Artist | Crafter Interview with Weaver Rebecca Riel from Riel Finishings

Artist | Crafter Interview with Weaver Rebecca Riel from Riel Finishings #weaving #wallhanging #moderndecor #homedecor #apartmenttherapy #wovenwallhangings #etsy #etsyfinds

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It’s my pleasure to introduce Rebecca Riel from Riel Finishings! You can follow her on Instagram, as well as check out her Etsy shop and website. 

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Can you tell me about yourself, your journey with weaving, and the story behind your shop? What’s life like in Manitoba, Canada and the balance between being an artist/crafter and a mother?  

My name is Rebecca Riel, but most people call me Becca. I have degrees in Political Science and Social Work, but after having my son two years ago, I decided not to go back to work. At the time we were living in a very small town in rural Manitoba and childcare was limited. While on my extended mat leave, I became a little stir crazy and got really into DIY projects. I actually started with woodworking and re-finishing furniture. Until that time (like many other people I’m sure!), I had always said “I’m not the creative type.” I now realize it’s not that I wasn’t creative – it’s that I had never given myself the opportunity to BE creative.

Artist | Crafter Interview with Weaver Rebecca Riel from Riel Finishings #weaving #wallhanging #moderndecor #homedecor #apartmenttherapy #wovenwallhangings #etsy #etsyfinds

I had always excelled in academia, but never explored my artistic side. As I got further down the DIY rabbit hole, I started signing up for some workshops – one of which was weaving. I have to tell you that I was a disaster at my first workshop! I tangled my warp thread so bad, even the teacher was surprised (haha)! In any event, I fell in love that day – despite the fact that it didn’t come naturally to me at first. So I took my loom home and slowly traded my woodworking projects for fiber projects. I had the idea to try to weave a map in the shape of my home province of Manitoba and suddenly people were asking to buy them. It started with friends and family but sort of organically grew into something else. Last fall, after much encouragement from loved ones, I gathered up the courage to open up an Etsy shop and haven’t looked back. That’s how Riel Finishings was born. It’s pretty much the ideal job for me! I’m someone who has struggled a lot with anxiety in my life, and I find weaving so therapeutic. The fact that I get to do it as my job now is just unreal to me!

Artist | Crafter Interview with Weaver Rebecca Riel from Riel Finishings #weaving #wallhanging #moderndecor #homedecor #apartmenttherapy #wovenwallhangings #etsy #etsyfinds

How do I balance being a mother and an artist? In short, not very well! I am so grateful for how busy I have been since my shop opened. That said, sometimes it gets a little overwhelming. We have had to seek some childcare for my son, just so I can keep up – and most of the time I still feel way behind. My house is usually messy and I don’t cook as often as I’d like. That said, I wake up every day being so grateful for this opportunity and the growth I’ve experienced!

Artist | Crafter Interview with Weaver Rebecca Riel from Riel Finishings #weaving #wallhanging #moderndecor #homedecor #apartmenttherapy #wovenwallhangings #etsy #etsyfinds

Can you tell me a little bit about your ‘mapestries’? How did you term that awesome phrase?! 

The most popular items I sell at the moment are “mapestries” (map + tapestry). While I began weaving maps of my own province of Manitoba, gradually I started getting requests for other states and provinces. The term “mapestry” came to me one night at 3am when I was up with my son. It literally just popped into my head, in a rare moment of genius!

Fresh week, fresh warp. Get it, hustle, go 👊🏻! 📷: @jfphotoanddesign

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What kinds of yarn and looms do you use and recommend?

Yarns: I love using a variety of textures in my tapestries. My favourite yarns to work with are hand spun and hand dyed, which I source from other small shops around the world. I’m also passionate about using recycled and reclaimed fiber in my work. You can frequently find denim, mudcloth, and recycled wool in my tapestries. They look unreal, and are also better for the environment. In terms of yarn I would recommend, it really depends on your textural preferences. I would caution against using anything acrylic, because it totally messes with your tension. Some of my favourite yarns to weave with are from: Knit Collage, Fly Yarns, Love Fest Fibers, Divinity Fibers, and Silk Divine.

