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Adele Stafford / Maker

Adele Stafford launched the 'Voices of Industry' project back in 2013 and hand weaves each piece on her Ahrens Violette mechanical dobby loom in San Francisco, California. Voices of Industry creates hand woven garments and textiles from 100% domestic fiber, farmed and spun in the U.S. Adele is pushing the makers movement forward one piece at a time.

Photographs by Andrew Paynter
Questions by David Hieatt

Do you have a guiding principle towards doing your work?

Yes, and it's fairly straightforward as an idea but much harder to put into practice: Show up for the work. For me, this means sitting at my loom every day and weaving for at least a few hours no matter what else might be pulling at me in business or in life. I was given this advice early on, in both my studio art education and in writing workshops I attended over the years. This commitment is the gateway to developing a habit, and in turn, a creative practice. The simple repetition of throwing the shuttle across the loom for even an hour has never failed to open up my thinking, ground my anxiety and, ultimately, move the work forward. Even if my thoughts don't dramatically shift, I can walk away from the work and see tangible evidence of a woven yard or two. Affirmation.

Has that evolved over time?

I am increasingly unyielding about this principle as it has proven to be the most honest and consistent path to moving my work along, despite the sacrifices inherent in prioritizing time at my loom each day. It took me many years to develop this rigor, many battles waged with a host of internal voices about fear and self-doubt and I now recognize that this rigor is precisely the tool to win that war.

Who has been your biggest influence in terms of your work?

My first heroes in my studio education were artists like Robert Irwin and James Turrell, conceptualists working with light and perspective. They taught me a great deal about form, material and, most importantly, process as ruthless editors in their work. Today, my greatest influence comes from the fiber farmers who supply me with wool, cotton and alpaca for weaving into garments. I spend time with each fiber in the field long before it's tied to my loom and this has proven essential to my creative process. When I eventually sit down to weave, I have an incredibly intimate understanding of the fiber, richer still with the stories of the farmers who grew it. As an artist, this material connection is vital to my exploration of what is possible in construction and form.

Do you have any advice for other artists?

Stay true to your own process and cut the noise as much as possible. We are inundated with content every time we pick up our phone or peruse online. I give that part of our world enough attention to stay informed and no more. I recently attended the Do Lectures USA where a speaker implored us not to quote others but, instead, to quote ourselves. She ruffled feathers with her scolding tone and the fact that every speaker before her, including me, had quoted a number of famous folks in our lectures- but I agree with her. Far more interesting to muster both the confidence and intellect to 'quote yourself'.

Do you have any rules or rituals when working? Like, no music, prefer afternoons etc.

I like to do a bit of cleaning when I arrive in the studio each morning, followed by a cup of tea and time spent returning messages and organizing my thoughts. I usually sit at the loom by midday and weave for the duration of the afternoon. I like this time to be uninterrupted with only a few short breaks to rest my body and fill up my water glass. I often listen to podcasts or audio books while I weave.

Do you have a motto?

As a former strategist who worked quite a bit with branding and marketing teams, I prefer to avoid mottos at all costs.

Describe your workshop?

I am so fortunate to have a space in a beautiful, former laundry building in the bustling Mission district of San Francisco. Brutalist in its concrete walls and floors, the space is flooded with natural light and is perfect contrast to the supple garments I weave onsite. My three looms live in a tidy row perpendicular to the windows, much like a workshop awaiting a few more weavers. I only have one electrical tool in my studio- the bobbin winder; everything else is powered by my body and creates the loveliest audio track as I weave back and forth.


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Workshop Wisdom

Hiut Yearbook photographer Andrew Paynter visits artists in their workshops to glean the processes behind the creative; celebrating the maker while simultaneously flying the flag for film photography.
Follow Andrew as he guides us around the private spaces of some of the most inspiring creatives, giving us a rare opportunity to see past the work to the artist behind it.

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