Weberin Handwerk Wolle

'SLOW Interior Design' for your home!

How does this trend translate into an ancient hand craft - the weaving?

Cre­at­ing beau­ti­ful interi­or products with a long-last­ing design for the home is what Mar­tina Podlewski aspires to do. When she sits down at her loom, she cre­ates loc­ally pro­duced rugs and tex­tiles. Mil­li­meter by mil­li­meter, Mar­tina weaves the next table runner or a new rug for the living area on a weft of pure wool or fine linen. Weav­ing a tex­tile by hand guar­an­tees the qual­ity of a long-last­ing product, but it takes time. As a hand weaver, Mar­tina has that per­sever­ance and ded­ic­a­tion.

What is so special about handwoven textiles?

Have you ever dried your hands with a linen towel? Or lounged com­fort­ably in front of a fire­place on a pure wool rug? When Mar­tina talks about her woven interi­or products, you can feel her love for this ancient craft. With her acquired skills she pro­duces unique interi­or products made of nat­ur­al renew­able fibres. Her cus­tom­ers know and appre­ci­ate the char­ac­ter­ist­ics of her linen towels. They absorb a lot of mois­ture and due to the robust­ness of the fiber they are very dur­able. The woven pat­terns mix the fine colors of the warp and the weft so that each tex­tile has a unique char­ac­ter. Martina’s densely woven wool rugs show off beau­ti­fully on a wooden floor. Espe­cially on a cold stone floor her rugs also create a warm­ing island. Each woven interi­or product has its own char­ac­ter and exudes a unique vibrancy.

What natural materials does Martina use?

Mar­tina uses virgin wool from Norway for her rugs. She also buys her linen yarn from a European pro­duc­tion source. The char­ac­ter­ist­ic shim­mer of the linen is due to the smooth sur­face of the nat­ur­al fiber. For her chair cush­ions she uses wool from region­al sheep, fab­ric­ated in North­ern Ger­many. In addi­tion, she also uses a paper yarn made of 100% cel­lu­lose for the edges. Mar­tina thus uses only mater­i­als made from renew­able raw mater­i­als, which are all up-/ recyc­lable. An import­ant theme that Mar­tina has been imple­ment­ing for many years.

Wool carpets with a 'feel good' appeal!

At a time when cheaply pro­duced syn­thet­ic fiber rugs flood the interi­or market, Mar­tina makes a con­scious coun­ter­point with her vari­ous hand­made rug col­lec­tions.

"My choice of mater­i­als and the dens­ity of the weft yarns makes it pos­sible for my hand-woven rugs to be passed on to the next gen­er­a­tion. That's how dur­able and robust wool is and the way I weave it. But it takes a few weeks to finish a rug by hand on the loom. My ‘Ritami’ rug col­lec­tion shows a min­im­al­ist and geo­met­ric design like a Japan­ese tatami mat. Vari­ations around a linear design give each rug a unique design. The nat­ur­al warmth of the wool fiber cre­ates a cosy and warm envir­on­ment. Not only chil­dren enjoy play­ing on my rugs."

How is a hand-woven product created?

When Mar­tina lets her weav­ing shuttle whiz back and forth through the taut warp threads on her 1.8-meter-wide wooden loom, it's a fas­cin­at­ing pro­cess. How can I weave the weft and warp threads togeth­er so that fine tex­tures and struc­tures emerge? Depend­ing on the type of weave Mar­tina chooses, fine 'zigzag twill' pat­terns, colored stripes or the spe­cial 'waffle piqué' look appear on the final tex­tiles. Often, how­ever, the spe­cial nature of the mater­i­al is enough to create an impact like the nat­ur­al colors, the fine sheen of the plant fibers, the soft warm­ing touch of wool. Alone or in effect­ive con­trast, the nat­ur­al mater­i­als give Martina's hand-woven interi­or products that cer­tain buzz.

What does the design phase look like?

Mar­tina delib­er­ately devel­ops long-last­ing designs that retain their value. She tries out colors, pat­terns and com­bin­a­tions making small woven samples, often trans­lat­ing her colored pencil draw­ings for a stripe pat­tern idea. Or she tries out the large-scale stripe sequences of her rugs adap­ted to the dif­fer­ent rug dimen­sions with a digit­al draw­ing. Mar­tina also offers her cus­tom­ers the pos­sib­il­ity to adopt some of their ideas to designs of a carpet rug. Mar­tina com­ple­ments her design ideas with small col­lages and with the color samples from her yarn cata­logues. Ques­tion like: How do my selec­ted colors mix in my fine linen fab­rics? Or how do I add col­or­ful paper yarn accents to the nat­ur­al tones of the sheep wool for my seat­ing cush­ions? Some­times only trial and error on the loom, sketch­ing on a grand scale and her many years of exper­i­ence can help to achieve a spe­cial interi­or design.

