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Fiercely Curious is an online art & design collective based in Brooklyn.

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Dosia Sanford
Artful Weaves

About Dosia Sanford
Dosia Sanford treats each of her weaves like a work of art. Her skilled application of paint to the warp prior to weaving each piece requires patience, practice and a love for the unpredictable nature of dyes. She's nailed this process though, with a truly colorful artistic expression which adds a modern and playful twist to each of her durable keepsake weaves. Dosia spends her time between Brooklyn and Vermont and when northbound, you can find her teaching at Marshfield School of Weaving.
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In conversation with Dosia Sanford

Erin: What are you curious about?

Dosia: How things work. If I take it apart can I get it back together again? I loved textiles before I ever learned to weave and I find the greatest appreciation of something comes from knowing how it works. Whether is it simpler than you thought or beyond your understanding you learn something.

Erin: Describe your work and describe your process.

Dosia: My work is a modern take on historic practice. I work on looms from the 18th and 19th century.  All of the weave structures I use are that old if not older. I was raised by an artist and an archivist, so preserving history while creating your own feels comforting to me. I am no luddite, I love technology, but I hope to create one of a kind objects for people while reminding them of a history and keeping it alive. I go into each piece looking to make something new and along the way I may riff off of a color, motif, or weave structure for a while. Looking to both forward and back for inspiration.

Erin: How did you first learn to weave?

Dosia: I had messed around with a table top loom and tapestry loom for a while and my Mom actually first suggested I go to the Marshfield School of Weaving. The place had me in its grips the first time I entered. Kate Smith is one of the most talented weavers with a bottomless knowledge of weaving history and technique. I couldn’t have a better teacher. I guess Kate noticed I wasn’t going to stop coming and hanging out so she offered me a job!

Erin: You teach at the Marshfield School of Weaving in Vermont. What have you learned from your students?

Dosia: It is so interesting to watch people begin to grasp techniques you have used many times. Everyone understands them differently so they might praise an aspect of something I had completely ignored. It’s like people you love meeting, other people you love and loving each other, your own understanding grows and you appreciate them even more.

Erin: Your work involves a very tedious and unpredictable process called warp painting. Tell us about this art form that takes place on the loom.

Dosia: I usually start with a sketch of what I want to paint. Laying out the warp to an approximation of where each thread belongs I can start to paint a giant and somewhat unruly canvas. That cures for twenty-four hours, is then washed and dried before I put it on the loom. By the time I set up the loom it sometimes feels like another project completely. All there is to see is a pile of colorful jagged lines waiting to be reassembled. Seeing my pattern reappear is probably what keeps me coming back again and again to this process.

Erin: You split your time between Brooklyn and Vermont. How does living and working in these two vastly different places affect your approach to your work?

Dosia: Color and sound. Both of these places have such stark contrasts of those two things I feel it stimulates and balances how and what I make. I grew up in Vermont, but moved to Brooklyn when I was 18. They both feel like home and I can’t have one without the other.

Erin: You are able to customize all of your weaves - talk us through the process of a unique commissioned piece.

Dosia: Because each piece I make is unique I am always happy to have a conversation with someone who wants something I haven’t already made. If someone likes my work, but has something specific they need I encourage that dialogue. I had someone who wanted to reupholster a couple chairs and really liked my painted warps. I got a chance to make something new and give them exactly what they wanted. It’s nice for it to feel like a collaboration.

Erin: Where do you find your inspiration and how do you apply it to your work?

Dosia: Everywhere. Sometimes I see colors I want to recreate or things I would like to incorporate into a motif. My Nana gave me all these amazing art magazines from the 60’s and one had a collection of different cattle brandings that I would love to make into a pattern. Looking in old weaving draft books is also a constant source of inspiration. Besides that a long list of artists whose work inspires me just to make things everyday.

Erin: If you could collaborate with anyone dead or alive who would it be with and what would it look like?

Dosia: I would design costumes with and for David Bowie. There are so many people on my lists, but I have always wanted to make wild outfits out of my fabric and he would have been the perfect person. His style was unmatched.

Erin: You also do some woodworking. What have you been working on and have you incorporated your weavings into any furniture?

Dosia: I have! One of the first things I wove was an ikat sling for a chair I made. I really want to work more with my friend David Boynton who is an incredible woodworker back in Vermont. He got me a piece of walnut for my birthday a year ago that I need to use. I have been thinking of incorporating both crafts to make light sculptures.  

Erin: If you had one superpower, what would it be?

Dosia: Teleportation. I love travel and the ability to go visit a textile or piece of art or anything at any moment sounds incredible.

Erin: What are you working on next?

Dosia: I was looking through an old Jack Lenor Larsen book and am going to play around with some of his brocade techniques. You lay in your pattern so you have total control over it. His pieces are of course so beautiful and simple. I am hoping to have more of a freeform hand in the design, but I am waiting until I see how it weaves to decide!