MEET THE MAKER: CROSSING THREADS PART II
We’re so excited to announce that we’ve teamed up with Lauren and Kass, the sister duo behind Crossing Threads again to make a beautiful new piece for our Barefoot Bay Villa. We wanted for them to create a piece that was bespoke and unique. If you’ve seen the previous custom piece they created for our Barefoot Bay Cottage, you’ll know how talented this duo truly is when it comes to weaving. Read on below as we ask them all about the custom new piece for Barefoot Bay Villa.
Tell us a bit about what you both have been up to since our last Meet the Maker interview.
There has been immense change since then. Kass took a 6-month sabbatical which allowed her to walk away from her corporate 9-5 role and concentrate on Crossing Threads. Lauren had also experienced a year of freelancing on and off, dedicating her time to building the business. This period taught us many lessons about what it takes to sustain a business as well as continually assessing how CT serves us both collectively as sisters and individuals. Significantly it shed light on our personal truths and what we actually want to achieve and continue to pursue. So earlier this year in April, we made a conscious decision to return to our professional roles, but on a part-time capacity. Here we spend 3-4 days a week in our professions in advertising design and financial technology, and 2-3 days working on Crossing Threads. This revised life-structure has offered more of a balance that works for both our relationship as sisters and personal commitments.
Recently, Lauren moved into her new home which also houses our new CT studio! We now have a dedicated creative space filled with natural light and a lot of room to spread out and let our creative energy flow. Artistically, we have continued to explore methods and techniques that appeal to us as well as create new designs which have allowed to push our vision further. Some highlights include a large-scale commission for a private collector based in Hong Kong, as well as a number of commissions sent to Ireland, the US, as well as locally across the greater Sydney area. We also launched our first collection of CT Tassels which proved to be a hit and we are about to release our next drop.
Where has the inspiration come behind creating the new piece for the Barefoot Bay Villa?
It's always been a constant remix of tweaking the ratio of what we put on our plates, to "live and learn", as well as manifesting our desired 'balance' of what will serve us for both the business and our relationship as sisters. In the same vein, our newly found practice of SAORI weaving has enabled us to reflect on this through our new work. Navigating the unknown through experimentation and leaning into the pockets of surprises that come along the way. This grounding, earthy colour palette is a reflection of our humble beginnings and love for Mother Nature. But now, we are expressing our individuality through a new medium of weaving. Becoming more aware of our consciousness and finding the pleasure of not knowing "all the answers", and surrendering to the path to find them.
Where did you start in the creative process for this new piece?
The arrangement of the SAORI panels came from experimentation and a moment of serendipity. We have been weaving a collection of panels and scarves and one day we thought to drape a few on a suspended natural stick and see where it could take us. We instantly fell in love with the way the soft woven cloth drapes, evoking a dynamic balance of movement and formality. This level of restraint is a strong contrast to our previous frame-loom artworks which are highly textural, tactile and dense in nature.
What were the initial processes after deciding on the colours?
Heavily inspired by the colour palette provided by the team at The Designory, we just love using colours pulled from Mother Nature; sandy neutrals, slate greys, forest greens, rustic tobacco terracotta hues. We’ve had experience playing within this colour spectrum before and instantly visited our fibre stash for reference. As part of our creative process, we individually scamp up our own ideas and interpretations and then come together to collaborate on a final design. We love this ‘pick and mix’ approach as we discover synergies in our designs as a whole and can easily bounce ideas off one another. This scamp is designed to spec, and shared with The Designory for review. We then co-create by sourcing natural fibres that would provide suitable drape but also employ luscious textures that would complement the decor and finishings in the space. For The Barefoot Bay Villa, we saw this as an opportunity to express our distinct Crossing Threads aesthetic which is raw and abundant, but dial it back and present it in a different format.
Have you made a piece similar to this one before or has this been a completely different experience in the creative process?
Discovering our passion for SAORI weaving has definitely opened our eyes and has served us more spiritually in finding our identity. The rhythm and ‘flow state’ that you can experience from throwing the shuttle back and forth is utterly liberating and has been cathartic and healing compared to our frame-loom weaving. This, in turn, led us to a slightly different perspective of the creative process, as we learn how to embrace the ‘perfect imperfect’ features of both the cloth and fibres that form it. Something that we would otherwise knit-pick or scrutinize is instead being celebrated for its imperfections and adds to the beauty and charm of the weavings themselves.
