Today we have a special opportunity to delve into the creative space of brilliant weaver and long-time FibreShare participant: Ania Grzeszek! Her work has inspired us for years, not only because it’s beautiful, but because we admire her commitment to local, sustainable materials. See her full Fibre Space interview below, and please visit her website/Instagram feed afterward!
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you ended up in Fiber-Arts.
I’m a full-time architect and a part-time crafter. Since I was a kid there was no craft I was afraid to try and it was never enough projects to work on. It’s nothing unusual for a child to love crafting though, almost every kid does it. But it went on and on, and gave me the idea for what I want to do in the future. I wanted to do creative things for living. When I started architecture studies I could finally create things that were very complex. I loved the full process of creating a vision, articulating it, and driving it to completion.
After I finished my studies though, and started working as an architect I realised, that I will never be able to express myself through it. It’s not a creative business in the end, rather a rational procedure to do sensible things. It was partially heartbreaking realisation but also eyes opening at the same time. Being disappointed with architecture, I rediscovered crafting. I started making things that were from start to finish mine. I built my first cardboard loom, I signed up for nude drawing class few weeks later, I took a pottery, bookbinding and goldsmith courses later same year. But nothing got me as much as weaving, that was an instant crush.
2. Give us a brief history of your workspace/studio and how it has evolved over time.
Few weeks after I started weaving I got a proper floor loom. It was a Christmas gift from my boyfriend who saw I’m serious about it and decided to support my dreams. We set the loom in our bedroom and I greatly appreciate that my boyfriend sacrified his love for for uncluttered spaces to make me happy with my own home studio! By now, after over one year, I took over almost every corner of the flat pretty much. The bedroom is where I weave and store all my yarn and finished products. The living room was turned into my sewing studio and the office, where I sew my pouches, experiment with garments and take care of all the paperwork. The kitchen got upgraded with 3 big aluminium pots and endless jars, which store all the botanical dyes I collect in the nearby park and use for dyeing yarn and fabrics.
3. Can you give us a glimpse into a typical day in your studio?
As I mentioned before I am a weaver but also an architect. I’m working in an architectural office as my day job, which means I can weave only at nights and on the weekend. Some might say it’s a really exhausting life style, I see it differently though. I used to have big problems with stress management and anxiety. I used to dream about my architect’s job at night and finally ended up close to burn out, quitting my job for some time. What weaving is to me right now is an opportunity to clear my head. I found a perfect balance between my day job and my small business. None of both is less important than the other.
Because I don’t have enough time to think about everything, I learnt to focus on my goals, achievements and blend out my worries. Preparing the loom takes a few days, weaving one cloth takes a few weeks. It’s a great way to exercise your patience but also to zone out and relax after spending the most of the day in front of a computer. I usually write down a plan for the next few weeks at the beginning of the month, marking deadlines and to do’s. I love making plans and lists, it gives me the feeling of structure and motivates me to work on a weave at least for a while every evening.
4. Name a tool you cannot live without and why.
It’s a weird choice for a weaver but my favourite tool is my vintage sewing machine! I love all the steps before sewing – from collecting the plants in the park, through dyeing the yarn, warping the loom, deciding on the pattern and weaving for weeks. There’s no better feeling than turning all the elements that you were preparing for so long into a finished product, though. The sewing studio is where the real magic happens and my handwoven pieces are being shaped into bags, pouches, clothes etc. I always knew that I don’t want the woven fabric is to be the last step of my creative process.
5. Is there a piece of equipment or fiber you own that is special to you? Can you tell us the story on how you acquired it?
I try to work with local german fibres only and always choose natural yarns, like wool or flax. I dye most of my yarns myself, with botanical dyes that I find in the local park in Berlin. This approach makes almost all the yarns I own very special and unique. On top of that I always bring a yarny souvenir from my travels, like some beautiful handspun wool from Italy or gorgeous soft mohair from France. I also look for vintage yarns online – a great way to find affordable and unique fibers. But there are few yarns that I treasure the most, because they came from far away and were a most beautiful gift – I got some wonderful mill offcuts and some amazing local raw silk threads in my first fibreshare package from the US-based @markota1970. I only use those for very special projects and I don’t know what I do when I run out of those!
6. Can you give us a glimpse into your storage situation?
When I first started weaving I used half of a small drawer in my bedroom to store yarns. Now things have changed, yarn slowly started taking over the flat and I decided to get myself a neat Ikea shelf, that got filled much faster than expected. I store all my yarns there, organised by colour. I also keep all my loom tools there, as well as yarn scraps, roving balls, warp cones, hand dyed fabrics, strings and zippers. I also decided to reduce my wardrobe to free two extra big drawers for all my finished products. And I think that shows perfectly how I feel about this hobby – since I started weaving in 2015 I haven’t bought a single piece of clothing but spent all my paychecks on weaving supplies instead!