Jessica Wilson started weaving in 2014 with a cardboard loom and a pile of yarn. What began as a creative outlet has now become both a passion and a business.
Rediscovering an ancient art for the modern home.
Every fringe and loop she makes tells a story, creating a connection through thousands of years of craft and creativity. Her weavings are a reflection of this rich history, which she hopes, will happily find a place in your home.
QUESTION & ANSWER WITH JESSICA
Why are you passionate about weaving?
I’ve always really loved history and even have my degree in anthropology. One of the things I love about weaving is that it’s a craft that has existed for thousands of years, that really hasn’t changed that much during all that time. The basic over and under of the weft over the warp is the same, we just add our own personalities and style to it and maybe use different types of looms.
It’s sort of a strange beautiful connection with our ancestors.
When were you introduced to weaving?
My very first attempt at weaving was an art project in a middle school art class. We used cardboard looms and I remember thinking, even then, how much I loved weaving. I was maybe 11 or 12 at the time so while I enjoyed that project I didn’t think it was something I would ever get to do again. I always found myself drawn though to woven goods as I got older. Then a few years ago, I started seeing woven wall hangings by Maryanne Moodie popping up on Pinterest. As soon as I saw them something clicked in my mind and I realized weaving was actually something I could do again. I stubbornly put off learning how to weave for a while because I was afraid I wouldn’t be very good at it. I didn’t like starting projects I might not be good at right away (which is kind of a silly way to live). Thanks to weaving, I’ve gotten over a lot of that fear and I am so much more willing to just try something and then discipline myself to keep trying and learn over time. Weaving has been a really wonderful way for me to express myself and find a creativity in myself that I didn’t know I had.
What inspired you to open shop?
I opened my shop the way I think a lot of creatives do; I realized I was making a ton of woven wall hangings and I needed more room on my walls!
How do you generate new ideas?
One of my biggest inspirations is nature, specifically sunsets and nature photography. I save a lot of photos that inspire me in a collection on Instagram and a board on Pinterest. I regularly go back and look at both of them for inspiration. By doing that I’ve realized which colors I’m drawn to and what kind of shapes I’m inspired by. I also keep a sketchbook with me all the time. I don’t always follow my sketches exactly but it helps me to have my ideas in one place so I can use that as a springboard once I start creating a piece. And that way I don’t forget the idea I had while walking around Target or waiting to get my oil changed.
How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Sometimes I can tell an idea is worth pushing through even if I get stuck on it. I’ve been really inspired by weavers like Sarah Neubert and Ellen Bruxvoort who talk about “showing up at the loom.” They’ve inspired me to just keep showing up, keep creating, and keep weaving even if I’m not in love with it anymore. After pushing through that process I usually love the wall hanging all over again or at least feel grateful and pleased that it is completed.
I’ve never regretted showing up
and disciplining myself to finish a piece.
There have been a few times where I can just tell that I’m done with an idea and it’s time is up. I’ve only cut a few weavings off my loom, but I think each one was a good choice. Sometimes an idea is just not worth pursuing and it’s better to start fresh. Other times if you sit with it for a while, you can start to feel new inspiration and drive. I think you really just have to feel it out and see what works best in each situation.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
I had to completely restart a piece once because I was struggling so much with creating a circle. I had planned on the weaving being large (at least 2 feet wide) but I was having so much trouble – even after taking out large sections of yarn and reweaving them – that I decided to take everything off that loom and start over on a much smaller scale. It was humbling, but I think a good reminder of how important it is to develop your skills, learn, and know your craft. My smaller attempt turned out really well. It ended up being one of my favorite woven walling hangings that I’ve made so far.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
My most satisfying business moment so far was probably my very first piece that I sold. It was a commission from an Instagram follower of an earlier space inspired weaving that I made for my sister for Christmas. I felt so excited to know that my work was striking a chord with people and was something they would love to have in their homes. That’s my hope for all my woven wall hangings. I want them to be something that people feel good about having in their home and something that adds beauty to where they live.
What are your non-work habits that help you with your work-life balance?
One thing that really helps me is learning to rest. I take breaks from social media and try to practice self-care. I’m learning to listen to my body and rest when I need to. I work full time plus I have my weaving and everything that goes with that, like my shop and social media on the side. It gets to be a lot! I remember one blogger’s post that really resonated with me. She was talking about learning to rest and deciding that if she was tired, rather than making herself more tired by pushing herself to complete a task, she took a nap. What a crazy revelation, just take a break, take a nap, get some rest and then try again.
Taking social media breaks is probably the single biggest thing I’ve done that helps me. I find that it alleviates a lot of the self imposed pressure of always wanting to seem like you’re creating and coming up with new and amazing ideas. It also helps me to not compare myself to others online or get into a super competitive mindset. As a creative you want to constantly be creating and showing those creations because that’s part of having an online presence and finding customers. It’s also really exhausting.
I believe in the value of community and community over competition.
There’s enough out there for everyone; we don’t need to knock each other down in order to succeed. It’s lonely enough as a creative and small business owner without pushing away the other people who “get it.”
Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years? The next ten years?
I haven’t thought five or ten years ahead yet, but I do know that this year I want to start challenging myself with my weaving style and see where it takes me. I have some really interesting ideas running around my head (and my sketchbook) that I can’t wait to get out of my head and into the real world.
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