What are the materials you are working with and why did you choose to go with these materials in particular?
Our Our fibre curation is a mix of Japanese silk, banana silk, sari silk, bamboo, Merino wool, Uruguyan hand-dyed Merino wool, Pima Cotton, cashmere, silk, alpaca, hand-torn linen, upcycled leathers, hand-dyed raffia and twine, Mulberry silk and so much more! We’ve always preferred using natural fibres as not only does it present a premium lux finish but are more friendlier to the environment. For this particular style of weaving, we are constantly thinking about the drape of the panels and opt for finer ply fibres to create softness.
What kind of various techniques have you used for the piece when working with a plethora of textures?
We use a variety of techniques which include two/three colour interlocking, clasp weft which introduces an interesting linework pattern, soumac, inlays to add a pop of colour or accent texture, SAKIORI (traditional Japanese rag weaving technique which uses narrow strips of old cloth as its weft), leno lace weaving, and float weaving (skipping some of the warp threads) just to name a few! A common theme in our work is the gradation of texture from the bottom upwards. In panel 1 of the design, we have applied this approach by creating a build-up of texture which fades out into snail trail-like linework.
Can you explain to us the new weaving style you are using for your pieces?
We expanded our weaving practice by learning the philosophy of ‘SAORI’, a Japanese free-weaving style which encourages self-innovation and the development of individual creativity. It is here, we are welcomed to weave without intention and to look inwards, weaving your personality onto the loom and embracing your flaws. The mark of the hand is celebrated, as well as the uniqueness of handweaving as opposed to a machine. The “SA” of SAORI has the same meaning as the first syllable of the word “SAI”. It means that everything has its own individual dignity. The “ORI” of SAORI means weaving. - Misao Jo (Creator of SAORI) This style of weaving allows us to create a cloth that is a unique representation of what life is currently like, transferring your energy onto the loom and seeing it unroll via colour and texture.
Where did you learn this new weaving style? Do you have any mentors or are you both self-taught? How did your creative business come about?
For a long time, we have been lusting over SAORI, having discovered it well before we started tapestry weaving. In 2017, as a birthday gift to each other, we spent a weekend away and drove up to Old Bar to learn SAORI with Karen ‘Kaz’ Madigan, also known as The Curious Weaver. She is a credited SAORI teacher, with a wealth of knowledge and a beautiful soul. We spent endless hours weaving and sharing stories of our inspiration and our love of fibres. We were so enthralled with SAORI, we came home with our own SAORI loom which we have named it ‘Grace’. Last year, we arranged a second visit to Kaz to learn how to create our own custom wraps. Prior to this, we were first introduced to tapestry weaving by taking a workshop with Natalie Miller who is a pioneering fibre artist in both Australia and the international scene. After taking her beginners workshop in 2015, we were instantly hooked with ‘weaver fever’ which lead us to countless hours of practice and experimentation to finding our own authentic style and voice. Carving our aesthetic and becoming more confident in our fibre art practice comes with time, and we consciously factored our Crossing Threads partnership into our lifestyles working on it every chance we could get. Building a brand and creative business from the ground-up is no easy task, let alone working with your sibling. Being sisters and also close in age (13 months apart), we’ve always enjoyed being each other’s cheer team, supporting each other’s ventures and personal interests. For a large part of our lives, we grew up dancing and celebrated self-expression through movement and rhythm for over 13 years. Our love for embellishment and textiles grew as we spent many hours at fabric stores selecting fabric and trimmings for our dance costumes and watching our parents tag-team at sequencing and beading them. The needle and thread have been part of many childhood memories. Leaning into adulthood, Lauren studied Visual Arts and Design and has been practicing as a professional Designer in the advertising industry for the last 8 years. After our first introductory workshop to tapestry weaving in early 2015, we immediately caught “weaver fever” and spent many weekends together practicing and honing our craft. Through extensive experimentation, we gradually became more confident in finding our authentic voice as textile artists. This “hobby” organically grew into a “side hustle” after generating strong interest in commission work and new business via our Instagram profile. We never thought that one day we would share a creative business together, whilst also being an artistic duo. Weaving and what it means to each of us is different. For Kass, weaving became a channel to release, meditate and be present, which served greatly in contrast to the daily grind of corporate life. For Lauren, the birth of Crossing Threads became the ideal platform and opportunity to practice her accumulative experience in design, branding, creative direction, content curation and marketing. It has become a partnership which is constantly evolving, teaching us many hard lessons but also has served us some very special moments as the result of working together. We are learning to be more cognizant of the purpose behind our partnership, how we spend our time together and also juggling the balancing act of sustaining a business and also our fundamental relationship of being sisters. We are grateful to have both found something we are each passionate about, and will always cherish the sacredness of sharing what we create with not only a friend but your own sibling.
