Red Curls & Historic Textiles

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This sunny, Friday afternoon, I had the joy of talking with textile designer and fiber artist, Sara Wynn. Sara is a senior at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). You can find Sara and her firey red hair watching Gilmore Girls and embroidering on world maps, most likely under a yellow, knitted blanket.

Sara welcomed me into her warm-hued room, her original work hanging on the walls, some of which are on their way to become her senior collection. We sat down on her white and yellow covered bed, as I glanced at some of her senior collection pieces.

Zany Lady: So, how did this whole concept start?

Sara Wynn: Honestly, I was playing around with ideas, just sampling, and I bought this map, and I didn’t know what to do with it. I love embroidery, and have a bunch of embroidery hoops, so I started sticking the hoops onto the map, manipulating it through that, and this beautiful piece came from it. So I thought to myself, okay, how can I explore this piece more, without being cliche, and just maps. I began exploring other things I was interested in, and I’m really interested in history, and the history of fabric and textiles, so I wanted to delve deeper into the textiles of each country that I was looking at, and that’s when I took some fabric that I already had from different countries and started manipulating them with embroidery yarn. From that, I came up with the idea of taking old motifs and colors and styles, and trying to bring it back and make them new again.

ZL: Tell me about your weaving samples.

SW: Eventually, end goal, end product, senior collection, I’m going to have digital patterns for the home, so patterns for wallpaper and bedding and stuff like that, and then I did 10 woven samples, for pillows mostly, or blankets, that compliment the digital patterns. Each pattern collection is based off of one country, so one country will have an entire digital collection, and an entire woven collection. So the woven samples are samples from the woven collections.

ZL: How did you choose the countries you used on each collection?

SW: Once you start studying textiles, there are some staple textile countries, which are India, Italy, Turkey, and China, and those are the ones I started with. I also wanted to incorporate countries that people don’t necessarily know the history of, of textiles at least. That’s when I broadened my countries to Australia, Russia, Africa, Peru, Colonial North America. I chose countries on the map that were either far away from each other, or countries that I wanted to learn about. It started out super focused and then became random, countries I wanted to learn about.

ZL: How can people look at your work, and pick out the Sara? What is your staple style or aesthetic?

SW: Definitely old, traditional, embroidery. I’ve always loved maps and traveling, so I have pictures of me from all over the world, and souvenirs from those places, building my textiles from around the world, so definitely incorporating historical, traditional, and embroidery.

ZL: Where do you think that aesthetic will take you after graduation?

SW: I would love to work in the wovens industry, weaving upholstery, and wovens that can be upholstery that can be bedding, blankets, and stuff like that. I love the digital aspect, but I really love the hands-on aspect. I still want to work for a corporate company to produce, I don’t want to be just a fine artist, I want to combine it and be hands-on, and still produce a product at the same time.

ZL: What companies would fall under that category?

SW: Loloi Rugs, who I did an internship with over the summer, with rugs, and I fell in love with the rug industry. Anthropologie does some wovens, I would love to do stuff for them. Even some big name companies, almost all of them, have a wovens section. Whether it be me just designing woven’s on the computer, or if I were physically helping with something, I would gravitate more toward that.

ZL: How do you design woven’s on the computer?

SW: There’s a specific program for it, called WeavePoint. At least at SCAD, we choose the heddles and treadles and all of these things to create an outline design of what it’s going to look like. You’ll see that on the computer, and then you’ll translate that onto the loom. In a more corporate world, the weaves (like for Loloi rugs) are designed in Photoshop and Illustrator. So you’ll have the design of the rug, and then a technical side of it, blocking out some of the details, and highlighting some of the structures being woven in. Both of those files would then be sent to the weaver. For almost every weave, it starts on the computer.

ZL: So, what’s your ultimate vision for your work?

SW: I’m imagining a room with my wallpaper, and then a blanket draped over a couch with some accent pillows with my patterns thrown on the couch. People will ask about the wallpaper, and that gives someone the opportunity to share some of the insights about the history of that collection. It’s definitely a conversation starter, and it makes people learn. I don’t want these ideas and motifs to be lost. Right now, all of the history is in textbooks, which is great, but I want to bring it out into the world, let people learn while they look at something beautiful.

Find out more about Sara Wynn and her work at and follow her on instagram at @saradaywynn.



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