Tag Archives: artisan spotlight

Meet The Creator of Loome: Vilasinee Bunnag!

We get to work with so many amazing and inspiring creators here at The Woolery. Vilasinee Bunnag is one of the co-creators of the Loome. We recently started to carry some of the Loome tools and we love how accessible they make weaving for everyone! Vilasinee was nice enough to take some time to answer some of our burning questions about her life as a creator.

Vilasinee Bunnag creator of Loome

Tell me the story of the Loome, when and how did you first come up with the idea for it? 

The design of the original Loome tool was inspired by the medival tool called the lucet. This tool was used to make cords and braids. The Loome tool’s co-inventor and I took this ancient device and evolved its functionality so it could be used beyond making cords. This was the starting point, revisiting the past to create some thing for today’s makers.

What is the design process like for Loome tools? Do you have several shapes that you tried that just wouldn’t work out?

 I’ve always been drawn to design, particularly modern design for every day living. I love when design is married with utility to bring beauty and practicality together – it’s the best. The design process of the Loome tools included five steps: sketching, digitizing, prototyping in cardboard, testing (look and feel, user feedback, sizing) and prototyping. After each test, I go back to the drawing board to make adjustments based on the feedback and repeat the design steps. Designing is such a rewarding process and it’s taught me to be open-minded to every thing. What looks good on the computer can feel off in 3D and vice versa. This was particularly true for the rectangular and round shapes which didn’t make it to production. There has been nine designs altogether and we settled with four which offers a little some thing for every one depending on the aesthetic you like. I usually tell people, it’s like the iPhone, there are different colors but they all do the same thing. In this case, it’s the shape.

Overall, it took three months of prototyping plus twelve months of on-going refinement the tool from design to production.

 

Vilasinee Bunnag working on designing Loome tools

 

Are you a crafter yourself? What fiber arts do you practice (aside from Loome)? Absolutely! I love making things, especially when I can add them as a special touch to a present. I really enjoy making keepsakes for friends and family. For example, recently I made a housewarming gift for a friend that included a candle, a knotting book and a bundle of tassels made of vintage linen yarn that’s can be hung on a door knob, bed post or mood board. I also love mixing mediums so to keep learning new crafts and techniques, I like taking classes with artists at local studios like Handcraft Studio School and Makers Mess.

Fiber arts wise, weaving and knot making are some thing I really enjoy. I find that they help me focus and reconnect with making things with my hands.

The Loome can also be converted into a slingshot. Was that intentional or just a really excellent side effect? Also who came up with that so we can give them a high five?

This is hilarious isn’t it? I told you I’m totally into multi-functional designs. You can slingshot all the pom poms you make! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people beeline to my booth at craft shows becaus the slingshot was the first thing they saw. I appreciate that the tools evoke a nostalgic toy for people.

Inspiration sources at theloome.com

 

We love all of the inspiration resources for Loome you have on your website, what inspires you personally?
Thank you so much! My biggest inspirations come from other Loome users and artists plus my motivation to use my yarn and craft stash which I have a lot of. All of my Loome projects start one of two ways: to make some thing fun for Loome users or some thing special for a friend or family member. For instance, I made ten woven friendship bracelets for a friend I’ve known for ten years, I picked her favorite colors, pull my yarn, incorporate beads from my craft stash, add in techniques like French knots and start cracking. One of the nicest thing about crafting with the Loome tool is it’s low time commitment and high satisfaction. You can make experiment and some thing sweet in a short amount of time and if it doesn’t work out, you try it with a new yarn, etc.

 

What part of your business are you the most proud of?

I’m so grateful that people like the Loome tools and find them useful. This really inspires me to keep making and sharing. On the business side of this, I feel extremely proud that we’ve been able to provide employment and contribute to the economy as a small business. Loome is also donating 10% of our sales until the end of the year (and possibly longer) to hurricane and flood relief. At the end of the day, these things are the most satisfying outcomes of having a business.

