This Sunday’s Midcentury Modern sees the launch of a fascinating brand Mourne Textiles. This family-run workshop is headed up by Mario Sierra, the grandson of Gerd Hay-Edie, a famous Norwegian weaver who turned her passion for textiles into a globally successful workshop in Ireland in the Fifties. Hay-Edie’s double-cloth woven designs were famously used by Gordon Russell in the Thirties, the first furniture designer in London to use tweed to cover his handmade chairs and sofas. It is the launch of a selection of iconic pieces from Hay-Edie’s own archive that debuts this week at Midcentury Modern.
Here Mario (seen below) gives Modern Shows writer, Jessica Daniels an intimate look into how his Grandmother’s passion for weaving has been passed down through three generations.
“My fascination for weaving was inspired by two creative and talented women – my grandmother and my mother. When I was young we lived in Dublin and my mother would weave commissions for rugs and wall hangings from home. I took my first steps in and around her loom and would sit on top of the pedals when I felt enough was enough and she would have to stop weaving. I was immersed in the world of yarn, cloth and craftsmanship from a very early age. For as long as I can remember we had looms in our house.
At the age of seven we left Dublin and returned to the Mournes, where my grandmother originally set up the Mourne Textiles workshop and design studio in 1954. My mother built a small house connected to my grandmother’s workshop where she and I then lived. My Grandmother was living in a small flat above the workshop and I spent most of my time making dens in the racks of yarn in the textiles store or playing table tennis on the mending table in the shop. I would climb all over my grandmother’s tweeds to find the ball. I must have driven her mad.
The weavers were part of the family. I saw them daily and they often helped me with homework after school. I remember hearing the sound of the beating handlooms from our little house, a sound my own children now hear when they visit. During our last visit to Ireland my daughters (aged 8 and 11) met some of the workshop’s new apprentices. The weavers still share our kitchen to make cups of tea much like they did when I was a child. My daughters asked if they could weave a rug on the workshop’s full-sized looms, so my mother obliged by helping them to choose colours from old stock, guiding them through the weaving process, and pressing the pedals when they couldn’t quite reach.
Up until then they had only woven on the children’s loom, a small rickety thing my grandmother brought back from China. This loom that both my mother and I learnt to weave on as children was enough to give them a taster of how the warp and the weft weave together to make a cloth but now my daughters were creating cloth on full-sized looms, and they loved it. By the end of the holidays each had completed a full-sized rug for their bedrooms.
It is wonderful to see my children take to the looms as myself and my mother did before them. Surrounded by the busy workshop, the rhythmic sounds of the looms, and chat from the weavers it is wonderful to see all of the different processes that lead to production up and running again. With warps made on the warping mill, bobbins wound for the fly shuttles, weavers weaving and tweeds mended for the finishers, my grandmother’s workshop has slowly come back to life after a period of hibernation. I think she would be proud of what we have achieved but most of all she would love seeing her grandchildren taking her passion for weave forward into the next generation.”
Mourne Textiles joins, Skandium, Theo, Ella Doran et al in The Modern Marketplace
Jessica Daniels is a journalist and writer with a passion for mid-century living in Clapham, South West London. Link up with her here on twitter
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Images c Mourne textiles