly gray and navy blue, so my small handwoven collection becomes perfect statement pieces. The scarves often spark conversation and make me proud to wear something I’ve created with my own two hands. Sometimes I use up the last bit of a truly unique handmade yarn, know I’ll never come across it again, and want to hold on to it forever.
What advice do you have for those wanting to find their own style?
My goal for weaving students is to teach different basic techniques while encouraging experimentation. Have an open mind, knowing that you may end up in a completely different spot than you’d anticipated. Try not to think of mistakes as mistakes, rather happy accidents; you may create a new technique in the process or find something beautiful in the unexpected.
Look for inspiration in the world around you. If you work better within structure, try this exercise: visit a museum, find something you’re drawn to, look at proportion, color and texture. What is it about that painting/sculpture/installation that you love? Think about how you can borrow these ideas and jot down a few notes rather than snap a photo with your phone. Let your memory guide you intuitively, be open to the creative process and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Unique styles come with experience and play. It arrives unannounced for you to embrace and evolves with time.
Are you a eat in or take out person?
I really enjoy cooking when I have the time to, but I’m a sucker for takeout. I could eat Thai food every day.
What is your favorite color and why?
I love vibrant color, the way different shades come to life in each other’s company. Cadmium poppy red, peacock blue, saffron yellow, and kelly green make my heart sing.
Are you a book or movie person? And what is a good one you’d recommend?
Both! But books were my first love. Two heartbreakingly beautiful novels I read this past year: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I could go on and on with recommendations (anything by Barbara Kingsolver, Ann Patchett, Tana French, Donna Tartt for starters..).
Do you prefer relaxing beach vacations or on the move sight-seeing vacations?
A great book, beach umbrella, crunchy & sweet snacks, the sound of ocean waves – yes, please! To balance out all the lazing about, I adore long shore walks for beachcombing shells, sea glass and beautiful bits of nature.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I would love to recommend 2 invaluable weaving resources I learned from in college and still refer to often: New Key to Weaving by Mary E. Black and A Handweavers Pattern Book by Marguerite Davison. Also, this fantastic(!) book about creativity: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.
I relish conversation about fibers, weaving questions and suggestions; sharing my passion for modern color, texture and pattern is my favorite part of the biz! I invite readers to subscribe to my weekly newsletter or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to chat weaving.
You can find Vanessa & pidge pidge at the following links:
I love how Vanessa describes her process for finding inspiration. What a great idea to keep a journal of weaving inspiration and notes.
Don’t you just love Vanessa’s color combinations? What is your favorite pidge pidge piece? Do you also keep a journal of ideas/thoughts for weaving?
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