I have been in love with textiles since I was a girl. I sewed buttons onto cloth with mother when I was 3 or 4, and made my first cross stitch sampler when I was 9.  Eventually,  it became my whole world. I always sewed my own clothes, embroidered on jeans (this was the 60’s and 70’s) and knitted and crocheted. I went to Bowdoin college in Maine and while I majored in English literature, I also double majored in Art with a focus on textiles. When I was 19, I learned how to weave on a loom with Martha Hall. I would drive through the snowy streets in my Volkswagen bug to take a class in the evening at Martha’s home. She had small children at the time and taught weaving in her home. I just loved it. I have since learned that she passed away from cancer at 54.

From there, I focused on weaving, especially tapestry weaving at University of Michigan, where I took my junior year “abroad.” I studied with Sherry Smith- an iconoclastic woman but fantastic teacher- learning never to settle for colors available, dyeing all my yarns, pushing boundaries and taking weaving to a new level of art and fine craft. I began my own business upon graduating from college- knitting one of a kind sweaters and selling them to fancy boutiques in New York City, in the 80’s. Then I began to weave fabric to make clothing, as we’ll as yardage for other designers in the San Francisco Bay Area. I continued my weaving business for many years, until I had my children. I took a hiatus for about 20 years, sold my floor looms and focused on machine loomed sweaters, later becoming the Director of Design for Icelandic Design in Colorado. I stopped thinking about weaving.

But now, after being asked to design a product for a gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I have rediscovered weaving. I began working with beads about 12 years ago – primarily working in embroidery and off-loom stitches. Getting back to the loom has been a journey and a joy – in the past six months. It’s bringing back some memories, obviously. Maybe turning into a grandmother and an older veteran of the world has stirred up these sentiments. But I realize how right the process of weaving is for me. The structure of the warp and the changing movement and progress of the weft. And now, the thrill of using my glass beads and gemstones to create a new kind of fabric. I’m ready to push again in new directions.

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Julie Powell Design