When you think about the items that fill an ideal home or the accessories you adorn yourself with, most of them are there for an aesthetic value rather than a functional one. And that is perfectly okay. In a world that holds functionality in high regard, the value of fine art and its various forms become dismissed as luxury for the few. This creates a deeply ironic scenario, since it is widely believed that viewing and creating beautiful crafts and art yield therapeutic, healing effects for a disordered mind. This sounds like a perfect antidote to the stress and anxiety in the modern world.
If you happen to be one of those in need of soul nourishment, head over to @allyrous on Instagram and you will be truly fascinated with the display of colourful, richly textured weavings with seemingly disordered but distinctive organic shapes.
Looking at these woven pieces may not satisfy you — you just want to brush your fingers against these comfy fibres and experience all the pleasant tactile sensations. The proud owner of this beautiful feed, Allyson Rousseau, is an extremely talented Fibre Artist and Designer based out of Montréal, Québec. Allyson owns a website where you can purchase her weavings that come in many forms: wall hangings, brooches, magnets, necklaces, and many more. I managed to contact Allyson, who was so kind to share with us the design processes and creative influences behind her fun and quirky weavings:
Hi Allyson! Tell us more about your background and your fibre designing journey.
I am a Canadian Fibre Artist and Designer based out of Montréal, Québec. I have been weaving for nearly five years now, with the past year being my first year as a full-time weaver. I’m formally trained in various skills such as woodworking, welding, etc. As for my weaving practice, I am completely self-taught.
I began seriously working with textiles and fibres during my undergrad while studying Studio Art at the University of Guelph. Since my focus was in Drawing and Sculpture in my final year of study, weaving and working with fibre became a part of my practice without me realizing it. Some of the first pieces that I wove were actually made for a conceptual Drawing project. Not surprisingly, I struggled to convince my Instructor that a weaving can be considered a drawing, but I think at that point I was starting to become aware that weaving was something that I wanted to pursue further.
What sparked your interest in fibre art and designing?
I was first introduced to contemporary weaving through LA-based artist Mimi Jung. I stumbled upon an online artist feature of hers and was so amazed by her work that I became really interested in learning how to weave. I received my first loom as a gift that Christmas, and began to learn through self teaching and experimentation. As I began school and became increasingly more active in my artistic practice, my existing design interests continued to expand and develop into other mediums.
Your designs are so minimal yet quirky and fun! What is the typical creative process your designs go through?
My creative process tends to vary depending on each piece or project. Typically, I begin by sketching out the details of an idea in my head. The most reliable way for me to verify the success or functionality of an idea is to start building it with my hands, and working reductively as I get to know the idea in its physical form. This allows me to adapt to the needs of the piece that I may not have been able to foresee if I had planned the design prior to getting started.
The first step in the creative process for any piece is deciding the size of the piece so that I can warp and prepare the loom. Next, I choose the colours and the materials that I want to use or test out. A somewhat vague idea in mind helps guide me in the next step, which is the design. I visually calculate where I want to create space for each element of colour, and I work around that and it progresses from there.
Who are your creative influences and how do they inspire you?
I have many creative influences- and they may not necessarily be people. However, a few textile artists that I look up to are: Mimi Jung, Sheila Hicks, and Annie Albers. Their bodies of work, accompanied by their seemingly relentless energy to continue creating even in the later years of their lives, impresses me a great deal. The drive of these women to continue learning about their craft- even beyond achieving “master” status, had been very motivating for me in the early years of my own practice.
Out of all your pieces, is there a particular piece of wearable that you have been reaching out for all the time?
The newer brooches that I have made are definitely my go-to wearable weave right now. I don’t wear my work too often though, or anyone else’s for that matter! My wardrobe and interest in accessorizing is quite minimal and serves more of a functional purpose rather than one of expressing style. I guess I can live vicariously through my customers in this way, because I am designing wearable pieces that are all style and no function!
Do you have any advice for people who interested in learning or specializing in fibre designing?
The major piece of advice that I can give right now is to experiment with your hands! Sure, you can take a workshop or read a book, or ask another artist how they do something, but the most valuable knowledge and experience is learned through personal exploration. Weaving is hands-on and tactile, so the learning process should be the same. This is also how you develop your own interests, style, and ultimately, original works of art or whatever else you are creating.
Shop Allyson’s work here.
Allyson’s website provides free shipping worldwide for all available work. The listed price (in Canadian Dollars) of each work reflects its total cost to the customer. Customers who want their order tracked will be further advised on additional tracking costs.
Photos of products belong to Allyson Rousseau.