INTERVIEW: Fibre artist Beck Jobson
Where do you begin when you receive a commission like this?
All things start with colour for me, so I usually work with the client to develop a palette and then create a suite of hand painted designs, yarn and fibre options and woven samples so they can see how their idea will translate into a hand woven textile.
I've been pretty lucky as most of my commissions have involved clients already familiar with my work coming to me to develop something in my style. Design briefs usually take the form of, "here's a colour palette/interior/collection, can you make us something that will work with this?", which is brilliant because I can take cues from the colours, location, architecture, furniture, surfaces, or scale presented to me and just create.
This project was an absolute dream because I love Obus designs and Kylie's colour palettes are always amazing so I had a million ideas, it was just a matter of refining them into a final design that matched the location.
Initial sketches inspired by Obus' colour palette and LOVE OBUS collection motifs
What garments in the current Obus collection were you drawn to when conceiving of your piece?
The Wild Ones Pullover in Cinnamon/Lilac and Wild Ones Jumpsuit in Midnight/Musk immediately caught my eye - mostly cause I'm a sucker for a horse print, but I also gravitated to the Reawaken Pant and Unison Shirt in Lilac. The colours, proportions, and details all lent themselves to the kind of bold graphic work I like to weave.
How long does it take to create a piece like this, and what tools and materials are involved?
Hand weaving is definitely not a process for people who like instant gratification!
Before you actually start the fabric there's the process of selecting yarns that will hold up to the process of weaving under tension, and sometime the yarn you want won't work. There's a lot of compromise, lateral thinking and maths required to work through how you'll translate a bunch of yarn into a solid fabric and then an equally long process of setting up and threading the loom ready to weave.
This project required four individually woven panels, each with a different warp / weft pattern and a variety of different yarns in cotton, silk, and merino wool. All up it took around three weeks rom start to finish, with all of the pieces woven on a really simple two shaft table top loom. There is quite a bit of specialist equipment required with weaving and the process requires constant attention and is repetitive and physical - it's a great upper body workout - but it can be very meditative once you get into a groove and it is incredibly satisfying watching single strands of thread turn into solid fabric right before your eyes!
The panels come together from single strands to woven fabric
Did you listen to or watch anything while you worked on this piece?
The upside of the labour intensive nature of hand weaving is that it gives you loads of time to listen to music, podcasts or binge-watch netflix while you work!
Its always interesting to see how the aesthetics of what you're inputting affects the output of your work, over the course of this project I chewed through American Horror Coven and the second season of Glow, while Kendrik Lamar, Childish Gambino and Erykah Badu were on heavy rotation. I'll leave it up to you guys to decipher where this playlist came out in the weaving!
What's your next creative project?
Its funny I'd planned on a quite year of making for 2018, but so far it's been hectic! As far as new creative projects I'm currently sampling new ideas for next winters production range, slowly developing a collection of large scale woven paintings for an exhibition in late 2019, and preparing textile dyeing and print workshops for emerging fashion designers in Fiji later this year. I've also been lucky enough to score a dream commission with The Johnson Collection House Museum, which i'm working on now which is super exciting.
Beck’s custom piece for Obus (pictured above) is on display at Shop 5, Cathedral Arcade, 37 Swanston St, Melbourne (just off Flinders Lane) now. See more of Beck's work at Handmadelife and more from the Craft Cubed Festival at Craft Victoria.