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Emma Simmonds, pupil of Jan Shenton at Loughborough University, tells Textilesnaturales of her weave, design and production experience during her internship year

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Emma Simmonds 600 pix plus eng textEmma Simmonds, second-year textile student at Loughborough University, and pupil of Jan Shenton (author of the new book on weave design) tells us about her weave degree course and her work experience placements, including in north Spain with Anna Champeney Estudio Textil.  

You´re actually studying weave as a university degree at Loughborough.  Can you tell us, in a nutshell, what the course consists of.  What do you think a degree gives you that unofficial learning doesn´t?

The course I am studying is Textiles: Innovation and Design and is run over three years. The first is an introduction into the three possible specialisms. It is also a chance to practice drawing, design and colour skills.

Our second year is spent learning and practicing our chosen specialism, which could be print, weave or multimedia.

I have taken the woven textile route, and in this year I learnt the entire process of weaving, from drafting, dying and setting up a loom through to weaving and finishing fabrics. We are given the chance to experiment with multiple warps of different threading structures and various yarn types.

After the second year we have the option of taking a year out on industrial placement before returning to university to complete the final year. In this last year we will get the chance to work more independently allowing us to mature our techniques and develop our individual styles.  I think one of the benefits of doing a degree course is that it gives you the chance to spend an intense 3 years improving and learning with no boundaries.

You are completely free to develop as an artist and craftsman, giving you time and encouragement that you wouldn’t receive in industry.  It’s great to have so many facilities and highly competent tutors at your disposal and is amazing to work beside so many other creative individuals.

If I understand correctly you didn´t decide to specialise in weave until the second year.  Why did you decide on weave as opposed to knit or print?

I chose weave because I love the thought of creating a fabric from scratch.  As the designer you are in control of every element, from the weight and density of a fabric to its colour, pattern and design. I love all the processes from beginning to end and find it really rewarding when I see the final result.  I enjoy the vast possibilities of weave and am fascinated about how much there is to learn about it.

I have found it really exciting and interesting to be learning a skill that is so traditional and so fundamental to different cultures and societies.

You have spent the whole year doing work experience placements.  Can you tell us about these and what you think you gained from the experiences?

My placement year has consisted of seven different internships and each one has given me a different and invaluable view of industry and helped my development as a designer. I have worked mainly with woven textile companies but have also had the chance to explore embroidery and theatre too.  I have worked with hand weavers, designers and textile mills; each one has given me the opportunity to look at woven textiles from new angle and has led me to begin to think where I fit into it.  It has been great to work with people that have set up their own companies.

Collecting first-hand knowledge and experience has been beneficial in teaching me what goes into a successful business.

It has also been so inspiring to meet people that have followed and accomplished their dreams, giving me conviction that with hard work it is possible.

One of your last placements was at Anna Champeney Estudio Textil, a craft textile studio in northwest Spain.  Tell us what different tasks you were given.  How did the experience contrast with your other placements?

All of the other woven textile designers I have worked for produce their textiles in industrial mills.

So working with Anna was amazing to see that she has made a successful and profitable hand weaving company. I spent the majority of my time with Anna weaving products for her shop but also got to employ my Photoshop skills to help out with the marketing and promotional side.

This placement was very hands on and taught me a lot about weaving. It was great to work with Anna and learn new techniques including traditional Galician Felpa.

I think I gained a lot from her experience as a designer and business woman and its inspiring to see she has been able to maintain the integrity and love of her craft. It was also incredible to spend three weeks in such a beautiful part of the word.

I was so amazed by the scenery and culture of Cristosende and feel lucky to have been able to explore and get to know the quirky little village.

You still have one year to go in your course but you and your fellow students already have an idea about the different options for employment after you finish.  What are these and what ideas attract you in particular?

I think it is hard as a woven textile designer to place yourself in industry. I know that I don’t want to work in a big company because I have found out this year that small scale is more to my taste. I would love to start my own company and feel that this year out has equipped me with better knowledge of the running of a business to be able to do so.

I know that I love the practical side of weaving and that is something that I wouldn’t like to lose in the process. My time with Anna has shown me that this is a possibility and she has given me inspiration and advice on how to fund this and make it work.

What would you say to Spanish people who are considering the option of doing a weave degree at Loughborough?

I would say that Loughborough is a brilliant place to study. Our facilities are excellent and we have some really talented and knowledgeable tutors. It is a really thriving and lively art department, with lots to inspire and excite you.

We have ranked fourth in the country for student satisfaction and you can tell by looking around our final year show that Loughborough really pushes it students to reach their full creative potential.

What excites you most about weave?

I love the intelligence and complexity around the design process. I think it’s so exciting to design working with and pushing the possibilities on the loom.

I love the challenge of translating my designs and drawings onto a warp and using my creativity to produce it in fabric.

I like the depth and texture compared with a printed design and am blown away when I see some examples of complex and innovative weaves. It is such a long standing craft with incredibly basic roots yet it can be made modern and contempory.

Thanks for your replies Emma and Textilesnaturales wishes you the best of luck in your third year.  Keep in touch!

  • Are you a 2nd or 3rd year weave student?  Would you like to experience an internship at Anna Champeney Estudio Textil in 2015?  Email us with your cv, details of your weave experience and your reasons for wanting to come to the studio in northwest Spain.  More info here.

