"The distraction that weaving offered me during those dark times was a lifesaver." – falling into severe depression during her pregnancy days, weaving became Sara Morton's (as she aptly puts it) beacon through the fog and connected her back to her creative roots. With a background in textile design, Sara was exposed to weaving since university, but only rekindled this passion while coming across a wall hanging on the Internet one day. Never did she image that, it became something that helped turn her life around. Sara now sells her beautiful colored pattern weaves on her online shop and have a vision to build an organisation dedicated to combining fibre crafts with mental health treatment. Read more of her inspiring story below.
1. Tell us more about your background and what led you to choosing weaving as a craft?
As a kid, I was always very creative and spent a lot of time doodling incredibly detailed and colourful patterns. This love for pattern led me to take a university degree in textile design where I was taught the fundamentals of the textile disciplines such as print, knitting and weaving. Although I loved the course, I worked myself to a point of burn out. As a result I left the course after the first year and went to travel, and eventually made the decision not to continue my studies. Life took lots of crazy turns and 10 years later I found myself with a degree in environmental science (talk about a change of direction!), a loving partner and baby in my belly.
It should have been an incredibly happy time, but whilst pregnant I developed severe antenatal depression and anxiety. There were days when I couldn't even leave my bedroom to go make a cup of tea because I was so terrified of having panic attack. I was scrolling on my phone one day and came across a handmade wallhanging. It sounds ridiculous, but it was like seeing a beacon through the fog.... somehow I just KNEW I had to get back to weaving and that it was going to become something really important to me. I ordered a loom then and there, and even emailed the supplier to ask how quickly she could ship it. I must have sounded crazy, but I was that desperate to get started.
The distraction that weaving offered me during those dark times was a lifesaver. After the birth of my beautiful son, I was fortunate that my depression started to lift, and I had even more energy to weave. Now a year on, I can't imagine my life without it. It's connected me back to the roots of who I am, a creative.
2. What makes you a KOEL kid?
What sets me apart from the rest? That's a tough one... I guess I try to be fearless with colour. I like to take a bunch of colours that you wouldn't expect to see together and try to make them work – sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't!
There is a playful element in a lot of my work, and I try to make it a little bit surprising. I want it to catch you off guard and make you smile. I want the colours to give you a distinct emotion and draw your eye back again and again.
3. Share with us the creative process behind each of your project.
For me, it always starts with colour. It sounds odd, but I can listen to music and see distinct colours depending on the sound. Often when I am out running, listening to my ipod, a sequence of colours will come into my head and I'll have to make a mental note of it until I get home.
I find that once I have a palette sorted, the design just kind of flows... the shapes, the composition, it all happens intuitively based on which colours I feel need to be next to one another. Sometimes I will sketch a loose idea, but once I start weaving I rarely stick to the plan. In saying that though, sketching can be useful if my brain in too overloaded with ideas. Putting them on paper seems to free up mental space and let me focus on the task at hand.
4. Pick one of your favourite designs and answer these quick questions.
The inspiration behind this design is... Retro ski wear!!
The dream store in which I would like to stock this design is... Safari Living Melbourne
Which celebrity house can you picture your design at... Well it's named 'Torah' after the amazing Aussie snowboarder Torah Bright. So I'll say her!
If this design made it big, I would... try and get it made into a jumper (sweater)!! And then wear it all winter!
If this design could talk, it would say... "I'd love to keep your wall cosy!"
5. Great things take time, so how much has changed since you first started weaving and where do you see it in the next five years?
I follow A LOT of weavers and fibre artists on Instagram, and something I've noticed is that people are increasingly using the medium and this platform to share personal struggles and triumphs, and I find that really special. The online weaving community is so incredibly supportive and caring that it creates a safe space for people to say "You know what, I'm really struggling with some stuff right now and my creative process is suffering" or "I started weaving this piece and couldn't stop crying, but now I feel so much better". It is such a healing craft that it doesn't surprise me that people turn to it in tough times. Creating something from raw materials gives you such a sense of purpose, especially when everything around you is uncertain. In the next few years I'd love to see an organisation dedicated to combining fibre crafts with mental health treatment..... perhaps it already exists? Perhaps I should create one!
Photo Credits: Sara Morton