Hand-looming. Not a hobby we’re about to pick up on the weekend. That’s why we’re grateful for incredible artisans like Adele Stafford of Voices of Industry in San Francisco. We don’t know how many more “farm to…” monikers you can handle – but honestly, Voices of Industry is creating raw garments “farm-to-loom.” Adele knows her cotton and wool farmers by name, and is weaving together beautifully-constructed coats, dresses and shirts in their studio high above the Heath Ceramics tile factory.
Anyone else swooning over the idea of a day in that studio? We thought so. Here’s Adele, giving us a taste of life at a hand-loomed pace…
I am very fortunate to be a part of the Heath Ceramics maker collective, located on the floor above the tile factory in San Francisco.
My work begins in the fields of independent domestic fiber farmers, those who demonstrate stewardship of their land through agricultural excellence. I work with the farmers through the harvest of their fiber and have that raw material spun into yarn in one of several micro-mills in the U.S.
Honest labor, parity, trust and integrity. I am only interested in building a model that includes – and acknowledges – individuals who are expert at what they do, be it pattern making or shepherding. I am committed to paying them a domestic living wage and naming them as vital to the process. Ultimately, I am telling a story of labor and my hope is that each human chapter contributes to a larger narrative.
Running. I am avid about this and refuse to go two days in a row without. Running – not just exercise, but running – expands my thinking and is my time to get clarity and expel anxious energy.
To get the creative juices flowing I…
Research. I have always followed strong, innate curiosity as a way to ignite new thinking and offer new perspective.
Favorite object in my space:
My 1980 mechanical dobby loom. I adore this machine and sit at it for long stretches on most days. I have two other looms in my studio but this one, in particular, is my place. We’ve worked out a healthy language and I intuitively understand what the slight creaks and groans insinuate. This loom is also the workhorse for my production for which I am very grateful.
Favorite morning of the week:
Sunday. This is my supposed one true day ‘off’ each week, and even if I venture into the studio, we try to make the morning as sacrosanct as possible. Coffee in bed, newspaper, lazy second sleep, spelt biscuits with slices of cheddar cheese and dijon mustard… you get the scene.
Fave product in the collection:
I am enamored with the new woolen jacket we are launching in several weeks. I was at the shearing of the wool in rural Appalachia and I have such an affinity for the farmers and their flock. The wool feels incredibly special because of this.
My favorite current project is:
A still very undercover project that involves a master woodworker. Stay tuned!
My favorites workbooks/paper goods:
I use quite a bit of graph paper to plot weaving patterns (drafts). I adore finding vintage paper goods, which is how I found my favorite business cards.
Soundtrack in the studio:
Agnes Obel, King Krule, Alela Diane, Tinariwen, Father John Misty.
Most common visitors:
My next door neighbors, Matt Dick and Llane Alexis of Small Trade Company.
The snack we always keep on hand:
Dates. I am obsessed with them and love the quick zing of natural sugar after a long stretch on the loom.
Favorite way to spend the lunch hour:
Seated, eating what I brought from home, which is most always a variation on the ‘macrobiotic’ bowl.
Favorite design neighbors:
Matt Dick and Llane Alexis.
Best part of my job:
I get to work with amazing individuals.
Worst part of my job:
Cash flow. Starting a business without investors or a huge nest egg is intimidating and daunting. We’re constantly making personal and professional sacrifices to lengthen the runway.
Other weavers I admire:
Anni Albers, Sheila Hicks, Jan Langdon (my weaving teacher), Amy Revier, Swans Island.
My top distraction is:
My smart phone. When I’m weaving, I’ve learned to put it clear across the room and totally out of sight lest I be tempted to refresh my email feed every ten minutes.
Books always in studio:
A collection of weaving books, mostly, with several compendiums on textile history.
Biggest inspirations this season (or always):
I am inspired by human stories and my work is constantly referencing the farmers who grew the fiber. I am currently captivated with Sally Mann’s photographs from the late 1970s, especially the platinum prints that offer such exquisite balance in formalism and mood.