This week Steph & Dani flew to Cardiff, Wales to meet up with Laura Thomas, an established woven textile artist and designer who produces striking textile artworks for public spaces, corporate environments, exhibitions and private homes. Laura also offers consulting on woven textiles and she creates her own woven fabrics at her loom at home.
Our intention to meet up with Laura was to find out whether Laura could potentially design and produce some hand woven fabrics for us which we can use for the slipper as well as for the cuff. Our idea is to create a dynamic, soft and stretchy fabric that’s potentially Lyrca based, made with natural fibres and bold colors for the slipper. We want the slipper to feel like a sock. Then to have a cuff with a slouchy feel to it and a trendy pattern to complement the slipper.
It was really lovely meeting Laura and being able to see a loom in action and even try out a loom ourselves. We learnt that Laura’s loom was hooked up to a computer, so the shaft bars of the loom can be configured in a way to create a specific pattern. We had to move the loom pedals with our foot to move the shaft bars, then move the shuttle with the yarn across from the left to the right, then pull the beater up and down once we were finished creating a new row and then move the shuttle back from the right to the left again. The process of weaving feels very rhythmic and therapeutic. You can see Steph and Dani on the loom, looking like professional wannabe weavers.
Laura shared with us the variety of fabrics she created in the past on the loom, with many patterns being used for Welsh blanket weaving. Some fabrics that Laura created were designs that Laura came up with when trying to break the rules of traditional weaving. Laura shared with us a few exciting techniques she experimented with in the past, everything from brushing a fabric, to using two different textiles together that behave similarly to create a different effect on the inside of the fabric than on the outside.
During our meeting with Laura we got a better understanding of the processes involved from creating a fabric to getting larger quantities produced by mills. We learnt that there are different types of mills such as silk, wool and cotton mills. Laura has relationships with mills in the UK and can help us find the best match as well as assist in communicating the technical details of our selected materials to the mill.
We asked Laura to create some bespoke woven textile samples for us to choose from for our upper and slipper over the next coming weeks. We will keep you updated on the fabric we decide on for our first slipper.
Laura also exhibits some of her art with woven fabrics at exhibitions around the UK. You can see some of Laura’s art here:
Whilst we were in Wales we also met up with Corgi Hosiery, which is a luxury cashmere sock and knitwear manufacturer. We wanted to look behind the scenes of a manufacturing business to see some of the processes involved, find out just how big their warehouse is and how much sales they have a year to get an idea of what to expect when setting up our own warehouse in the future.
Corgi has just received royal endorsement by receiving the Welsh Royal Majesty Seal of Approval. We learnt that Prince Charles had designed the regimental sock collection for Corgi.
It was fascinating to see the processes involved in creating socks, starting out with the machine creating a sock without toes first, team members hand sewing the toe of the sock and upper together, to socks being washed, dried and stamped.
It was amazing to learn just how detailed and delicate the process of manufacturing high quality socks is. We let the images speak for itself.