Designer and textile artist Sarah Wertzberger plays upon unexpected patterns and color combinations in beautiful, surprising ways. A graduate of RISD, Sarah maintains a multidisciplinary studio practice, but her work at the loom celebrates the freedom that comes with weaving by hand. Rather than planning a project and executing it to a tee, she lets her designs shift and fluctuate intuitively — the end result is a unique blend of artistic and functional objects, spanning handwoven blankets, pillows, and hanging artworks. We spoke with Sarah about some of the things that inspire, motivate, and inform her design process, from brightly lit New York bodegas to vernacular architecture from all over the world.
When you sit down to make, what guides your design perspective? I enjoy designing against the parameters that are inherently set in place depending on the type of loom I am using and what type of object I am making, functional or not functional.
What materials do you use? I mostly use cotton and wool for functional pieces, for practical reasons. Cotton is strong and available in many colors, and wool is soft and give the pieces more weight.
How do you choose and incorporate varying yarn textures? In weaving varying yarns, weights are surprisingly important to get the effects you want, so sometimes I alternate and thin cotton yarn with a heavier wool yarn to create a graphic effect. I also think about the end-use and function of the pieces to inform those decisions.
What informs your color choices? I choose colors that excite me and make me feel a sense of playfulness and joy. That usually means saturated, bright colors, but I do also use neutrals to complement and play around with unexpected color combinations.
What drew you to weaving and textiles in the first place? I think the idea that textiles can be both functional as well as art, like all the crafts, drew me to it. I also enjoy that weaving is an applied craft that feels like a kind of underground, mostly female dominant tradition — at least from a US perspective, however there are lots of awesome male weavers out there. It felt like a safe place to me to start making from.
What inspires you? People, places, things, or even processes? I used to live in New York for five years and I loved Chinatown, dollar stores, and bodegas for inspiring and unexpected color and material combinations. I’m inspired by folk arts, DIY, crafts and vernacular architecture from all over the world. I look at lots of contemporary artists, designers, weavers.
When you're not weaving, what are you doing? Teaching weaving, trying to soak up sun (living in Portland necessitates this), drinking Italian and Oregon wine, cycling, and hiking. This summer I am going to take a trip to Scotland, and I am excited to check out some weaving mills there!
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Thanks so much, Sarah! Come by the San Francisco showroom anytime between Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19 to meet Sarah and see her work on the loom. Enjoy the show and shop Sarah’s work from May 18 to June 18, 2019.