Which is your favorite Loome Model? Or is this like asking you to choose your favorite child? 
Indeed…and I’m so happy there are four to choose from!

 

Vilasinee Bunnag loves pompoms

 

Okay, another hard hitting question: tassel or pom pom?

Oh no! Don’t make me choose. I’m seriously obsessed with both. To me, pom poms are instant happiness and tassels are the best detail that you can add to just about any thing. They can be made with any fiber and they’re always special.

 

And since we are The Woolery, if you could only work with one type of fiber for the rest of your life, which would it be?

Hands down, wool. And I feel like there is a major renaissance going on in the fiber world. I’m in awe of the artists and producers who are spinning, dying and innovating to give us such a stunning array of beautiful wool. There is no better time to work with wool than now. There is so much to learn, enjoy and try.

What are some new things on the horizon that you are excited about?

I have a book coming out in March 2018 with Abrams Books called “Loome Party.” It’s a combination of fundamentals (for 15 types of pom poms, tassels, friendship bracelets, cords and small weavings) and projects for your yarn stash by 15 artists and makers. This is a dream project for me to be able to work with so many wonderful people from Maryanne Moodie to Arounna Khounnoraj to Courtney Cerruti. Second, I’ve been working on tools with prints on them, they’re finally here!

Coming soon, Loome Party

Thanks so much to Vilasinee for taking the time to chat with us. We are super excited to see all of the new things happening at Loome! For now you should definitely check out:

Advertisements

Guest Post: Claudia Chase of Mirrix Looms

We love sharing the stories behind the unique products we’ve sourced from skilled artisans and innovative makers; today, Claudia Chase from Mirrix Looms shares the story of how Mirrix Looms came to be. As a family-owned company ourselves, we take pride in supporting other family-owned small businesses such as Mirrix Looms. We hope you enjoy getting to know them just a little bit better!

Mirrix Looms are bead and tapestry looms for everyone from the novice crafter to the professional artist. These looms are wonderful tools that can help create everything from woven wall-hangings to beaded bracelets to purses and any combination of fiber and beads you can think of. Mirrix Looms are primarily meant for tapestry weaving, bead weaving and bead and fiber combination. The concept behind weaving beads or tapestry is fairly simple, though techniques and possibilities abound – below are just a few of our free project patterns available on our website:

Crystal and Bead Cuff

Crystal and Bead Cuff

bluehibiscus

Scribble and Heart Mini-Tapestries

Scribble and Heart Mini-Tapestries

Woven Smartphone Case

Woven Smartphone Case

In 1995, I was a stay-at-home mom in Wisconsin who spent all of her free time weaving tapestries sold through galleries and commissions. I wasn’t exactly getting rich, but that wasn’t the point. I just loved weaving and it fit into my lifestyle.

Tapestry by Claudia Chase

Tapestry by Claudia Chase

By then, I owned two large vertical tapestry looms and a metal Hagen loom (which is no longer imported to the U.S.) None of these loom was small enough to be considered portable, and I found myself wishing some something small and light which I could carry in a bag on my shoulder and that would not scream: “This lady is hauling around some big piece of strange equipment and now we can all stare while she whips it out and weaves a few lines.” So I talked to a friend’s husband who was quite handy and we came up with the first prototype for the Mirrix Loom (which looks nothing like the current Mirrix, incidentall): it was made of metal tubes and had no shedding device, but it was little and portable, although not particularly attractive. I think I still have it somewhere. It was fine, but it wasn’t what I wanted.

Soon after, another friend’s husband came along and, after much discussion, he put together the loom which truly was the Mirrix prototype. Made from items he had in his garage, scraps of metal from the fire truck company where he was employed, the Mirrix prototype was made from copper (plumbing pipes), aluminum (fire truck trim), steel threaded rods (from the local hardware store). The black tray that holds the spring was also some kind of fire truck trim; a few bolts here and there, and we had THE FIRST MIRRIX LOOM!

