5 MIN READ
Making cloth is something that’s part of the evolution of mankind since our Neolithic ancestors began to twine together fibres into threads and weave them together in their homes into one of the first textiles. This craft, this art, evolved into one of the first industries across the globe, and of course, into the basis for the world of Home Decor.
The intricacies of what can sometimes be considered as a simple process are revealed when you get to meet a creator of woven textiles and get to see their wonderful work. One of these artists of the loom is Hélène Dashorst. She has dedicated her life to this absorbing work. Her studio is in Amsterdam, in an old school building, a light, white space cluttered with cones of yarns and lit with tall, wooden-framed windows. Close to the window is her mechanical wooden loom, the magical machine that is her canvas and faithful companion.
Inspired by her mother who ran a fashion textiles shop, at 16 years of age, Hélène had already decided that textiles would be her profession. She studied at the Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam where she was taught by teachers who had learnt from the founders of Bauhaus and was introduced to the compelling art of weaving. She developed a passion for fabrics for the home, and as soon as she graduated in 1991, Hélène found the space for her studio and began working on the warp that is now 30 years long.
The cloth that Hélène makes with her loom is a wonderful creation, 70 cm in width, entirely hand-made, and of an infinite length. The warp is like a flowing river, and Hélène, a true weaver, is its source. Following trends is not of much importance to the process; she produces her own inspiration where tactility and colour are intrinsic, something that her worldwide clientele hold very dear. She cycles 14 km to the studio every day, and that’s when the ideas begin to flow, “I’ll come in, set up the warp, then I’ll sit at the loom and try some wefts…if that’s not working, I’ll go into my storeroom and grab some yarns and carry on. It’s very intuitive”.
Yarn is where the cloth begins, and Hélène has built up a large archive to delve into as she creates, “the feel of the fabric is very important to me, and I love playing and alternating smooth hands with textures, shiny surfaces with opaque, fineness with bulkiness…”. The shelves and boxes of yarn cones from professional spinners and sourced at trade fairs are a continuously updated collection of all sorts of fibres, finishes, weights, and colours, from synthetics to her favourite silks, cashmere, and alpacas.
Hélène likens her creative process to cooking, “I’ll go to the market, I may have planned what to cook, but then I’ll see some ingredient while I’m there and that changes things, so then, when I’m in the kitchen I’ll mix and match, and that’s how I design”.She often goes to other ‘creative kitchens’; one is the laboratory of the textile museum, where she can use jacquard looms and other fabulous machinery to concoct and add to her beautiful patterns for upholstery, curtain fabrics, textile wallcovering, rugs, and carpeting; others are clients mills, where she develops products directly on their looms. Over the 30 years of working in the textile industry, she has built up an extensive knowledge of weaving looms.
The commercialization of her patterned cloth has taken Hélène around the world since she exhibited for the first time at Heimtex back in 1992, a journey that has included participation at that and other major fairs as a constant, frequent trips to New York and many circuits of Europe. Of course, that freedom to travel with her suitcase of creations has been reduced by the pandemic, and along with that, the possibility to add to her interior inspiration through absorbing ideas from the city streets, stores, and museums, but that hasn’t stopped Hélène, “I feel positive about the future. I’ve learnt how to work in a different way, along with the rest of the business”.
During the search for new representation for the New York market, Hélène came into contact with one of the people that are our key ingredients here at stonefree.design, our representative for the US market, Winnie Parnes, who introduced her to the professionally structured tool that the platform is.
“One of the aspects that I’m impressed with is the communications network that stonefree.design has set up, I feel the team behind me, something that will help me to spread my reputation throughout the global Home Decor market without taking time away from the all-important creative core of my business”.
Keep on weaving your magic Hélène, we are proud to have you with us and confident that the length of your fabric will encircle the world with us!