Here at Glasshouse we consider ourselves very lucky to have such a range of inspiring and creative clients. Every so often we can’t help ourselves from investigating a little further into the craft of someone that catches our eye, as was the case with weaver and Glasshouse regular Vija Rhodes. We spoke to her about her process, materials and how it all began.
Contemporary and minimalist whilst demonstrating unique, bespoke craftsmanship, the woven textiles created by Vija in her Victoria Park studio range from wall hangings to materials for one-off garments. We were drawn to her pared-back style and find similarities to both Scandinavian and Japanese design in her aesthetic.
She first started weaving around nine years ago towards the end of her last year of studying illustration at Camberwell College of Arts: “I was given a table loom. The college had been clearing out the old textile rooms and these beautiful little looms were suddenly dotted around the studio.” says Vija “I was intrigued so asked my tutor if I could have one - he said yes”. Vija committed to weaving full time about two years ago, after doing it around her previous job as a menswear photographer.
From start to finish, the process of crafting a woven textile seems (to us novices) complex and a little unpredictable but Vija says this is all part of it’s charm: “Part of the beauty of weaving is that it is very rare that things run smoothly from start to finish. In reality, each day at the loom can bring new challenges.” she says “Variables such as the swelling and contraction of the wooden loom due to the weather, fine tuning of moving parts, the effect of humidity - all these factors play a large role in a day’s work. The slightest changes, a weaver’s body growing tired towards the end of the day for example, are forever written in the weaving, thus making each piece unique.”
Vija uses natural fibres for her textiles, ranging from linen, hemp and wool from the UK and Europe to small batch specialist yarns from Japan, such as persimmon-dyed silk and cotton gima (a cotton material that feels like linen but softens greatly as soon as it’s handled or washed).
“Both wall hangings and cloth are treated in the same way, as drawings, where the warp and weft are woven in plain weave enabling pattern and texture to naturally occur through the carefully chosen raw materials which work alongside my intentional mark making. The yarns for the wall hangings are mostly hand spun and hand dyed”.
Working collaboratively with a pattern cutter and tailor, Vija creates one-off hand woven and hand-stitched garments, whilst her wall hangings and blanket scarves are commission pieces usually ordered through her website. The latter are also stocked in a Shoreditch-based store, Timothy Everest.
Musing on a growing demand for hand-crafted, artisan goods, Vija believes it’s a natural progression: “Handcrafted products have always been there but now they have become more accessible. The rise in popularity is in the ability to now be able to see the process behind each object being made rather than just the finished piece. Each one has a unique story and bears the makers mark.” We couldn’t agree more, and what a beautifully woven story indeed.
Words: Rosie Herdman