Where did you source your fibres and materials for this piece? Were any of these fabrics ethically sourced?
We are true believers of ‘breathing life’ into the old. Most of our fabrics are sourced from community co-ops that resell discarded materials for charity. Here we have sourced the leather offcuts from the skip bins and enjoyed many hours scouring through to find those gems. Our sari silks are sourced from a supplier from India whom upcycles old saris into fabric yarn to be reused as well as respinning cutting-room floor thread into bespoke yarn. The natural raffia was sourced from a local artisan named Brooke Munro, who obtains the natural fibres from the land and botanically, eco-dyes the raffia and twine. Our warp thread has been carefully considered as we require a large volume to prepare the fundamental basis for our woven panels. We have selected Organic Egyptian Cotton Yarn by Venne which has received a GOTS Certification (The Global Organic Textile Standard). We’ve made a conscious decision to invest in these quality fibres that do not only offer natural luster whilst maintaining softness, but also tread lighter on the environment whenever we can.
Can you describe to us how the finished product will look?
Our art piece for The Barefoot Bay Villa will consist of 5 panels that are both draped and hopefully suspended from a natural wooden stick, sourced from the local Byron Bay surrounds. Nestled between the kitchen and main living room space, this piece will be the unifying feature linking the key elements of the interior colour palette.
For each drape, how did you come up with the initial design incorporating all of the different colours and textures?
During our initial design process, we constantly reflect on the many experiences and memories we have acquired, whether it is our personal travels or the way we feel when immersed in Mother Nature. We look to the special moments that spark joy and our foraged finds of natural wonders that decorate our own homes. We also consider the wider design narrative of the space where it will be displayed, working closely with The Designory to ensure materiality and colours match to achieve a cohesive aesthetic.
How many days/months will this new piece have taken once it's completed?
We have estimated it will take up to 3-4 weeks to complete, but we have always accounted for a little buffer to ensure we are not under pressure and can enjoy the creative process. Life can also throw some curveballs along the way!
Have you run into any challenges when creating this piece in particular or has it all gone to plan?
It is only until you start weaving with the combination of natural fibres that you can truly understand how the fibres interact with each other. This has become very interesting in learning how to balance tension and texture with different materials such as bamboo and raffia that differ in thickness, ply and elasticity. Whilst we are aiming to capture the ‘wabi-sabi’ ethos in our work, we always want to ensure that structural integrity and craftsmanship is communicated through our weavings. Overall, we have gained wisdom along the way and so far it has gone to plan.
What has been your favourite part of designing and creating this bespoke piece?
First of all, we are so excited to be working with the team at The Designory and play a part in bringing their vision to life once again. We are very grateful for the opportunity and their trust in us to pursue our creative abilities. The philosophy of SAORI has also given us new-found permission to forgive ourselves and practice self-compassion. It teaches us to dig deeper within, to embrace the ‘perfect imperfect’ imperfections that we see in others, but also in ourselves.
If someone would like to commission a bespoke piece from you, where would you suggest they start?
It is always a heart warming venture to create a one-of-a-kind, bespoke piece for our clients. Our website showcases a gallery of our recent work. Please email us with your inquiry, providing your preferred dimensions and any reference images and or photos of your space. We will then begin to flesh out your brief, getting to know your intention behind commissioning a custom piece and what this artwork means for you. Our art has held greater resonance with their collectors, as we take the time to get to know our clients and weave their unique story into the artwork. Crossing Threads is all about our dream to ‘create, connect and crossover’ with everyone that we meet.