From lavender filled animals to silk ties and jacquard woven handmade cushions, there is no doubt that textile maker Sally Weatherill boasts an eclectic and distinctive range of woven products. Informed by her love and knowledge of modern art (she particularly likes the Guggenheim Museum in New York), and with their rich colours and complex textures, Sally’s woven products would make the ideal handmade gift for that special someone.
‘Looking back, it seems as though it ought to have been obvious that I was destined to be a designer-maker,’ Sally says. Born in America, Sally grew up in a creative environment – baking, drawing, gardening, knitting and sewing were all an integral part of family life – and both her and her brothers were actively encouraged to join in. This seemed only natural and she spent much of childhood and adolescent years making things such as clothes peg dolls, gingerbread houses and knitted scarves for teddies.
At school however, Sally wanted to be a novelist and an archaeologist and went on to study art history at Brown University in Rhode Island. She then worked in an art gallery and at a graphic design firm whilst taking evening classes in anything art-related, from ceramics and metalsmithing to drawing, painting and finally textiles. She decided to pursue a degree in textiles at the California College of the Arts before moving to the UK, where, as well as setting up a studio, she works part-time at ‘The Economist’. Sally speaks avidly of the connection between the desktop publishing she does for ‘The Economist’ and weaving. Almost puzzle-like, both tasks require a fairly meticulous, organised approach and some basic maths!
Sally Weatherill has always loved colour. As a child she hoarded anything which came in sets of different colours such as jumbo packs of felt tip pens, squares of origami paper and even tubes of smarties!. Her early years were spent in a modern house just outside Chicago with floor-to-ceiling windows which brought all the colours and light of the outside in. These proved particularly fascinating at night when the windows were hidden behind vast curtains in colourful sixties designs. Perhaps this is why when she is unable to get to sleep Sally likes to picture different coloured stripe combinations in her head to help her drift off…
Peeling paint, cobbled streets, the lid of a manhole cover, an old church door, mosses and lichens… Sally is constantly on the lookout for that special colour-texture combination in the world around her (and a carries a camera with her at all time. She believes that interesting patterns, textures and colours can be found everywhere – her handmade cushions are a testament to this! When asked about what inspires her work Sally replied: ‘anything and everything!’
Sally Weatherill doesn’t much like sewing up her handmade cushions and finishing off her scarves, rather she prefers the experimental side of her craft. When weaving, she always leaves half a metre for experimenting. Often directly inspired by the yarns themselves, her work is the result of an exploration of yarn properties and technique combined with her love of colour.
‘I love trying new yarns and new weaves and I sometimes feel as though I am half scientist, half artist. I am addicted to the thrill you get when a piece of fabric comes off the loom and is washed for the first time; you never know exactly what you’re going to get.’
Sally’s favourite products to make are the woven lavender-filled animals. It all began with ‘Baby Owl’ which is based on a cuddly toy owl she made at the age of 11. The basic shape has stuck and further ideas have grown out of it; and, encouraged by her two little boys, more animals such as ‘Little Monkey’ and ‘Smitten Kitten’ joined the family. Made from her 100% lambswool woven fabric, each kitten, owl or monkey is a careful colour composition, with a characterful expression. We think they make the perfect handmade gift.
We asked Sally ‘why sell on Seek & Adore’?
‘Seek & Adore customers really appreciate the handmade aspect of the products they are buying and therefore don’t mind spending that little bit extra for something unique and made with love. I have also met several of the other makers from the site and got on well with them.’