Conversations with the Makers

An array of questions to fibre/textile artists and their answers.

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Conversation with Kay Faulkner, Australia

Kay Faulkner has been a full time weaver for over 30 years. She comes from a background of Home Economic teaching where she initially majored in textiles and holds a master weaver’s accreditation. Throughout her career whether it has been weaving for production, limited run or art textiles, the ability to create unique hand woven cloth is the prime focus of her studio practice. She is committed to research and enjoys pushing the boundaries. Recognising the need to pass on knowledge she teaches locally, nationally and internationally. She is currently head of the weaving studio at Sturt, the centre for contemporary craft and design arts in Mittagong, New South Wales, Australia. 

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Conversation with the Makers (CWTM) Did you always envision a life as an artist?

Fay Faulkner (KF) Being some form of maker has always been a part of my life... but I never expected to be doing what I do today. It has been an extraordinary journey.


CWTM What was your first experience with making art?

KF Let’s say making art/craft as both have informed who I am. I have very early memories of creating in various mediums. As children we were always encourage to be making something.

 CWTM Do you have a dedicated studio?

KF I have a studio at home and use Sturt’s weaving studio while I am there. I am currently artist in residence at Sturt.


CWTM Can you describe a typical day?

KF Paperwork first up works for me and usually it is over breakfast. Sometimes it’s just a simple matter of catching up on emails, while at other times it involves much more. Then I will usually spend the rest of the day in the studio either designing, weaving or finishing. Days are usually long and it is rare that I’d leave before 9.00.

CWTM Would you consider your art making to be more about the process than the outcome?

KF Both are important.

CWTM Do you agree that a small element of uncertainty about the finished look is what makes the process of creating so enticing?

KF Sometimes yes, but having a piece turn out exactly how it was intended is also equally enticing.


CWTM Any indispensable tools or equipment?

KF I love my looms from the basic 8 shaft through to computer assisted ones and a draw loom. 

CWTM Do your pieces start with a planned course of action or are they more spontaneous?

KF Very much planned, but sometimes I’ll put a warp on and I’ll change something in the warping and/or weaving.


CWTM How do you know when to “stop” – when do you consider a piece actually finished?

KF There are several stages when it is important to know when to stop: dyeing (now that’s just way too much fun sometimes), designing, and the actual finishing. Each project has a point when hopefully I recognise that it is “finished”.


CWTM Your greatest source of inspiration is….

KF It depends on what I’m doing and what I’m working on. A specific project may well encourage me to look at different sources for inspiration. An open mind is very important.

CWTM Favourite quote?

KF If a things worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Mum would always say that to us as kids. 

CWTM When do you do your best creative thinking?

KF It varies but sometimes while weaving a project, especially if all decision making has been done and it is just process at that point. But ideas sometimes float into my head at odd times. It is important to have access to paper and pen to jot them down... even in the middle of the night. I have a collection of paper and pen in strategic places.. beside the bed, in the car, beside the phone etc.


CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work?

KF Taking a collection of yarns and making cloth. 

CWTM Best advice you’ve ever received?

KF If you want to do it, do it. 

CWTM Worst advice you’ve ever received?

KF I can’t remember but hopefully I ignored it.


CWTM Best part of your day?

KF I love mornings and the anticipation of getting into the studio. 

CWTM Who would be 6 people that you would invite to dinner?

KF I enjoy having good friends together. 

CWTM What inspires your creativity?

KF I think being creative encourages creativity. The mere act of doing provides stimulus for the next. It is sometimes difficult to get started from scratch.

Often what I am doing will inform the next but having said that I do look beyond what I am doing. Outside stimulus is sometimes good but it can also interrupt a train of thought.


CWTM What are you excited about right now in the world of textile art?

KF In general I am always excited by what I see others are doing. As to anything specific I really can’t think of anything specifically. 

CWTM You’d be lost without…

KF Weaving or possibly more importantly, the ability to create. 

CWTM What would you do with a few extra hours each day? 

KF Weave of course…. Or design.


CWTM Your favourite luxury in life? 

KF Time or maybe travel for research. 

CWTM Has the advancement of computers and technology impacted your work?

KF I use a computer assisted loom and computer to prepare drafts.. so yes. On the other hand I also acquired a draw loom as a reaction to having the odd computer problem, so in this case it was in reaction against the world of technology. 


CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work?

KF I really do enjoy all stages but in total it is the ability to create uniquely handwoven cloth.


CWTM Is it important for us to be recognized by the art world and if so, how can we help affect that change?

KF Oh the old conflict of what is art or craft. Both cannot exist without the other. I wish the powers that be would recognise it. I think it’s important to just keep putting work “out there” and in as diverse a range of places as possible.


CWTM What is next for you?

KF More teaching, writing and exhibiting.