MEET Deborah

Deborah Lewis-Idema

Since my youth, I have been fascinated with fabric, but never thought of actually creating cloth until I fell in love with Navaho blankets during visits to the Southwest in the 1980s. Although I have studied various weaving techniques in workshops, I am primarily self-taught. I bought my first loom in the mid-1990s and over the years have developed unique and intricate weave structures, often inspired by my musical background. My primary interest is in wearable art that enhances both the body and mood of the wearer. I work with a variety of fibers—from traditional (cotton, chenille, and silk) to “eco-friendly” fibers, (tencel, bamboo and soy).

Most of my projects begin with color—selecting yarns with harmonious tones and then choosing a weave structure that shows these colors to best advantage. My hand-dyed projects are entirely spontaneous. I begin by dyeing the warp (lengthwise threads) in colors that fit my mood that day. Later, I put the warp on the loom, view the way the colors blend and experiment with different weft (widthwise threads) colors and weave patterns until the right one emerges.

The major exception to this approach is the “suite” of Harmonic Handwovens. Musical compositions provide the inspiration for designing complex fabrics that (hopefully) evoke the tone and mood of a particular composer or style of music. For example, the Mostly Mozart design was inspired by the opening measures of Mozart’s 15th piano sonata. I developed a pattern of small black “notes” that dance, like arpeggios, across the fabric. Since Mozart’s music is light and airy, I chose spring colors—the yellow and orange of daffodils and green of new leaves.