Hobby weaving in Spain : Baby blanket woven by Paz in Asturias

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAAt Textilesnaturales we really liked this photo sent in by Maria Paz González who weaves at home in Asturias.  Here she explains how she made it.

«Each new project I weave I like to make a bit more complex, always learning and making progress in this wonderful craft»  – Paz  

* handspun yarn
* alpaca baby (Alpacas de la Tierruca)
* Colours:  natural white and grey of the alpacas green - elderflower, blue - palo campeche, pink - cochineal
* The thick handspun yarn conditioned the design quite a lot


Weave courses and tuition in Spain with Anna Champeney Estudio Textil 




Diseño de Tejidos por Jan Shenton – Crítica y donde comprar

Diseño de Tejidos en telar por Jan Shenton 400 pixTitulo:  Diseño de Tejidos Autora:  Jan Shenton Edición:  Blume Precio:  29,90€

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!Por fin!  Un libro traducido al castellano para inspirar todas las personas en España que tienen telares y buscan más información de como diseñar y mejorar la calidad de los tejidos.

Es el único libro que conocemos aqui en textilesnaturales que sale en castellano sobre el tema del diseño contemporáneo en telar en castellano y opinamos que cada tejedor/a debe tener un ejemplar en su casa o estudio.

Este libro te abre los ojos a un mundo de posibilidades y hay fotos de tejidos muy inspiradores (incluyendo dos de Anna Champeney Estudio Textil en pags. 1118 y 135).

El libro te ayuda a entender los diferentes ligamentos (tafetán, sarga) y te inspira a experimentar con diferentes hilos y colores y jugar con distorsiones, con bastas o hilos flotantes, y efectos de color para conseguir efectos más sofisticados y interesantes.

Hasta ahora ha habido una ausencia total de libros modernos sobre el diseño de tejidos en telar de bajo lizo, lo cual explica, en parte, porque el tejido artesanal en España se ha quedado, en buena parte, muy clásico y poco innovador.  Así que, cualquier libro sobre el tema es muy bienvenida en España y otros países hispanos. Para muchos de nuestros alumnos – y tejedores profesionales – el libro es imprescindible.  Porque te abre los ojos a un montón de diferentes propuestas y elementos del diseño para la tejeduría en telar.  Además de presentar muchísima información el libro es atractivo, con muchísimas fotos de diseños realizados por diseñadores  y tejedores contemporáneos.

foto d 400 pixEl libro no pretende enseñarte a tejer;  no es un manual ni se considera un sustituto para cursos presenciales.  Ni está hecha para principiantes que no comprenden, todavía, la representación gráfica del tejido en telar.  Pero para cualquier persona que tiene un telar en casa y quiere salir del típico tejido más convencional y clásico, profundizar su conocimiento y empezar a crear tejidos realmente diferenciados, más modernos y más originales, Diseño de Tejidos es un libro esencial.

No está pensado, específicamente, para telares de 4, 8, 12 lizos.  Aunque mucha información es útil para telares de sólo 4 lizos, lo cierto es que el libro te dejará con ganas de pasar a uno de 8 (o más) lizos por las posibilidades que te dan.

¿Alguna crítica?  Pues, la traducción de los algunos términos técnicos del inglés al castellano deja algo por desear, siendo realizada (por lo que parece) por una persona que no tiene conocimiento de tejer en telar  ¿¿¿Porque Blume no se contactó con una de las numerosas tejedoras o tejedores en España para que corrigieran la traducción???  El enhebrado o remetido por los lizos se convierte en «Plan de hilado» (mal traducido del inglés threading plan;  la palabra inglesa thread sirve igual para enhebrar como hilar pero en español, no), y, peor todavía, es ver lizos escritos como «ejes» (la palabra «shaft» en inglés, es una palabra general que se usa para los lizos de un telar).  Así deja muy perpleja el lector cuando se hace referencia al telar dobby como telar de lizo, por ejemplo.  El «Plan del peine» puede resultar confuso dado que, normalmente, el peine se refiere al espaciador metálico que va incorporado en el batán, y no el pre-peine (herramienta empleada en la técnica europea de preparar el telar con los hilos de la urdimbre).

La otra critica lo escribo en forma de pregunta:  ¿Porque se reconoce la autoría de las prendas o bolsos en el libro (es decir marcas de moda)  … pero los nombres de los diseños de tejidos que salen en el libro quedan escondidos, en letra pequeña, en la parte final del libro?  Puede ser que la autora, siendo diseñadora que vende sus diseños a la moda y así está acostumbrado a ver sus diseños salir bajo el nombre de la marca, como es lógico.

Pero un libro dedicado al diseño de tejidos, ante cualquier otro libro, debe valorar y reconocer más la autoría de los diseños, tal como se ha hecho en otros libros sobre el tejido en telar, como el reconocido The Structure of Weaving por Ann Sutton (La estructura del tejido en telar). diseño textil Anna Champeney en libro de Jan Shenton Diseño de Tejidos 400 pix

Estas críticas aparte, Diseño de Tejidos es un libro atractivo y muy interesante que es lectura recomendada a todos los que tejen en casa y a nivel profesional.   Y para diseñadores de moda o diseñadores industriales que quisieran colaborar con tejedores, también les puede resultar interesante. Enlaces de interés-