Craft Platforms: Case studies Maria Sigma-a young weaver who uses a computer loom and pursues ‘zero waste’ ethical hand-woven textilesJune 22, 2020 2020-11-15 9:20
Craft Platforms: Case studies Maria Sigma-a young weaver who uses a computer loom and pursues ‘zero waste’ ethical hand-woven textiles
Maria Sigma – a young weaver who uses a computer loom and pursues 'zero waste' ethical hand-woven textiles
- Computer-assisted loom and related Weavepoint software are used in textile making process
- Design software such as Photoshop and illustrator assist in the presentation of her craft
- Maria’s personal brand website, newsletters, and social media, including Instagram, have become indispensable for advertise workshops, exhibitions and her work
- Most of her digital skills are self-taught
- Computer and Internet are essential for Maria to send emails, deal with photos and design descriptions, and keep in touch with customers all over the world
Maria is a young weaver. She created Maria Sigma | Woven Textiles, which is an award-winning textile brand specialising in ‘zero waste’ ethical hand-woven textiles for interiors based in London. She loves textiles, so she moved from Greece to London and completed a degree in Textile Design at Chelsea College of Art and Design in London. After Maria finished the course, she received the Cockpit Arts /’Clothworkers’ Award 2015 & 2016. In 2017, she secured investment support from The Prince’s Trust and Virgin Start-Up Scheme. With their support, she invested in a new floor loom which has embedded computing and weaving software in a studio space in East London.
“I wanted to set up a textile business as a weaver, and London is the best place to realise that as there are plenty opportunities such as galleries and interior designer studios, and support such as business advice and funding schemes,” said Maria.
Figure 1: Handwoven products by Maria Sigma (images are from her website)
DIGITAL ‘TOUCH POINTS’
Digital equipment and technologies, website, social media, and digital software are used by Maria in her studio (see figure 2). Although her textiles are hand-made, those digital related items have involved and assisted her craft activities.
Figure 2: Digital touchpoints used in Maria’s studio
Digital equipment and technologies
Maria has a desk computer, a laptop, a computer-assisted loom, a scanner and an iPhone in her studio. Regarding the usage of her computer in her making activities, she uses it to send emails, deal with photos and write design descriptions. She also creates newsletters and posters with her computer. The computer loom makes her work faster, and she was taught how to use it when she studied for her Textile Design degree in London. The patterns she likes to make are complicated, and the computer loom can help prevent mistakes and improve efficiency.
Figure 3: Digital equipment used in Maria’s studio
The Toika computerised loom is controlled by the latest version of Weavepoint Software and operates alongside a computer equipped with Microsoft Windows and one open USB port. The unit has a direct connection to the USB port – just plug it in, turn on the loom and then the computer and the weaver are ready to go.
“ES Computer Assist Looms are offered 16 shaft, 24 shaft and 32 shaft configurations. Traditional weaving looms are based on treadles, lamms, and jacks. The Toika ES computer assist loom replaces all of those parts with a single pedal – much like that on a sewing machine. The pedal means that the weaver requires no strain or effort to lift multiple shafts – something literally impossible to do easily with a standard loom,” said Maria.
Figure 4: ES computer-aided loom (left and middle) and Weavepoint Software used in Maria’s studio
Maria believes that her advantage is that she provides customised work. For example, if a customer would like to buy five blankets for a house, each blanket could be different. If you go to an industrial loom, people need to order minimum of over 100 pieces, and they all look the same. Of course, it would be much more expensive as it would take Maria a week to make a blanket while it just needs a couple of hours for machine-made. This is similar to the comparison between the hand-made chair and industrial-made chair.
Maria is also looking at applying laser cutting techniques to design her own loom kit for weave workshops. She is trying to find someone who can laser cut a loom frame for her, which would be cheaper and lighter than the wood one. And a lighter one would be more portable.
Figure 5: Maria’s current weaving Loom Kit
Use of website presence
Maria made her website www.mariasigma.com by herself.
She used Squarespace, which is like a ready-made platform to make a website. (Squarespace is a private American company, based in New York City, that provides software as a service for website building and hosting). It took her a while to understand and make the website, but now it is well-established.
Figure 6: The screenshot of Maria’s website
Use of social media
Maria believes it is essential to show her work many times in different channels especially in magazines and excellent exhibitions and so that she can build her credibility. By doing this people will know and trust her and finally buy her work. She prefers to use Instagram as she likes to post pictures, but she is not sure what to say. She also tries to control the amount of time spent on social media to safeguard her making time.
Figure 7: Screenshots of Maria Sigma’s Instagram page
Use of digital software
Digital software is also used in Maria’s craft activities. When sending a proposal to customers, she will use digital software (photoshop and illustrator) to make a description of the designed work and then send them to the customers. She learned the basic skills of digital software from college, and she has further developed those skills by herself. Digital software has become a useful way for Maria to better present her textiles.
Figure 8: An example of Maria’s design descriptions
Figure 9: Maria Sigma hand-weaving at The Future of Craft, Oxo Tower Wharf CREDIT: DAN WEILL
Maria emphases “zero waste” philosophy, which is not only applied in her making process but also reflected in the daily life of her studio. For example, she keeps all the cut yarn in a box and uses them for making samples or wrapping things instead of throwing them away. She came up with the “zero waste” idea when she did a project in College on sustainability. After the research, she realised how much waste is generated during making and in daily life. And, textiles are one of the biggest waste items on the planet – People buy clothes and throw them away because those clothes are out of season.
Figure 10: Cut yarn collection and more pictures of Maria’s work (images are from her website)
Maria is a young maker in London. She has a degree in Textile Design from Chelsea College of Art and Design in London. Her approach to design is based on the idea of creating beautiful functional textiles and objects through ‘zero waste’ design and craftsmanship by re-interpreting traditional craft techniques in a lively and contemporary way. With the support from the Prince’s Trust and Virgin Start-Up Scheme, she has a studio and bought a loom which embeds computing and software to help her to weave.
Commissioned work has been a part of her practice since the very beginning. She also runs workshops (training) for people, including kids and adults who are interested in weaving. She is planning to publish a weaving book and make her own weaving loom kit. She would like to make the loom kit by laser cutting, which will be cheaper and lighter. She has two laptops and one desk computer – one laptop has windows system for the software of the loom, and the other laptop is used at home. Her desk computer is mainly for dealing with emails, making products’ brochures (photoshop, illustrator). She would like to have more media exposure, which would help to promote her business.
She has an excellent website which she made it by herself using design templates. She embraces modern technologies and uses the Internet to search for information and opportunities.
Please visit the following sites to find out more about Woven Textiles:
Craftplatforms.org has been produced by the project research team at Queen Mary University of London, UK, and Hunan University, China.
Contact E-mail: email@example.com
Prof. Nick Bryan-Kinns
School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science
Queen Mary University of London
London E1 4NS
Prof. Hao Tan
School of Design, Hunan University
Yuelu Mountain, Changsha