The creative process from idea till design

Often people wonder how a handwoven scarf, cushion or towel is made. When I explain the process they’re amazed and surprised about the amount of time it takes to design and make something handwoven. It involves a lot of steps, no matter what I make. That’s why I start by making a mindmap.

Nature, Scandinavia, art, travel, 100 year old patterns, colorcombinations, even a scent….in all of that I find my inspiration for a design. When I design I try to look for a style that is dearing, innovative, fun and stylish with a love for traditional techniques. Making an inspirationboard is handy !

The result always has a wow-factor. People often say they recognize my style immediately. It’s colorful, stylish and looking at it makes you smile. I keep an eye on designtrends, but I don’t follow them, I don’t copy a design from others nor will I use colorcombinations because it’s trendy. And when weaving specialists say that something is not woven as it was meant to be…..well, that’s a real creative killer isn’t it ?

Research

Weaving is also about research, which material, technique will I use ? Is there a variant possible ? Will I use only regular yarns like wool, cotton or linnen ? What colors will look good ? Or will I embed leather, copper, alpaca, vicuna, videotape, ledlight into the design? Not everything works well together and sometimes an idea does not look good when woven. That’s why making a prototype is important.

Prototype

Making a prototype (or a first handwoven version) is essential for a good product and usually it’s made on a testwarp. A testcloth can have like 10 different smaller cloths in different patterns with different weft yarns, colors and materials. When the prototype is finished it’s taken of the loom and wet-finished to see how the result is. That’s when I can still make alterations in my design before the final cloth is woven.

Looking at the prototype gives me the opportunity to see which elements from which variant look the best and can be combined in the final version. Elements that will be written out are the used yarns, colorcombination, pattern, technique, design elements, how it was wet finished, do’s-and-don’ts. Sometimes the prototype is not suitable for the project I had in mind, but may be of use for a futur product or artwork. So, not everything in a creative process will be woven.

The creative process and prototyping is very time consuming. Nevertheless I will only weave 1 item. Ofcourse that item can become available in several variations, but from each product I design there is only 1. Each item is unique.

Step by step process

  1. Choose a product (cushion, scarf, towel, etc…)
  2. Think about a pattern (plain weave, twill, deflected double weave, shadow weave,….) which will be suitable for the aimed project. Not every pattern is suitable for every project. For example, you don’t want long floats in a teatowel because jewelry and fingers might catch the floats.
  3. Design the pattern in my weaving computer programme. This programme is needed to make the process of designing easier. I can easily change/switch between patterns, colors, tie-up, etc…
  4. Choose yarn (wool, silk, thick, thin,….) and colors.
  5. Upload the yarn/colorchoices so the computerdesign can calculate the correct sett.
  6. Create a prototype.
  7. If all is according to my satisfaction I can start making the final warp. The computerprogramme tells me how many meters of which color/yarn I need to warp.
  8. Transfer the warp to the loom
  9. Thread the heddles according to the pattern. Here come’s the computerised pattern in. With just one click on my ipad I can see which heddle to thread in which color. The threading of the heddles determines how the pattern will look.
  10. Check the threaded heddles and make sure there are no mistakes. Correct if necessary.
  11. Thread the reed. The reed determines how soft or firm the cloth will be. This is very important. You want a nice, soft, drapy scarf. Upholstery for furniture on the other hand has to be very firm.
  12. Tie the yarn in small bundles to the front apronbeam.
  13. The process above takes me 2 days to complete.
  14. Now the actual fun begins….Let’s weave !
  15. When all the weaving is done, it’s time to take the cloth off the loom.
  16. Wet-finish the cloth according to the used yarn. For example, you don’t want your woolen scarf washed at high temperature because it will felt.
  17. Cut, sew and finish the project and sew on the leather label.
  18. With a photographer we take photos in interiors.
  19. Upload the photos to the website.
  20. Write press reports and mail them to interior design magazines.

Because of the intricate and time-consuming process I cannot produce items at the speed and price of industrial produced goods. Artisanal products, however, are not meant to replace factory goods, but to complete them. 

I’m an artisanal weaver, each item I produce is unique and I’m proud of it.

Ilse

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