Tapestry by Claudia Chase

Tapestry by Claudia Chase

But there was one problem:  it had neither shedding device or legs. We spent hours discussing those two pieces. While the first legs look just like the legs we use today, the first shedding device did not have those fancy hand-milled brass pins our current models have to hold the bars – instead, it had funky little wire things.

We also hadn’t yet designed the clips that hold on the shedding device; instead,  we had a complicated and not very functional system made from off-the-shelf hardware store parts. However, within six months, we had a loom that, to the untrained eye, looks just like the Mirrix of today.

Six months after Mirrix was just a gleam in my eye, we were in business! I still wasn’t sure that I wanted to be in business, as I am a naturally shy person who hates making cold calls, but somehow it has all worked out. We got an 800 number, credit card capability and even a web site – one of the first loom web sites in existence, in fact!

Tapestry by Claudia Chase

Tapestry by Claudia Chase

A lot of people ask me where the name Mirrix came from. The short answer? I made it up! It was a combination of a couple Latin/Greek words meaning “to wonder at, to mirror” – I stuck the “ix” on the end, and that was that!

I had known that when we started Mirrix, we would be leaving Wisconsin , but that the looms would still be manufactured there. Sure enough, in June of 1996, my family and I moved back to New Hampshire. Before leaving, I convinced three key people to do three different things:

  1. A very well-established yarn/equipment catalogue/retailer to began to our looms;
  2. Another well-established retailer of fiber stuff took our looms to Convergence;
  3. And a well-known and wonderful tapestry teacher endorsed our loom.

The movers came  and we packed the kids and all the various other family members into two cars and drove to New Hampshire in two days. When we arrived and plugged in our phone, I got our first 800 number call from a customer asking to order a 16″ loom (which, along with the 32 inch loom made up the entire Mirrix fleet). I asked how they had heard of us, and  they said that they saw the loom at Convergence! My next question was why they did not buy the loom at the show, and the answer took me by surprise: because all 16 looms that were there had sold out in three days!

We were obviously in business, and I was elated!

This is just the beginning of the Mirrix Loom story; we’ll share more with you at a later date. Thanks for joining us! 

All the best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery team

Artisan Spotlight: Dave Yocom of Dywood Creations

We love sharing the stories behind the unique products we’ve sourced from skilled artisans and makers; one of our most recent additions is handcrafted Yarn Bowls from woodworker Dave Yocom. Each bowl is on-of-a-kind and made from all natural woods. There are no dyes or stains used in making the bowls, allowing the wood grains to show off their natural beauty.  We recently took a few moments to chat with Dave to learn more about the story behind this distinctive item.

DaveintheShop1. How did you get started woodworking?

I actually started in Junior High School and learned to really love working on a lathe. I was not able to continue that love until 16 years ago and thats when the lathe work became a passion. Turning a plain looking piece of wood and seeing the patterns and wood grains show up is exhilarating.

2. What was the creation process like for the yarn bowls? Are you a knitter or crocheter yourself?

My wife, a spinner and knitter, got me started making Yarn Bowls. We were at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby, OR and she dragged me over to a friend’s booth picked up a yarn bowl and handed it to me and said “you can make these.” So I started making the yarn bowls making some enhancements and adding my own flair to the bowls.

YWC-BOWL-3.detail3. How long does it take you to make one bowl?

This is a question I get asked all the time, there is no easy answer. I can turn and finish a simple bowl in 30 minutes, however, I then have to cut the “J”, and and apply another finish. The more complex bowls take much longer to glue up and let dry before turning.

4. Where do you source materials? Do you have a preferred wood or material?

The easy answer to this question is “anywhere I can”. I have several friends that give me wood from their property, the rest I purchase from local suppliers.
I do not really have a preferred wood as I really enjoy seeing the different wood grains POP out at me.

 

YWC-BOWL-6.detail

 

We look forward to sharing more artisan spotlights with you in the future. Thanks for joining us!

All the best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery team