Weaving with Lauren Dunn
What enticed you to start weaving and what about the process of making a piece do you enjoy the most?
I started weaving a little over a year ago when I came across the Instagram page of the queen bee of weaving herself, Maryanne Moodie. Her work instantly captivated me and I found myself scrolling through her page of little squares over and over again throughout the day. I discovered her through an account called TheCraftersBox, which is a small new company that features a different artist each month. They curate these boxes of all the materials needed in order to make one of their projects. You get the box in the mail and access to some online tutorials with the artists themselves. It’s a really cool company and especially great if you’re looking to learn some new skills. I signed up for Maryanne Moodie’s box (the first box of TheCraftersBox) and when it arrived I was instantly hooked. I started looking up lots of weaving tutorials on YouTube and was reading about different techniques on blogs. I’ve always been blown away by other peoples’ creativity and ideas. All I wanted to do was keep weaving and weaving, because it brought so much joy to my day.
I really do like the entire process, but I think one of the most fun parts is wandering the yarn aisles in the store and just letting my eye be drawn to different colors and textures. Most of the time I’ll come up with a concept like “the ocean” or “the desert” and I’ll pick my colors from there. I’m definitely a visual person, so I like to touch everything when I’m out shopping. It’s fun to pick up a piece of yarn or fabric or feathers and think about how I can work them into a piece to give it a whole new sense. Of course I also enjoy finishing a piece, taking it off the loom, and hanging it up on the wall for the first time. When you finally see your work come to life and bring something new to a room . . . that’s really cool too.
Do you find that working with your hands on projects that take a decent amount of time to complete provides an outlet to destress and to take a step back from our busy world?
Oh my god yes. I always tell my fiancé, Alex, that I am happiest when I’m creating. It’s such a great way to exercise your brain, and I’m always looking for ways to challenge myself. I think, as kids, we’re always being told to let our creativity flow and that everything we make is beautiful in its own sense, (I think that’s why parents’ refrigerators are always covered with bright scribbled drawings by their kids), but when we get older we’re sort of put into this corporate box where things can either be done right or wrong, or we have to follow a template, and we end up thinking the same way day in and day out, never really challenging ourselves. But when I’m making things with my hands—whether it’s teaching myself how to weave or how to sew—I’m problem-solving on my own, combining unlike colors, patterns, and textures, leading to a result that is always so fun and funky. When you’re making—especially when you’re making things just out of pure joy for yourself—there is no “wrong way.” It’s also fun to put different designs out there and see how people are drawn to them. Everyone has such a unique sense of style that is just a little peek into who they are, and I love that so much. Overall, weaving is definitely a de-stressor for me. It’s one of those projects where I can sit down for twenty minutes or for three hours, and I just completely forget about everything else going on. I love it for that. I think everybody needs some sort of creative outlet in their lives.
On average how long does a typical weaving take to complete, and when do you usually find the time to weave?
The time it takes me to complete a weaving varies depending on the size and design of the project I’m making. If I’m making a small simple piece, and I sit down and really focus on it, I can usually have it completed in a long afternoon. If it’s a larger piece, I usually like to take a little bit at a time, so that I don’t become lazy or uninspired. These larger projects can take me anywhere from four to eight days. I find that when I walk away from a project for a little bit and then come back to it, I usually see it with a brand new set of eyes. There’s nothing worse than working on something if I’m not inspired by it. Sometimes I’ll take a week off and not weave at all, and I’ll come back with so many fresh and exciting ideas. When I make really really large weavings, they can take me a couple of weeks to finish just because they’re so big. I think too, when I’m making a piece specifically for a customer, I tend to work a little faster because we’ll talk about and draw out the design beforehand, so I know what I need to weave next, rather than walking away and stirring on it for some time.
Since my current job has me working evenings, I usually find time to weave during the day on weekdays. I set up a little studio in our spare bedroom and I’ll put some music on and make some tea, and sit down to weave. When it gets really nice out in the summer, I love to sit outside in our backyard and weave too. Sometimes, if I’ve had a crazy night at work and my brain won’t shut off, I’ll weave before heading to bed. I don’t typically weave that much on weekends because I like to spend that time with friends exploring LA.
What made you decide to take your weavings online and create an Etsy shop to sell your creations? In what ways has this decision been rewarding?
I decided to start an Etsy shop when I was creating a ton of pieces, but didn’t have endless wall space to display them all. I created a couple of pieces to give to my bridesmaids and received so much positive feedback on them, so I thought it might be fun to open a little shop. I don’t ever pressure myself into adding a specific number of new items a month or anything like that, but rather I just create them as I feel like it, and update my shop as I go. In this way, it’s still a hobby that I love to do and don’t feel like I have to do. I think that’s important. When something you love to do becomes something that you have to do, I think that’s when you need to take a step back.
Opening my shop has been rewarding in a number of ways. First and foremost, it’s provided me with a little bit of extra income, which is always appreciated. Additionally though, it has really challenged me to think outside of the box and to create different kinds of pieces that I think people might enjoy. It’s opened up a dialogue between myself and customers when collaborating to create their perfect piece according to their taste and style . . . honing your abilities to work well with others is always a rewarding experience. And finally, it has opened me up to so many new friendships! I love the weaving community. I think the most rewarding aspect of opening my little shop has been the positive feedback I’ve received from customers. There is nothing better than getting a note from someone saying how much they love your work. I’ve been so fortunate since opening up—I’ve made weavings for nurseries, weddings, birthday presents, and I even sent one overseas to Europe! The fact that there are people out there who appreciate the time and love that goes into each piece, and wants them to be a part of their lives, has really made my heart feel full.
What inspires you when designing a piece? Are you drawn to specific color palettes/textures/shapes more than others, and if so, why?
Aside from working directly with a customer and creating something based on their tastes, my surroundings inspire me the most when designing a piece. I live in such a beautiful area and spend most of my time outside, so I’m constantly taking pictures of my surroundings and putting those into my weavings. Whether it’s simply a color palette, or recreating an interesting design on a wall, I like to step outside and get inspired. I also draw a lot of inspiration from books that I’m reading. If there’s a certain line or passage that jumps out at me, I’ll try to incorporate that idea into my weavings.
I’m definitely more drawn to create more free-flowing pieces, but lately I’ve been trying to incorporate more solid shapes to hone in on that skill set. I like the free-flowing designs because I don’t necessarily jump into them with a plan, but rather just let myself figure it out as I go, and that’s kind of a fun mental escape. It’s also easier for me to incorporate a wider range of different textures in these kinds of pieces. I was really challenged at the end of 2016 to create a lot of college letters for customers, and I actually loved that because I had to use a lot of math and measurements to figure it out. It was a really rewarding experience for me.
Lauren Dunn is a twenty-five-year-old Southern California resident who spends her days creating and her nights working in television editing. She enjoys time spent in the sun, large cups of coffee, and the pursuit of a handmade home.