The result is LUACHANNA, a collection of limited edition cushions and wall hangings, designed by Russell Pinch and Oona Bannon, and handwoven by Mario and Karen at our workshop. In Gaelic ‘luachanna’ means ‘values’ and this collaboration and resulting collection celebrates artistic making, symbolizing the shared values that both our brands bring to a design process that respects materiality and honest making in the creation of elegant and dimensional products. It showcases the art of hand loom weaving, gentle sculptural impact, close colour relationships and the beauty of natural materials in their purest form.
We relish collaborations for the energy and challenges they bring to our usual processes. PINCH’s design for the wall hanging pushed the hand loom process to its limits. A standard loom weave pattern is characteristically linear, following the straight horizontal and vertical lines of the warp and weft. PINCH’s concept, to immortalise the beauty of the undulating Mourne Mountains that surround our workshop within the graphics of the wall hanging, pushed the technical build to a style more associated with tapestry weaving created on a vertical loom. The result is a piece that sits beautifully between abstract and representational.
The process of creating the LUACHANNA Wall Hanging refers back to an archive weave first created by our founder Gerd Hay-Edie in 1950, for a wall covering that was displayed at The Festival of Britain. To match and maintain the clean lines of the diagonals in the design requires a great deal more focus than simply sending the shuttle back and forth. Uneven threading delivers a varied, lace-like pattern within the weave, playing on vertical lines as well as horizontal.
For LUACHANNA, Karen, (daughter of Gerd), who studied tapestry at the beginning of her weave training in Norway in the 60s, put her skills into action to meticulously produce this stunning wall hanging. It is not only a test of concentration but one of stamina as each wall hanging takes 25 hours to weave - a true labour of love and celebration of the craft.
Karen reflects: “Tapestry is where I started my craft as a handloom weaver. The technique is quite different to throwing the shuttle back and forth. But like riding a bike after a long break of not doing it, my fingers found their form and the plucking action needed to pull the yarn through. It was also lovely to work with a new colour palette, echoing the furnishing fabrics used in the cushions.”
The cushions in the LUACHANNA collection come in two colourways – a mustard and a dusty apricot blush – shades from within PINCH's spectrum. The weave is closely based on our signature Mourne Check fabric, which is a plain weave structure marrying wool warp and cotton weft yarns. The final fabric is inspired by the sampler fabric that is the usual starting point of any weave process.
During the exploratory phase to produce a sampler, the weaver introduces different textures and yarn weights by changing the weft yarn in the shuttle to experiment with how different combinations of warp and weft affect the dimensional shadows and create rhythm and pattern in the final fabric.
The outcome is a fabric with blocks of shifting gradations of tone, some more highly contrasting than others but unified by the underlying warp shades.
Mario says: “Weaving new fabric samplers and experimenting with yarns of different shades and weights is always an exciting time at the workshop. Each combination offers subtle differences and it becomes all about the qualities within the yarn. I especially love the tonal qualities found within the shadows of the weave. In many ways these are as important to the overall design as the tones found in the yarn on the surface of the weave.”
From the array of options a sampler offers usually only a selection will make it through to the full production process and be woven at full width. However, PINCH enjoyed the close colour relationships that change subtly across the weave journey so much that together we opted to make a virtue of the full span of the sampler style for the LUACHANNA cushions.
We are delighted not only with the outcomes of this collaboration – the stunning wall hangings and cushions – but also by the process of working in partnership with Russell and Oona at PINCH, who have shown a rare understanding and commitment to the journey from concept and design to finished product. It has been a true and rewarding exchange of enthusiasm as well as knowledge of each other’s craft.
All photographs ©Tara Fisher