In our latest Women in Craft series, we speak with weaver Maria Sigma from Woven Textiles. An award-winning textile artist, Maria’s philosophy is rooted in sustainability and craftsmanship. She is renowned for her signature ‘zero waste’ textiles.
Maria’s aesthetic is inspired by her Greek heritage while paying homage to the colours and sceneries of the British landscape. Her minimal and contemporary textiles are timeless heirloom pieces.
Tell us about your journey. What inspired you to begin designing textiles?
When I tried hand weaving I felt that all the pieces of the puzzle were put in place as it combined creativity, maths, designing, texture and the use of machinery. So I decided to come to London and obtain my second degree in Textile Design, specialising in hand weaving.
Three values that guide your day-to-day?
Honesty, Ethical work and Sustainability.
Where do you go for inspiration? What are some of your favourite cultural spots in London?I source inspiration from different things. It could be a feeling, a song, a book, a place, a person or weaving techniques and materials themselves. But I mainly feel my inspiration recharged when I am close to nature, where I can slow down and focus on things that matter the most for me.
In London, when I feel stuck, I would visit the Tate modern and spend time observing Sheila Hick’s work and Rothko’s paintings, or go around craft galleries and junk shops.
What are some tips on encouraging more people on getting involved in craft and learning new skills in different disciplines?
Craft is more than just a way of making things; for me it’s a way of thinking and living in the most sustainable and meaningful way.
Craft questions the different processes of dealing with the material world, and it brings back a certain level of human dignity. It calms down our high-speed society. In a way, craft is a tool to connect the heritage of the past with our present. Craft can invest a context of regionalism and history to our convenience-based economy. It is an event that starts with a physical sense of relationship between materials and people.
More specifically, hand-weaving - one of the oldest crafts, acts as a portal to past eras and candlelit work environments, brings back a long- forgotten, almost romantic, collaboration of the body and mind, while always bringing together the relationship between the domesticity and creativity. Hand-crafted goods remind us how and why we are human - they carry a story, they hold the maker’s personality and the emotional state of their creator. Often seen on hand-woven textiles are actually signals of rest pauses where the weaver has taken a break from the loom, something which otherwise is an industrial defect, in a handmade textile one it becomes a detail we empathise with.
At the studio. Photo: The Garnered
Complete the sentence - ‘#ToKnowYourArtisan is to ….”
#ToKnowYourArtisan is to know and appreciate the hard work every handcrafted piece requires. It is not only about the labour someone has put into it, but all the steps that have led her/him to make it. From studies, personal practice, life choices and a way of living in general.
I am also working on a new series of video-tutorials about weaving at home with everyday materials easy to find in the household.