Martina’s dream - her own large workshop!

After her High school degree in Cologne, Mar­tina does an intern­ship in a hand weav­ing mill in a coun­try region. Fol­lowed by a 3-year appren­tice time with a handweaver master in a small town 1,5 south of Cologne. She gradu­ates as a jour­ney­wo­man with dis­tinc­tion. Then she works as a group leader in the carpet weav­ing depart­ment of a sheltered work­shop. To gain an even deeper expert­ise of her she attends a 1-year master class at a Craft & Design col­lege. While work­ing at dif­fer­ent tex­tile com­pan­ies as a tex­tile design­er she misses to hand­work on her loom. Weav­ing her own interi­or tex­tiles by hand that is more excit­ing than work­ing in the industry. She con­tin­ues her handweav­ing design pro­ject in her home studio. In 2015 she gets the chance to rent a big work­shop in former Indus­tri­al site on the out­skirts of Cologne. Finally, her dream comes true. Now she has the space for 2 large looms with the quick shot loom system. Now con­ver­sa­tions are no longer pos­sible when Mar­tina is weav­ing her tex­tiles. the shafts clat­ter a lot. Remem­ber: weav­ing has never been a quiet craft!

Exchange and inspiration with other artists

The old indus­tri­al brick halls house the stu­di­os of many dif­fer­ent artists. Con­veni­ently loc­ated on the out­skirt of Cologne. Twice a year, the open studio days offer a great oppor­tun­ity to see the work of paint­ers, sculp­tures and mixed media artists.

"I like to be inspired by the art­works of other artists. Since many people have approached me about 'hand weav­ing work­shops', I am also now offer­ing some 1-day work­shops start­ing in April. I find it excit­ing how other people deal with the topic 'weav­ing'.  I look for­ward to the exchange."

The exper­i­ment­ing 'weav­ing' & the enthu­si­asm for the craft

Some­times Mar­tina just enjoys exper­i­ment­ing with the weav­ing basics. The warp threads form the per­fect frame­work for con­nect­ing dif­fer­ent mater­i­als. This pro­cess cre­ates sur­pris­ing effects. When the stripes of a magazine appear in a linen warp. The vari­ous splashes of color and the prin­ted let­ters come togeth­er to create excit­ing pat­terns - some­times as a wall object or table runner. With her enthu­si­asm for craft, Mar­tina is always open to trying some­thing new. Like she did with the 'Hands on' exper­i­ment at the 'Frieder Burda' museum in Baden-Baden, Ger­many. The Aus­trali­an sis­ters Mar­garet and Christine Wer­theim were look­ing for people to crochet parts of the install­a­tion for their art­work 'Value and Change of the Coral reefs'. Their goal is to gen­er­ate aware­ness about pro­tect­ing the great coral reefs. To phys­ic­ally exper­i­ence how long it takes to crochet one part of the install­a­tion makes one aware of how long it takes for a coral to grow. An import­ant eco­lo­gic­al state­ment and hand­made exper­i­ment based on an ancient craft tech­nique – crochet­ing 

Exper­i­ence Martina's hand­woven interi­or products in her work­shop or in Manuela Lar­rain Lagos' work­shop store 'CucaCu­cai' in down­town Cologne, the beau­ti­ful city with along the Rhine River with the famous cathed­ral.

Name: Mar­tina Podlewski

She is: artis­an hand weaver

She can be found in:

in Cologne, the beau­ti­ful city along the Rhine river, where the Romans built the 2nd biggest city besides Rome

'Sig­nal­werk Frechen', Kölner Straße 29-31, 50226 Frechen, Ger­many

She admires:

  • the writer Alice Munro
  • the cho­reo­graph­er Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker
  • the paint­er Joan Mitchell

Her WIASOLA tip:

Her favor­ite museums:

The Frieder Burda Museum in Baden Baden, South Ger­many

To be found:

She has her studio space in the art center near Cologne city.  About 30 artist have their stu­di­os in the former indus­tri­al site - the 'Sig­nal­werkstatt der Häfen und Güterverkehr Köln AG'.

You can also find a selec­tion of Martina's hand woven tex­tiles in the city center of Cologne _ Werkstattladen ‚CucaCu­cai‘ by Manuela Lar­rain Lagos.

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