Hello! I’m Jen Whitcomb, the fiber artist and maker behind Hawk + Owl Weaving Co. I weave in my sunny home studio in the Blue Ridge Mountains of SW Virginia. I’m so happy to talk to you today about my creative process and general love for one of my favorite crafts in the world: weaving!
My weaving process is inspired by the many things happening around me: the colorful flowers and trees in my yard, my children’s artwork, picture books that I read to them, modern art, and my imagination. Each weaving is different and takes shape organically. Often I will sit down at my loom and have a certain pattern or design in mind, and then halfway through, I’ll find that I’ve gone in another direction! I like things like that; it’s all a part of the process.
My woven wall hangings are created on wooden hand looms of varying sizes. Each new weaving project begins with me warping the loom with cotton warp thread. Each string must be kept taut so there is even pressure distributed throughout the loom, otherwise my pattern might not stay true once my weaving is cut off the loom.
I use a wide variety of fibers when creating a woven wall hanging, from alpaca wool roving to hand-dyed cotton and wool yarn, rope, metallic thread and linen. I gravitate towards neon colors and interesting textures, in particular. I’m always perusing my local fiber shop for new and exciting indie dyers!
Perhaps my most favorite thing about weaving is the simple, repetitive motion of wrapping my yarn over and under the warp threads on my loom. It’s amazing how my mind relaxes and focuses on that recursive motion. It is one of the most effective ways I’ve found, as a wife, mother and maker, to tune out everything else around me, and to be present and focused on something in my hands. Whether my weaving session lasts 10 minutes or 10 hours, I always leave my studio feeling better than I did when I arrived.
Each woven shape I create, each fluffy cloud of roving, each knotted length of rya (fringe) on my weaving is carefully tied off on the back of the loom before I can cut my complete piece off the loom. Once that step is complete, I cut each warp thread off at the very bottom of the loom and knot them together. I then carefully lift my completed piece off the loom and loop a natural wooden dowel through the remaining length of warp threads at the top of my weaving. At that point, my weaving is done and is ready to be hung and enjoyed!