Yesterday, after racking our brains for some potential new blog topics from a trendy Shoreditch hotspot, Lucy and I wanted a change of scenery, so we headed over the road to the Ace hotel for a cup of coffee. As we walked through the lounge looking for somewhere to perch we stumbled across Ben and his loom! Unbeknown to us, the hotel was host to a small exhibition from the Dovecot Tapestry Studio as part of London Craft Week!
As we got talking to Lizzie (the Marketing & Communications Manager), we learnt that there has been an increase in popularity and demand for tapestries, some of which take 18 months to create. They attribute this as movement away from industrial consumerism towards appreciation for locally produced, hand crafted quality goods. Dovecot Studios as a result has noticed a rise in commissioned tapestries within the commercial interior markets; sometimes large pieces become the focus point for the rest of the interior design and architecture to complement.
Dovecot's master weavers have collaborated with some of the world's leading artists for collections, museums, galleries and private residences for over 100 years. Tapestries have an acoustic benefit and hold their value very well.
As part of the exhibition anyone could sit down with Ben, (the apprentice weaver doing the demonstration) and learn how to weave. Now, while the method didn't take too long to pick up, there were more than enough ways that the technique could let you down! You can weave from right to left or from left to right, you just had to ensure you were paying close attention to which strings you were plucking, so that the wool landed in the correct places. I had a tendency to over stretch the strings which left what was called a 'sheep on the hills' effect (which isn't what you want). This meant going back and trying to loosen the wool so that it showed off a fluffy exterior which nicely covered all of the strings behind it!
It was such a pleasure to meet Ben, he was really helpful and very relaxed. However, after roughly 10 minutes of sitting at the loom, I had to surrender as there was absolutely no mercy for my back! Ben then explained to us that they usually have specially designed chairs which are ergonomically tailored for the practice. As Lucy acknowledged from the minute we saw the demonstration, weaving certainly is a labour of love!
Although we never actually got the coffees we'd gone in for, we certainly came away stimulated!
If you have a chance to get down to the exhibition we fully recommend that you go. Admission is free but it ends on Saturday!
The Ace Hotel, 100 Shoreditch High St, London E1 6JQ.