Small Business Friday with Angie Parker
It occurred to me (not so long ago, I have to admit) that rugs are a really big ally to your decorating plans. They are so versatile too. They come in a variety of colours and designs, they can be customised to your desired size and they can decorate your walls as well as offer warmth underfoot. So what's not to like about them!? This week I am catching up with weaver and rug designer Angie Parker whose colourful rugs incorporate neon colours and geometric shapes, making them extremely suitable for many contemporary settings.
Needless to say, award winning Angie is a fellow colour lover as you will see below. Her vibrant textiles derive from traditional Scandinavian rug weaving techniques. Working in reclaimed high quality rug wool, Angie meticulously hand-weaves and finishes all the pieces herself on her Glimakra Floor loom at BV Studios in Bristol.
Angie Parker, photo by Kitty Wheeler Shaw
Angie, what first attracted you to weaving?
I had intended to study embroidery when I was offered a place at Cumbria College of Art in the early 90's, but a serendipitous error placed me in a rug weaving workshop there. Within 10 minutes I was smitten and knew at that point weaving would be part of my life-always.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I find the materials and techniques a huge source of inspiration in themselves. My studio is crammed with yarns of different colours and textures which I've built up over the years. When I'm sampling new designs, I simply play with these and see what spills out onto the loom.
The rug weaving technique I've specialised in so far, Krokbragd, lends itself perfectly to this and I doubt I'll ever tire of weaving this style.
Photo: Yeshen Venema
Photo: Yeshen Venema
Who/ what influences your colourful designs and what does colour mean to you?
Colour has always played a huge part in everything I weave. Growing up, I was drawn to Artists who alluded to colour in their work such as Chagall, Matisse or Rothko and designers Versace and Missoni.
Living in India for a year in 2006 took my already adventurous approach to a new level. It was impossible not to respond to being surrounded by vivid colour combinations, intensified by brilliant sunlight. This experience has fed into all my subsequent work.
Retuning to the UK, I am fortunate that my neighbourhood is also pretty colourful. It's home to Europes largest urban street art festival, Upfest, and practically every day I discover a new piece of graffiti on my walk to work, which gives me a daily fix of uplifting bold clashing colour. These in turn, play out on my loom.
My intention is to fill interiors with these uplifting colours, and as not everyone who likes my work wants to invest in a one-off bespoke rug woven by me, I've created a limited edition rug collection of my most popular design so that more people can have a blast of colour in their homes.
Photo: Angie on the loom. By Jefferson Photography
Photo: Alice Jane Hend
How important are your travels to drawing inspiration and sourcing new hues?
The time in India was obviously significant, and I'll always thankful for that opportunity, but travel isn't as vital for finding inspiration. Or rather, I don't have to go 1000's of miles to find a good source -there's inspiration everywhere if you're receptive to it.
Do you have any favourite colour combinations?
I adore lime green and think it looks fabulous with everything! Clients usually requested lime in their commissions and love the choices they like to pair it with.
In my exhibition pieces I often combine the most unsettling colours I can get my hands on and then create harmony by adding in shades that brings it all together. I'll sometimes throw in some neon to emphasise favourite patterns. Obviously this isn't everyones taste, but the people who love it REALLY love it.
Photos: Yeshen Venema
What attracts you to neon colours in particular?
I love the way neons heighten the colours around them. They just take everything to a new level.
What is the most exciting project you have ever worked on?
Outsourcing my Bodacious design for my new limited edition rug collection has got to be up there. Seeing a photo of somebody else weaving 'my' rug was a strange feeling and it marked the point when I first felt like a designer as well as a craft maker - quite a liberating feeling.
I also had the fortunate opportunity to collaborate with Brintons Carpets on a project for Campaign for Wool last year. This was exciting as we had a pretty fast turn around and managed to take a carpet I'd designed from sketchbook through to fitting in just 6 weeks.
I think these two were exciting as it was the first time I hadn't done all the weaving myself and I'm looking forward to more of this as my practice continues to grow. That said, nothing can take away from the joy I feel when I weave in my studio and this will always remain the heart and soul of my business.
Photo: Yeshen Venema
When you design your rugs, do you have a particular client in mind?
For my one off pieces, oddly not. I think my business would have grown more quickly if I had, but I pride myself on not having a typical business. It's important that I love what I'm weaving as this shows in the finished piece and thats what my work is really about.
In the early days I used to joke that if I loved the design then at least I'd know one person did! Fortunately, others do in fact share my taste, and as my profile has grown I'm discovering more and more of these wonderfully clients, themselves as niche as my statement rugs.
For my first limited edition rug however, I choose a design that was typical of my style and had in mind a client who would be looking for something a little bit out of the ordinary.
What does your typical day look like?
I cram most of my work into the 6 hours my kids are at primary school. Typically, I walk to the studio for 3-4 luxurious hours of weaving and use the remainder for marketing and other essential desk based business tasks before school pick up. It's an alarmingly short day, though I often work for a few hours in the evening to keep on top of things.
Exhibiting at trade shows are my mini-breaks and research and networking days also keep my energy levels up. Luckily, I'm surrounded by an amazing bunch of makers which provides a fabulous, mutually beneficial support network.
What is the most difficult part of being a female entrepreneur?
Interesting question. Being self employed and a parent to 3 daughters is sometimes challenging, but I'd say there's never been a better time to be a female entrepreneur. I'm particularly happy that my girls have grown up seeing their Mum doing a job she loves and is good at. This thought alone can keep me going through a tricky spell.
I'm also lucky to count some amazing role models as friends and basically there is a lot of support if you know where to look. I'd say the biggest issue is time (not enough), and having confidence in yourself, which does come if you stick at things.
Photo: Yeshen Venema
What is your own interiors style?
I love minimalist bare concrete, (warmed up with exquisitely woven textiles, of course) and would quite happily live in a contemporary art gallery.
Alas, the 4 other people I live with aren't quite on board with that, so we instead have walls of art works from our time in India, simple ercol furniture, shelves crammed with books and a few spaces where I display my growing collection of Contemporary ceramics.