Artist | Crafter Interview with Weaver Rebecca Riel from Riel Finishings #weaving #wallhanging #moderndecor #homedecor #apartmenttherapy #wovenwallhangings #etsy #etsyfinds

Looms: I have a LOT of looms! Some of them are handmade, but my favourites are from Lost Pond Looms and Funem Studio. Both companies make excellent looms in a variety of sizes – really perfect if you’re just starting out.

Artist | Crafter Interview with Weaver Rebecca Riel from Riel Finishings #weaving #wallhanging #moderndecor #homedecor #apartmenttherapy #wovenwallhangings #etsy #etsyfinds

 What have been some of your favorite projects and commissions?  

I was recently commissioned by a resort in Manitoba to weave some tapestries for their suites. This commission was the first larger-scale order I’ve ever received, which was a huge milestone for my business. The catch is that they wanted me to weave a buffalo. Yes, I said buffalo and I’m not talking about the place, I’m talking about the animal! When I read the request, I instantly panicked! If you have some familiarity with weaving, you know that some shapes are more difficult than others. I figured there was no way I could do this tastefully, but I challenged myself to give it a try. To my complete surprise, it turned out really well and I’m proud I was able to push through that challenge. I’m somebody who has always been a little insecure. I worry about failure and about what others think of me, and the thing about art is that there’s no room for those fears. You have to push through them. I try a lot of different things and they don’t always work out, but that’s okay, because sometimes they do and it’s magic!

Artist | Crafter Interview with Weaver Rebecca Riel from Riel Finishings #weaving #wallhanging #moderndecor #homedecor #apartmenttherapy #wovenwallhangings #etsy #etsyfinds

Artist | Crafter Interview with Weaver Rebecca Riel from Riel Finishings #weaving #wallhanging #moderndecor #homedecor #apartmenttherapy #wovenwallhangings #etsy #etsyfinds

Do you have any advice for artists and crafters just getting into weaving?  

I don’t have much in the way of advice for new artists, because, well, I myself am still so new! I would have to say that it’s really important to find your own voice as an artist/weaver, which sometimes means pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. When I put on my artist hat, I try not to let the rational/analytical side of my brain rule, and instead follow my heart and my gut. Sometimes that is the scariest feeling, it means being totally vulnerable and putting yourself out there, but you will never know what’s possible until you take risks. If you would have told me when I first opened my shop that by April I would have a waiting list of commissions, I would have laughed in your face.  So I suppose at the end of the day, it’s really important to believe in yourself and just keep weaving. Oh, and never take yourself too seriously! Weaving is all about exploring different fibers and textures – it’s as much about the journey as it is about the final tapestry.

*Some photos featured in this post were taken by talented photographer Janique
Fortier, see her website here

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Weavings and Wall Hangings by Riel Finishings #weaving #wallhanging #moderndecor #homedecor #apartmenttherapy #wovenwallhangings #etsy #etsyfinds

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Learn how to weave your first woven wall hanging in this Skillshare class!




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Interview with Artist Taylor Mason from Mason Makers

It is my pleasure to introduce Taylor Mason from the Mason Makers Etsy shop! Taylor and her husband Ryan are both designers living in Portland, Oregon and run their Etsy shop together, please visit their shop and their website to show some love after the interview! You can also follow Taylor on Instagram @taylormasondesign.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art?

I am a graphic designer and painter living in Portland, OR. Art has always been fascinating to me, as a kid I played movies in the background and poured over library books, trying to replicate the sketches I studied. I was in love with the magic of creating, to see a pencil sketch come to life and create an illusion on paper was mesmerizing to me.

Today my passion for drawing and painting has only continued to progress. I love painting in oils and gouache. I primarily create landscapes and animals from my travels. I love plein air painting as well, there is something peaceful and challenging about being in the middle of nature and attempting to capture the light and colors in the moment.

Where do you draw your inspiration from for your oil paintings? What draws you to painting in miniature?

My inspiration for my paintings comes primarily through my travels. Locations such as Wyoming, Maui, Canada, California and Montana offer sweeping fields, large open skies, mountains, desert plateau’s, lava fields and rainforests. There is so much variation in nature and I find inspiration everywhere I visit.

I decided to paint in miniature when I ran across interesting wood rounds in a craft store. I like how small they are and how painting or staining the edges can mimic the frames of larger classical paintings. I’ve also found that people enjoy owning smaller, more affordable pieces, in contrast to larger commissions.

How did your series on Maui come into being?

