The Handmade Difference: Studio Four Handwovens

MEET SORAYA SHAH, OUR IN HOUSE DREAM WEAVER, MAKER OF MAGICAL TEXTILES AND ALL AROUND INSPIRING ARTISAN. SORAYA SHARES WITH US HOW SHE FOUND HER WAY INTO WEAVING AND GIVES US A GLIMPSE INTO THE PROCESS THAT INSPIRES HER CREATIONS.  

HOW DID YOU FIRST BECOME INTERESTED IN WEAVING?

I grew up moving a lot and spent quite a few years in countries along the Andes mountains where there was a big presence of weaving. I felt the fabrics looked like drawings made from yarn, this idea has stuck with me over the years. Cloth is often used as a metaphor for life, I live a very full and colorful one and enjoy representing that in the textiles I weave.

DID YOU STUDY WEAVING IN SCHOOL OR IS IT SOMETHING YOU’VE MASTERED ON YOUR OWN OVER THE YEARS?

A bit of both! I went to Savannah College of Art and Design with the intention of studying Illustration but once there my work started taking on an unexpected direction and a counselor suggested I try a Fibers class. I did and never turned back. I fell completely in love with working with and creating fabrics, particularly the repetitive motions of screen-printing, felting and embroidery. Of course weaving was my absolute favorite. I've been creating custom fabrics for well over 11 years but I love that I'm always learning something new. 

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE FIBERS YOU ARE WORKING WITH AT THE MOMENT?

Silk is usually at the top of the list, but lately I've been leaning more towards merino wool and alpaca tweeds. This might have something to do with it being Fall. 

IS THERE A COLOR PALETTE YOU FEEL DRAWN TO LATELY?

Most of this year I've been working with very light and neutral colors with a focus on texture. It's been fun but challenging since I have a natural tendency to focus on bold color and pattern. While working with a softer neutral palette, lately I've started integrating some color, mostly celadon and ocher tones. 

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHEN YOU ARE WORKING ON THE LOOM? WHAT IS YOUR GO TO MIX?

Having a studio in a busy showroom can get distracting so when I'm sitting at the loom I often have on headphones blasting metal. It's always been my go to when it comes to weaving. Lately I have Wolves in The Throne Room, Deafheaven and King Woman on rotation. Every once in a while I still make a little time for Mariah Carey. 

WE KNOW IT IS HARD TO CHOOSE A FAVORITE- BUT IS THERE A PROJECT THAT YOU FOUND PARTICULARLY EXCITING AND MEMORABLE?

I recently made some fabrics for a Kelly Wearstler project. It's always fun to see how clients will take what I make and apply it to their vision, so often these fabrics end up in design situations I'd never imagine. Kelly's bold color sensibility and playful design aesthetic is something that I truly admire and was thrilled to see the finished product. 

WHAT'S COMING NEXT?

We have just started making my fabrics into pillows which are for sale here and in the showroom. I am really excited about this because it allows clients to add the luxurious texture of handwoven textiles to their projects without having to commit to the longer lead times and minimum orders that my made to order fabrics have. Who doesn't appreciate a little instant gratification when design shopping?