In the next of our Meet the Maker features, looking at contemporary Shetland craft makers showcased in our current ShetlandMade exhibition, we talk to Deborah Briggs about her work.

Where do you do your work?

I work out of my weaving studio in Bridge End.

What is your background?

I began my career as a scientist working in the field of global public health but have loved textiles and design since I was a child. I began to weave when I realized how closely logic, science, math and weaving blend together to create beautiful textiles. I graduated from the Master Weaver course under the guidance of the Master Weaver Janet Phillips from Somerset in 2015 and have been living and weaving in Shetland since that time.

Who or what do you draw inspiration from? What motivates you to do what you do?

My inspiration comes from the incredible landscape and colours found all through the year in Shetland. Each season brings new landscapes of colour and texture and opportunities for new creative designs.

How do you work, what is your process? What's your favourite part of the process?

I love and am inspired by colour so I begin by thinking about how I want to bring the colours of a new piece together. I think about the hue, tone and value of each of the colours that I want to use in a design and then begin to determine where they will best complement each other as the piece is woven. My very favorite part of the process of weaving a new design is that moment when I know that the colour that I have just added to the design makes the woven piece truly ‘sing’. That is when I know that my design has been successful.

Why do you choose to use the materials that you use? Where do you source your materials?

I use natural fibre for all of my pieces including wool, silk, cotton and linen. I have found that natural fibres bring out the very best in any textile product. I source my wool from the producers in Shetland when possible. I love the texture of the wool produced in Shetland.

Do you have a favourite piece to make?

My favorite piece is almost always the last one that I wove.

What are your most popular pieces?

Visitors love the “Shetland knitting theme” tea towels that I weave. The colourful Shetland wool wall hangings & rugs are also very popular.

How long does it tend to take you to complete a piece?

It depends on what I am weaving. A blanket can take up to 2 1/2 weeks to weave from beginning to wind the warp to finishing to twist the fringes and block the blanket to the final shape and size.

What does your craft mean to you?

I love weaving. I cannot wait to get up every morning and go to my studio and begin to weave! Obviously, I am addicted to the art of weaving. I constantly think about how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place and do what I love to do every day of the week. What could be better than that?

Do you make your craft full time or do you have another job?

I spend most of my days, weeks and months weaving.

Art aside, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Reading and gardening.

If you could own another artist’s work, who would you choose? Why?

Very difficult choice as there are so many talented artists in Shetland. We have several pieces designed and produced by Cecil Tate of Paparwark. He is one of my favorite artists in Shetland.

Who are your biggest influences?

The biggest influence on my work is the landscape and colours of Shetland.

What constitutes a successful piece for you?

Perfect design and perfectly woven.

How has your practice changed over time?

I have become more confident in the use of colour in my woven textiles.

What is next for you?

I am hoping to begin to work on incorporating more texture into my future work.

You can see Deborah's work as part of the current set of ShetlandMade exhibitions at Bonhoga Gallery during opening hours Wednesday - Sunday, 10:30am - 4:30pm until the exhibition ends on Sunday 4 September.

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