This month we meet Jess from York Place Woven Art. Jess lives in Melbourne and tapestry weaving is her thing. One of the things I love most about Jess's work is the glorious use of colour and textures that you find within her pieces.
For some colour can be daunting, but I feel Jess has a special way of putting it all together in a natural and flawless way. As a customer, Jess is a real joy because her orders are such fun to put together. She is not afraid to try new fibres and there is always loads of colour and a great mix of materials and textures. I am often guessing if they are all for the same project or for many. I would never know because I feel she could find a way to bring any combination together. For the past year or so I have loved watching Jess grow as an artist, her pieces got bigger, she played around with various shapes and designs and through all this she has developed her own signature style.
I have always admired those who can find inspiration from absolutely anywhere and when you visit @yorkplacewovenart on Instagram you will see that Jess has the ability to find beauty in the most fun and unexpected places. Her incredible talent and vision are why so many people are finding joy in her pieces across Melbourne and the world. I believe you may just reach your fibre goals Jess and I am hoping to one day see a hybrid street feature with your name on it.
Lets go meet Jess from York Place Woven Art.
Tell us in a few sentences a little bit about yourself:
Hi, I’m Jess from York Place Woven Art! I’m born and raised in Melbourne and live in an inner urban hotpot of music, art and architecture, which all inform my work. I’ve long been obsessed with travelling and seeing new things so I’ve been lucky to live abroad at different stages of my life. I always feel the pull to come back to Melbourne though!
Like a lot of creatives, I do have a ‘day job’ alongside my art. I’ve spent the last 16 years working in corporate and start-up environments where communications and PR is my jam. It’s more than just paying the bills - I really do love it. But I find my way back to weaving every hour outside of work. It’s my happy place and I’m obsessed with the endless possibilities fibre can create.
How long have you been creating?
I feel like I’ve always had a creative outlet. Growing up around my very creative mum and my crafty Nana meant I was always encouraged to make something for myself, what ever that might be. I first found fibre art during art classes at high school, but I didn’t explore it on my own until I was in my thirties! It took me a while to feel like I found my own voice with it, but since then I’ve been completely hooked.
How/Why did you get into it?
A little while ago I had a few turbulent years personally and coming out of that I felt I’d lost the creative spirit that I’d always identified with. I went on a bit of a mission to get that back and fibre art became both my therapy and a whole new open door. Finding your own craft and your own voice means you invite a whole new community into your life - people who love the same thing you do! Whether it’s people who enjoy seeing your work, collecting pieces, or people like Sarah who provide some of the beautiful supplies to work with; this is what makes me continue.
What are your future fibre goals?
In an ideal world, I’ll buy a little country house and spend all my time weaving! In the meantime though, I would love to have a gallery showing one day. That’d be a pretty amazing experience.
What is it about fibre art that makes you love it the way you do?
I can get in my head sometimes and have a tendency to overthink things - so weaving gives me a perfect break from that. I find it really meditative because I’m using my hands and body in a way that needs my attention. In weaving, you need to find a balance between being fully present and not trying to overly control what the piece wants to do. For me, hours can disappear without a worry and that’s pretty addictive!
What is your most challenging piece to date? Pics would be amazing.
Last year I made a piece called ‘Bonfire’, a piece largely compiled of circular sections using only soumak woven roving. Those who use roving in a similar way will know it can challenge the structural integrity of the piece if you don’t ‘lock’ it into the weave well, so I didn’t know if the design concept would work. In the end, I came up with some ways of making it hold strong and it resulted in one of my favourite pieces! Funnily enough, it’s also the piece I’ve booked commissions from the most and it’s ended up being a bit of a signature style for me.
How have you learnt your craft - self-taught, workshops, books, online tutorials?
There are so many great resources around and I’ve certainly looked to a variety of them to learn different techniques! I always seem to learn best by doing it myself rather than reading instructions so I’m mostly self taught. Videos are a great way of seeing the intricacies of techniques though, so I have gone down some pretty deep YouTube rabbit holes over the years!
Do you have a favourite book or tutorial you would recommend?
I really recommend the online tutorials of people like Kelly Casanova, Jenell Flynn (@SpruceAndLinen) and Lindsey Campbell (@HelloHydrangea); if you want to learn great tips definitely check them out! If you’re completely new to weaving and need a starting point, Anne Weil’s book ‘Weaving Within Reach’ teaches a number of approachable projects using different methods across both wall art and other woven homewares.
Is there a fibre artist that inspires you the most?
The way that Jen Duffin (@NovaMercury) and Judit Just (@_jujujust_) use colour is so inspiring! Jen and Judit are not afraid to go wild with colour combinations, textures and creating bold statements with their art. We all have very different outcomes, but I think the expression of joy in colour is a passion we all share.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about getting into the craft but isn’t sure?
Sometimes the biggest hurdle to just ‘giving it a go’ can be the financial expense of investing in something when you’re not sure will be a long term passion. For photography you need a camera, for woodworking you need some tools. Weaving can be incredibly approachable though. My first loom was a picture frame I hammered nails into and I just used whatever wool or acrylics I could find in charity shops or dollar stores! If you’re keen, just try it and it might just change you forever.
What is your favourite knot/technique to do? Why
I love creating curves with soumac weave... it adds a particular flow to a piece in a way that I don’t get from other weaving techniques. And it shows off the beautiful textures in the materials too because it ends up being such a feature of the design.
What is your favourite VADA BLUE fibre to use and why?
Well it’s probably obvious I love the roving!! The colour selections that Vada Blue has are incredible. I also really love using the Khadi and Aari ribbons too. Using the textures of these ribbons together with the softness of merino rovings and wools brings a whole new depth to the overall look.
Please share one random/ interesting fact about you.
My favourite art to view or own isn’t in the fibre art world... it’s actually street art! Maybe it’s the Melbournian in me, but street art has been a huge inspiration for my pieces. In any new city, I’ll figure out where I can see local work and both my camera roll and bookshelf are full of amazing references. The sense of freedom, colour, self expression and storytelling in street art is what I seek to create in my own art. I would absolutely love to do a hybrid installation with a street artist one day - where we can combine both and bounce off each other.
Images from top left - right, bottom left - right
Watermelon Sorbet, Autumn, Banksia
Sand & Sea, Bonfire @ Little Lady Blooms, Jess with her latest creation