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Jan Shelley is a traditional wooden loom weaver and creates beautiful accessories, decorations, art work and home furnishings from the comfort of her studio by her home near St Andrews.
Creating textiles using traditional methods is a long and careful process and takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but Jan is passionate about what she does and could never imagine doing anything else. She has been in her studio for 25 years and it’s like a second home to her. She said:
“I’m just looking at the pieces I picked up on the forest floor and am trying to see if any of them would be useful for my textile work. I’m a textile designer who makes cloth in addition to designing. Some designers design and then their work is manufactured. In my case I’m manufacturing myself on hand looms.
“There’s a really good textural effect in plants and gardens such as vegetable plots, and I think the contemporative aspect of gardening is very much like hand weaving, it has a similar rhythm to it. It isn’t as complicated as it looks.”
Jan owns a dobby loom made by a maker called George Wood. He designed his looms himself based on a medieval model. Jan said:
“I spend just as much time oiling my looms as I do weaving on them because I love them so much. I love working with the yarns, I love working with colours and textures and with structures on the loom.
“The loom is quite heavy to weave and would be quite heavy to weave for a very long time. I think it’s more of a leg workout than an arm workout. There’s such a long history of weaving and it goes back to the ancients. Almost everything that’s done now has been done by somebody else at some time and you’re just rediscovering it and reinterpreting it.”
Jan is really passionate about what she does and enjoys teaching others how to weave. She is also proud to be part of something which has its historical roots firmly set in Scotland. She said:
“I feel I come from a long line of weavers through the 20th century and through the weavers here in Scotland right through to the weavers of ancient Greece. I don’t think I could imagine doing anything else now. It’s wonderful to be part of this history.”
To see examples of Jan's work, visit STV's picture gallery.
Jan is part of Fife’s Open Studios event which starts on Friday May 6. For more information see the event's web pages.