My Maui series came to be through my trip to Hawaii last spring. I’ve visited the island several times, but on this trip because I’ve been more focused on painting landscapes, my eyes were more attuned to noticing details I hadn’t before. One thing I enjoy is the variety of climates in a relatively small area. Visiting volcanoes, rainforests, coastlines and wildlife provided me with an abundance of inspiration, and led to this series.

Can you speak to the creative partnership between you and your husband?

I met my husband Ryan through the graphic design program at our university. His humor and love for drawing really captured my attention. Today we enjoy sharing creative time side-by-side, sitting at our desks in the evenings as he draws comics and I sketch or paint. We also enjoy creative days outdoors where I paint en plein air and he sketches beside me. Ryan challenges and encourages me on a daily basis, helping me with my compositions and not letting me take shortcuts. I’m thankful to have a spouse who values creativity just as much as I do and enjoy pursuing our passions together.

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Artist Interview with Kathy Crabbe | Spirit Animals

It’s my pleasure to introduce artist Kathy Crabbe! During this interview, Kathy will speak directly about her Spirit Animal series and her artistic process. Make sure to show her some support by visiting her website and following her on Instagram @kathycrabbeart and Facebook.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art?  

I am a self taught painter since knee high to a grasshopper (love that saying!). I was always an artist and decided at a young age that I didn’t want to go to a fine art school because I had a style all my own and I didn’t want anyone messing with that since I tend to be easily influenced. I always wanted to attend both university and college and I’ve done that. I have an Art History degree and a 3 year diploma in Graphic Design. I moved to the States after falling in love with my husband-to-be and he convinced me I could live my passion and be an artist full time so we moved to Laguna Beach and I started doing the Sawdust Art Festival; a 2 month art fair where you build a booth and sell your wares 7 days a week, 12 hours a day. That was amazing! After 7 years we moved to the quiet countryside outside of Temecula Wine Country and I was pretty much a hermit for many years which allowed me to delve into the spiritual side of things which has found its way into my art, of course! I paint magical, shamanic beings, nature and animals because they surround me and I’m one of them.

Where do you draw your inspiration from for your Spirit Animal paintings? Does storytelling and narrative play into them?

I live in 2 countries; my home country of Canada (Ontario) and my adopted country, the USA (California) and both homes are on dirt roads surrounded by nature; one is in the forest on a lake and the other is in a desert valley surrounded by ancient oaks, cactus and an elfin forest so I’ve got plenty of nature and wild creatures to inspire me on a daily basis. I’m also a Celtic Faerie Shaman and my spirituality is a huge part of my life. My pets are also an inspiration. All of my Spirit Animal paintings would not be complete without the poem that bubbles forth in one quick stream of consciousness right after I finish the painting. Usually it’s late so I light some candles, take off my glasses and let the words pour forth. Originally I started out trying to describe the painting but that quickly morphed into poetry; my favorite mode of expression. The poems speak of the power and guidance we can draw upon from our animal guides and what their message is for us. The wild creatures are our teachers. They help us remember our wild self and are vitally important for our well being and our healing.

Can you tell me a little bit about your painting process and favorite materials? 

My current series of Spirit Animal paintings were initially inspired after I purchased a small pad of 6×6 inch Montreal made watercolor paper in Kingston, Ontario (where I was born). I sat down with that pad of paper surrounded by the sounds of the forest and the water and immediately painted a cat woman with watercolor. That was in the summer of 2016 and I haven’t stopped since. I start with the face using my non dominant left hand because it’s my emotional, intuitive hand. I draw with a large soft piece of lead and the elfin figure that emerges tells me what kind of spirit animal belongs with her. I paint with watercolor and gouache and occasionally acrylic. I especially love Winsor Newton Series 7 brushes, M. Graham and Schminke gouache and Daniel Smith iridescent watercolors.

What has been your favorite achievement or project thus far? Do you have anything new and exciting on the horizon? 

In regards to the Spirit Animal series, I am very proud that I paint them every single day and that I write a poem for each one. I share this on Instagram @kathycrabbeart. On the horizon I look forward to spending more time in the forest with the wild creatures and traveling and hiking more; there are so many wild places to see in this great North American land of ours. I also hope the Spirit Animals will continue to grace more gallery walls with their healing, magical presence.

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