today I wanted to present an interview with someone who has been weaving professionally for ... over 40 years... What you're about to read and see is guaranteed to blow your mind...
Additionally Greg has been a great supporter of Etsy Weavers team from the day one. He has offered great advices and serious critique (I do appreciate both!) out of passionate effort to make Etsy experience a worthy one for all of us.
Greg is located in Kinston, New York ( Hudson Valley region )
Please visit his Etsy store: fitchstudioweavers
I proudly present to you Greg Newham and his story.
Random facts about you:
I live and work in the Hudson Valley of New York State with my partner of twenty-seven years, Jay Halpern and our newest charge, a five month old, five pound Yorkie named Percy. I am the fourth generation of weavers from my father’s side – my grandfather and his father were lace weavers from Nottingham England. My current studio is a historic brick church dating from 1884 – stained glass windows and all.
How / when did you begin weaving?
It was quite accidental - I was working on a Masters in Music, studying clarinet. A friend wanted to change careers and was interested in pursuing a craft – weaving was mentioned. Since I was unfamiliar with “weaving”, I went to the library and borrowed several books for my friend, but I ended up reading them. In trying to encourage my friend, I ended up becoming consumed by the discipline. Soon we were purchasing a loom in NYC – in 1973. The saleswoman asked what we would do with it and I said, “Start a business weaving rugs”. She asked if we knew how to weave…?.... No….well she taught weaving….and so it began. My partner’s brother was a noted interior designer in NYC. I spent a whole summer in an apartment in NY teaching myself to weave, and taking lessons from Johanna Laurie who had studied in France and Scandinavia. That fall we presented the “new samples” to his brother and he referred us to another designer who made a call which put us in the offices of one of the most prestigious interior design firms in NY. The first rugs I wove on commission were for the weekend home of Carter Brown, at that time the director of the National Gallery. With these orders in hand we relocated to Woodstock, NY where I studied with Iona Plath - a noted weaver and author. Time flew by; now it is nearly forty years later – and I still create custom textiles to order for the interior design trade. I like to say in that time I have woven “to the Moon and back, at least several times.”
Any particular techniques you enjoy the most?
Since most of my technique is “self-learned” from many years of hands-on work, I will say it is difficult to choose any one aspect. I hand dye yarns, creating space dyed coloring since nearly the beginning. I weave very large “constructed” area rugs – i.e. woven in panels and hand seamed so patterns match meticulously over 25-30 feet in length; I also weave throws and upholstery fabric….and I like to create scarves too! In truth, I enjoy the range of processes necessary to produce the finished textiles, whatever it may be.
What part of the process makes you the most passionate?
Again, this is really hard to differentiate for me, because the whole process is a continuum – meaning you begin with the concept be it the design and/or coloring, continuing on to choosing and preparing the necessary materials. Once they are secured it is on to the physical steps of warping and setting-up the loom and then the weaving. (I find warping the loom very satisfying ….and the actual weaving has been my life’s work. Assembling and finishing these large textiles gives the sense of completion. )
(area rug hand-woven by Greg)
What is your source of inspiration?
This is another question I cannot pinpoint a succinct answer. Ideas come to me at any time, many I do not act on for years. I am a very visual and tactile person and there is inspiration even in mundane daily tasks. Finally, my clients over the years have provided a stimulus that is unfathomable. I have worked for many of the most noted American interior designers and architects. These extremely talented people are constantly providing their input. I many times feel that I am most creative at “solving a problem” given very specific limitations – that is fulfilling the desires of a design professional so that my textile is compatible with the whole concept of the room. These are generally very high-end projects.
Where do I sell?
I think the above answer explains where the bulk of my work goes – into residential interior projects. I have sold my hand woven scarves in boutique stores and a few craft shows. An assistant suggested, and actually set up my Etsy shop – Fitch Studio Weavers just over a year ago. It is now the only venue for the sale of my scarves.
When my assistant moved back to his home state, I had to take over managing the shop. I have to say that at this late stage in my career, I have to acquire a lot of new “techniques” regarding marketing on the web….and I am still learning. But in this process I have met other weavers across the world through the Etsy Weavers Team and had some very nice interactions with purchasers on Etsy. We are all still evolving – both the shop owners of Etsy and the site itself. I find it challenging, but also kind of fun.
Inteview by Alvant,
Captain of Etsy Weavers team