When it comes to Instagram, I count myself as one of the lucky ones. Not because I have a huge following and can make money from my account, (far from it actually as I haven’t even reached 2000 followers yet) but because I don’t let myself get hung up on it and I don’t let it drag me in to the comparison game. Social media can be so bad for our mental health and the picture perfect lives that people portray on Instagram can make our own lives feel positively lacking in comparison.
It’s so easy to look at the gorgeous homes of other people and wish that you lived somewhere like that. Victoria of Apartment No 4 wrote a great post recently about Comparisonitis and how to stop it so if you often feel that way it might be time to read her post. At the very least you will realise that you’re not alone. For those people who have worked hard to build a huge following on sites like Instagram it can be really upsetting when algorithm changes affect your reach and your posts suddenly start bombing. It can feel like a really hard slog.
I decided long ago that photography wasn’t my strong point (I don’t even know how to use a camera on manual) and it’s too much effort to get my home insta-worthy for daily posting, I mean I have two kids who are intent on messing it up every day. So Instagram has always been a fun thing that I dip in and out of and I couldn’t really care less about figures and algorithms. What I do use it for though is hunting down inspirational people and brands that I would like to feature here. I love the way Instagram suggests new people you might like to follow based on your past behaviour. I’ve discovered some really awesome accounts like the one I want to share with you today.
Rianne Aarts is the creative fibre artist behind Teddy and Wool, a Dutch company that produces the most amazing woven wall hangings I have ever come across. I am a big fan of wall hangings and especially these ones by Rianne and her team as their geometric macramé collection has a distinctly contemporary twist. I just wish that our little flat had more wall space so I could fill it with these beautiful pieces. I also find Rianne’s story really inspiring so I’ll let her tell you more about Teddy and Wool.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I went to the Art Academy of Minerva (Groningen, The Netherlands) and I’ve studied law at University of Groningen (RuG). I’ve made a conscious decision to follow my dreams and not become a lawyer and make a lot of money, but to become a creative soul and to work with my hands. I work together with a small team (two employees) who also went to the Art Academy of Minerva and are a great help!
And what about your work at Teddy & Wool?
All my work is handmade and requires a lot of effort and hard work, but I think it’s well worth it and it really shows in the quality of my fibre art. My work varies from home decor, to event decoration, shop displays, and high-end interiors. I’ve created fibre art for large hotel chains, retail chains, restaurants and bars, and of course for private clients.
What was it about fibre art that attracted you in the first place? Why do you enjoy it so much?
During my studies I started out with weaving a small tapestry on a little self-made loom. I saw a video on YouTube and thought I can do that! About a million creative ideas popped in my head and I went at it. I made a couple of them and it looked super cute with lots of different colours and textures, but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. I wanted to create fibre art that makes a statement and has a lasting artistic impression, and that people would actually be proud to hang in their home. It needed to be bigger, bolder and with less wool and fluff. That’s when I noticed the craft of macramé. I was immediately hooked! I started experimenting with different knotting techniques, intricate patterns and also with dip-dyeing in my kitchen sink. I’ve been developing my fibre art skills ever since.
Can you talk us through the design process? How do you come up with each new piece?
Most of my work is designs I’ve completely created myself, based on something that inspired me in my surroundings. For example my “Organic Collection“, which consists of pieces inspired by nature’s elements such as earth, wind, water, ice and the sun. Other designs are custom requests by clients who want me to use certain colours, ideas or materials, which I use as input for my design. Just a week ago, I got a request from a client who wanted me to weave in the Lone-Peak mountain, which was her view from her home. Another client wanted me to dye the Mississippi river in her tapestry, because she had a special connection with it. I love those custom requests because I can unleash my creativity and I get to work with a client, and not for one.
What about the materials that you use?
I use only 100% natural cotton for my work (which I also sell in my shop) and I use a specialised self-taught dyeing technique, which unfortunately I can’t tell you too much about as it’s one of my trade secrets which really defines my work. I hope you’ll understand. I also incorporate a lot of colourful sheep wool and mainly use oak-wood to hang my work on.
How long does it take to create your fibre art pieces?
This really varies – some of my bigger pieces such as the “High Tops”, “EDA” and “Vivian” can take up to two work-weeks or more to finish, while other pieces can be done in less than a day, depending on the size and whether or not a dip-dye is required.
What has been your favourite piece to make so far and why?
My favorite fiber art piece must be either my “Doris” tapestry or the sunset version of my bestseller “EVA” wall hanging.
Can you tell us about your customer base? Who buys your work?
About 80% to 85% of my work is sold to the United States and Australia, but I’ve also started to sell more to countries in South-America, Europe and Asia. It’s starting to pick up there as well. I think about 80%-90% of my fibre artwork is bought by women, between the ages of 20 and 45.
Any exciting plans for the future?
I can’t tell you too much about it, but I’m working with a designer for a large Search-engine Company to create four massive pieces. I’m really excited about that and I can’t wait to share my work when the project is finished. For 2019, I’m looking at incorporating more different materials such as hemp, glass, clay and porcelain, to create more ‘mixed-media’ pieces. For this purpose I’m following a pottery class these last couple of weeks which I really enjoy!
So what do you guys think? Isn’t Rianne a super talented fibre artist? Would you love to have a macramé wall hanging by Teddy and Wool in your home? Let me know in the comments below!