Interview with weaver maryanne moodie
What were you doing this time ten years ago?
I’d just moved back from living in London and travelling around Europe. I was falling in love with Melbourne again. Teaching art, paying off debts and spending my time reconnecting with family and friends. I met my husband, Aaron, around this time and fell in love.
When did you first pick up a loom?
I had burned out from teaching art for ten years and decided to have a baby. While I was cleaning out the storeroom, I found an old loom. I rescued it in the hope that it would keep my hands busy while I awaited my babe. I didn’t have any yarn at home and just used jute and some waxed cord. I made some swatches of fabric and then hand-sewed little zippers to make coin purses and pencil cases. I gave them out as gifts and it helped me feel reconnected to my friends and family.
What excites you about creating?
I love the conversation I have with myself while I’m in the zone working on a piece. A combination of meditation and art therapy. Little thoughts bubble up as my hands are busy and I gently allow them to float on by. The ones that keep popping up help me figure out what conversations I need to be having with myself and my art.
What was the last piece you made?
I’ve recently completed a collection for an exhibition that explored the concept of home and homecoming. We moved back to Australia after living in New York City, and moving was such a lovely, soft moment in our family life. Like a big Aussie hug. Life suddenly felt a lot cleaner, easier and friendlier. The pieces had a real softness and gentleness to them.
Why did you move back to Melbourne from Brooklyn?
So that our boys could go to school here. We felt it was important for our kids to grow up identifying as Aussies. Most of my work, however, remains in the US, so we decided to leave the studio open and running in Brooklyn for the moment. I travel back to the US a few times a year to check in on the studio and teach classes.
Who’s in your family?
Aaron, my husband, and our two little monsters: Murray, four, and Rudi, two.
How has living in Brooklyn rubbed off on you?
Visiting New York is like being tickled, and living in New York can be like being tickled too much. It’s awesome and exciting but it can be overwhelming, too. I love the way people in New York are willing to collaborate and connect. Brooklyn was a hive of creative souls and I made some really exciting friendships with lots of very cool folks. It felt like anything was possible!
What’s been the greatest challenge of juggling family and your growing business?
I’ve never really felt challenged. We have a community of people around our little family who love and support us. We feel very lucky that we have the flexibility to grow and change as needs arise.
Do you still weave every day?
YES! Every day. It’s still my passion as well as my job. I’m usually working on a few things at once. I recently finished fifteen pieces for an exhibition, two giant pieces for the US Department of State’s Art in Embassies program, a collection for a boutique hotel in Barcelona and two private commissions for US clients. I always have three or four looms on the go at the same time.
You have experienced some great press. Can you tell us how this has changed the course of your career?
I’m not a planner. When I started weaving, I had no plans other than to weave. The business grew very organically. I was weaving away and making gifts for my mates when Lucy from The Design Files happened upon my work. She wrote about me on her blog, which is where Megan Morton found me. She noticed I was a teacher and asked me to teach some classes at The School. I curated kits and a curriculum for teaching weaving. People started to ask if they could purchase the kits and looms, so I worked with a manufacturer to design and make my looms and tools. After that, customers started to ask for a book or an online course, so we produced both of those. I still have no plans. I just like to have my eyes and ears open and listen to my community. It’s worked for me so far!
Do you feel successful?
Yes. In our family, we’re always checking in to see if everyone is happy. If someone is not happy, then we try to change things up until everyone is happy. It’s the most important thing. When I feel happy and my family is happy, I feel successful.
Do you love every piece you make?
Yes. They are like little children that I put so much time and thought and energy into.
How long on average does a piece take to make?
Usually a few days for an average piece. Sometimes I can work for weeks on a really big, complicated piece.
Do your children influence your work?
They influence the amount of time I can spend on my work!
What’s been the most challenging part of your weaving journey?
I really love my community of weavers and creative women. I used to reply to every comment and really make sure I was connecting with everyone. But a couple of years ago, I realised I was spending too much time locked into Instagram and not enough time connecting with my boys. I’d be pushing them on a swing with one hand and tapping away on Instagram with the other hand. I was not giving either my boys or my business my full attention. So now I read every comment, but I make sure to create a family–work balance. I try to leave my phone in my pocket.
Why did you decide to write a book?
My weaving community had been asking for a book. There were lots of complicated vintage books but nothing in current print. Abrams Books approached me and asked if I would consider writing a book on weaving, so I created a list of projects that would both appeal to non-weavers and inspire weavers to get out of their comfort zone and try something new.
You were once a full-time art teacher. Can you tell us a little about that and how that now influences your current job?
I loved teaching until I burned out and thought I would never teach again. You would assume that being an art teacher is a creative job, but you spend your whole time trying to inspire creativity in others without nurturing your own inner artist. I was empty by the time I left teaching. But after weaving for a year, I was so passionate about it and my well was overflowing that it made me want to teach again. I love teaching now; it’s my favourite part of the job. I get to connect with other weavers and we support and inspire one another.
What would you say to someone who wants to weave but is intimidated because they’re a beginner?
I have created so many ways for people to feel supported to join the weaving community. Buy my book or join my online course. I sell looms and kits and everything you need. I am a one-stop shop for the weaving-curious.