I met Laura Derby in her studio during the Spring Fling in Dumfries and Galloway (for more on this see here and here). Laura was demonstrating how she makes her rugs with coloured wool, working on a large frame and using the electric ‘gun’ which is pushed through the canvas backing and which cuts the yarn to a pre-set length on the front. All the work is done from the back. Laura was boldly allowing visitors to have a try too. I can confirm (having ‘had a go’) that it is a highly skilled craft!
Laura trained in woven textiles at Galashiels and one of her college pieces was on show inside her house – a beautiful ikat (created by dyeing threads in sections and wrapping threads to stop the dye penetrating, then over-dyeing – a complex process).
In the past, Laura worked for a New Zealand company creating bespoke rugs, where she learnt many skills. She has recently returned to her craft and now works from a wooden studio in the garden of her house just outside Kirkcudbright. Her company name is ‘Rugaura’ and her website details are at the end of this post.
This rug was hanging on the wall of the studio.
Laura spoke about the design process for making a rug to commission which featured a stag’s head. The mix of wool colours to create the border and the features of the face needed careful selection and blending.
Also in the studio was a vibrant rug which had been cut into, using a special gadget, to produce raised curved areas on the surface of the piece.
Laura explained the process involved in finishing and backing each rug using the fabric shown above, left.
The colour range of the wool was evident in the storage area.
Laura is influenced by themes such as Celtic art, the shoreline, nature, life and death. There is a spiritual aspect to her work, as for example in her piece ‘Portal’.
The ideas contained in it were around times of change and transition, opening one’s eyes and experiencing a new reality.
Laura’s sketchbooks, on display for visitors to see, included drawing, painting, cut paper, life-drawing and written reflections. It was a great pleasure to meet such a thoughtful and creative artist.
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Laura Derby’s website is: https://www.rugaura.com/