Brooklyn-based Australian weaver Maryanne Moodie combines her innovative work in textile design with teaching fiber art workshops, curating weaving kits for beginners, and recently publishing a new book. Her all-around creative (and sustainable!) lifestyle is inspiring to women around the world who wish to live their artistic dreams, especially to mothers of young children as she sets an example for being a caring, working mama. In this interview, she gives us a glimpse into this colorful world.
Kathryn: Let’s start by talking about your weaving work. Why did you select this as your primary medium?
Maryanne: Something about weaving just spoke to me. I found a loom and taught myself from vintage books. A light just switched on when I started weaving. It felt like I was coloring with yarn. I was able to be creative in a really structured way or to go totally off plan and create really organic pieces that broke all of the “rules.” I have done weavings as small as a 2” x 1” necklace and as large as an 8’ x 12’ art piece.
Kathryn: You have a number of inspirations for your work, one of which is vintage textiles. In what ways do you think the work of previous generations is important today?
Maryanne: I love the stories that can be found in the materials and textiles that have come from past generations. You see those stories in the physical clues – a button replaced here, or a seam let out there – places where someone has loved something so much that they have repaired it instead of replacing it. I love this!
“Maryanne attributes her stunning tapestries and quirky creations to the meditative feeling it invokes while she works, which allows her to remain perfectly present in the process.” – CreatedHere
Kathryn: Before you began this creative weaving journey, you were a teacher, right? How has that influenced your path?
Maryanne: I was a teacher for 10 years before I started teaching weaving. I have always loved teaching, and I consider myself a teacher before I see myself as a weaver. Weaving is something that I am passionate about and get great pleasure from, and so I am able to use my expertise in education to share this passion with others. I do love the art of weaving, but the best and most important part of my work is in education. The love and inspiration and energy that I get from my students is the most important part in moving this craft forward and creating newness.
Kathryn: One of the ways that you educate is through your workshops. I picture these classes being fabulous female bonding experiences where women take risks in creative expression. What is it really like?
Maryanne: That is totally what it is like! One student said to me that it felt like the old tradition of a women’s circle where grandmothers, aunties, and female members of the community come together to share ideas and skills and to bond with one another. The experience is everything. I always feel energized after teaching. There is no competition amongst the crafters; everyone is inspired by each other. Everyone is soft and sharing. It is truly the best!
Kathryn: What is something you have learned from the students?
Maryanne: I always get inspired when people really push themselves. I love to see a perfectionist allow room for one mistake in their piece to let that wabi-sabi handmade quality to come through. I love seeing a free spirit who has a no-worries personality go back and fix mistakes. I love when someone does a stitch backwards and accidentally “invents” a new stitch. I love when people surprise themselves with the unexpected.
Kathryn: And now through your book you can teach more people in a new way. What can you tell us about that?
Maryanne: My book (On The Loom: A Modern Weaver’s Guide) is a nice little tome that both welcomes new weavers into the fold as well as pushes experienced weavers into projects off the traditional loom. I teach how to create circular looms, found looms and your own materials to weave from. It is a very eco-conscious book about how to use the objects and materials already in your life to create newness.
Kathryn: Sustainability is important to you; you both use and sell sustainable materials. What does this word mean to you?
Maryanne: It means that the next generation will not be in a worse position from the effects of the decisions that I make in my personal or business life. I choose recycled or handmade items and support small, local businesses. I believe in making choices in a really conscious and holistic way that is not just about the financial bottom line but about what is good for all in the long run.
Kathryn: And speaking of that next generation … How has it been working as an artist/ teacher while also being a mother to young children?
Maryanne: I have two boys, and it has been amazing. I am able to work around the kids’ timetable. I do weaving during naps and schedule studio time or meetings during school hours. Sure, I have been known to turn up to the studio with food in my hair, but I think that is acceptable in the juggle and the struggle!
Kathryn: Definitely! It sounds like a great opportunity to model an emphasis on the importance of relationships over appearance. What else do you hope to teach your children?
Maryanne: We do a lot of work on empathy – looking into someone’s face (whether in real life or in books) and figuring out what they are feeling, noticing when something changes and trying to figure out what caused that change. I hope that teaching them the subtlety of human experience and emotional intelligence will help them top be soft and accepting in this sometimes-crazy world.
Kathryn: What an important, special thing to share. And thank you for sharing all of this with us today! Let’s end by paying it forward … who is one of your female role models?
Maryanne: I love Tanya Aguiniga! She is an amazing artist and person who is very interested in building and supporting community and raising awareness of women’s issues.
Explore Maryann’s creative works on her beautiful Instagram page. Keep updated on her inspirations and activities through Tumblr. And learn more about her from her terrific podcast interview on The Jealous Curator.
All photos courtesy of Maryanne Moodie