Bristol Weaving Mill (BWM) is a bespoke textile mill established in 2015 by Franki Brewer and Juliet Bailey, the owners of renowned textile design studio Dash and Miller. Bristol Weaving Mill was created to grant Franki and Juliet full control over the making process, with a focus on creating innovative textiles for fashion and interiors. Franki and Juliet contribute to the field extensively, lecturing at the Campaign for Wool's 'Making it in Textiles' conference, and at the Royal College of Art.
Bristol Weaving Mill (BWM) is a bespoke textile mill established in 2015 by Franki Brewer and Juliet Bailey, the owners of renowned textile design studio Dash and Miller. Bristol Weaving Mill was created to grant Franki and Juliet full control over the making process, with a focus on creating innovative textiles for fashion and interiors. Franki and Juliet contribute to the field extensively, lecturing at the Campaign for Wool's Making it in Textiles conference, and at the Royal College of Art.
By controlling production, Bristol Weaving Mill are able to create freely. Championing sustainability, BWM regularly collaborate with local farmers to create weaves from waste wool or with factories to collect silk offcuts. These are then made into rugs, fabric, throws and cushions. Set up as a design, development and prototyping facility with an industrial power-loom that is used more like a hand-loom, it’s the way that BWM approach their projects, utilise machinery and source their yarns that makes them unique.
1. What motivates you to make?
The process of creating hand-woven textiles is a very intimate one. Every inch of yarn runs through your fingers and every thread has to be first measured, counted, wound onto the loom, threaded and reeded before weaving can commence. Every element of the design process is a variable and every stage needs to be planned and visualised ahead of time. Yet even so, when you start the weaving process it’s the parameters that you have set for yourself that then become the boundaries against which you can push and explore. To be a weaver is to constantly learn and this is incredibly engaging. The possibilities for creating are endless and the elements you choose come together to create a new fabric every time that has its own characteristics and beauty. The whole process is very empowering and satisfying. Weaving allows you to think in 3D and to create something in such a tactile way. It’s quite thrilling to make something that wasn’t in existence before you started. Then there is the materials; natural and artisan yarns and fibres that inspire beautiful fabrics and products. We are often motivated by the yarns and fibres in a quest to showcase their properties to the best of our abilities. For us, the process of weaving itself, together with the satisfaction of the end product motivates us to make.
2. What and/or who are you most inspired or influenced by?
Our inspiration often comes from a collaborative conversation with our clients, and also from the yarns and fibres that are available to us. We often reference other textile designers such as Annie Albers, Gunta Stoltz and Sheila Hicks, but also look to other sources for inspiration including art, architecture, ceramics, surface design and new materials. For us the most important source of inspiration is always the fibres we are working with and how they have been spun. Working very closely with British fibre producers (predominantly wool and alpaca) we are often involved in the spinning process, and it’s through conversations with the spinners that we can create a yarn that’s truly unique, which showcases the fibres perfectly for our purpose.
Another area of inspiration is our continuing work to find solutions for textile waste through design. Working closely with factories throughout the UK, we often find that the waste materials we are presented with will become a source of inspiration in themselves, as we seek to find viable solutions for processing this waste into new and sustainable products or fabrics.
3. What is your unique approach to your craft, and how have you honed your skills?
Within the UK, as a weaving mill, we are unique in our approach to designing woven fabrics. The hand-loom is our main tool for R&D and is absolutely integral to our work. We are set up as a design, development and prototyping facility where we also have an industrial power-loom that we use more like a hand-loom. It’s the way that we approach our projects, utilise our machinery and source our yarns that makes us unique.
4. What is your definition or proudest moment as a maker so far?
Establishing The Bristol Weaving Mill as a successful business over the past 6 years and having our products showcased by The New Craftsmen (among others). Being shortlisted for the Arts Council Award in 2018 and receiving the QEST award for excellence in craft in 2016.
5. What is your dream project?
In many ways we are already working on some of our dream projects. For example, it is a dream of ours to create a collection of textile products that have been developed regionally from the fibre up, allowing us full traceability back to the farm and even the animal the fibres came from. We would like to continue our work with farmers and fibre producers who are following regenerative farming models that create fibres that are truly sustainable, and to find further solutions for textile waste to create more circular textile systems.
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