Our November event was lively and well-attended. We were fortunate to share Sam Goates’ weaving story, both as a textile design consultant in Australia, and dedicated studio weaver back in Scotland, her heart-place, and home.
Sam’s direct approach, using her textiles , sketchbooks , yarn samples and photographs as visual and tactile illustrations, made it easy for us to identify with her personal, and creative journey.
Born in Scotland, she graduated from Glasgow school of Art in Embroidered and Woven textiles, which, in retrospect, she described as the most valuable opportunity to indulge in creative play. She realized her love of mathematics and the process of weaving on multi-shaft looms led naturally to a career in woven design. Already we could see from her college work, a fascination with geometric form, and inspiration from architectural structure, transformed in weaving by using contrasts of light and dark, and smooth and shiny yarn.
After graduating, fate took a hand, when on a visit to Sydney, Australia, she was hired as design assistant to a family-owned commercial company selling textiles to the marketplace. How her own ideas and inspiration developed were now dictated by the design brief, much of which was ‘bread and butter’ contract design for upholstery, vertical blinds, airline lounge furnishings, conference suites, corporate board rooms and the like. Her carefully drafted designs were carried out on computer-driven dobby looms or jacquard looms, to produce samples, of which only a fraction made it to production. Only a few of these used woollen yarns. The pressure of the workplace, in which she became head of design, meant that she found time to play with ideas only after work or at home, or while travelling. She described how designs might start as a free doodle, an experiment with Photoshop filters, or photographs sourced from the internet. All the time, however, she was striving for a meaningful thread that kept alive her personal attachment to a project. Sam spent 20 years there.
After returning to Scotland in 2008, career choices were now Sam’s own, though many contacts were retained . Woollen cloth and its production for the Harris Tweed industry became her focus when she devised the first SVQ qualification for Harris Tweed weavers with Cardonald College Glasgow. She set up her weaving studio in Buckie, near the harbour, and called it ‘Woven in the Bone’, after a favourite poem in Donald S. Murray’s book “Weaving Songs”.
While still enjoying consultancy work, her days may now be spent in the solitary work we all recognize – warping, sourcing yarn, weft sampling, loom mechanics ( Sam has a Hattersley loom) and making colour choices and design decisions for her own projects. A sense of place runs through the photographs and inspirations she shared. Warp wrappings on strips of card showed varying proportions of light and dark yarns, and colours directly influenced by her eye for details in sea-stained timbers, shadows on water, bark and lichens .- just a few examples from her own photographs.
For me, the most exciting item Sam showed us was her sketchbook . She explained how her very recent journey to Nanjing, to collaborate with the Brocade Research Institute on bespoke material for a fashion garment, had suggested a number of themes for a silk brocade design – Silver darlings, leaves, patterns on water, fishing nets – we were able to see how she developed these working ideas, using just a Rollerball pen and a multi-coloured biro . I recommend a look at her website www.facebook.com/woveninthebone, where you will find fascinating video footage about the project, as well as photographs of Sam’s tweed, and her location in Buckie. Occasionally she teaches, and news of classes will be posted on her website www.weareonecreative.com