Company Profile: Lark & Bower

Sarah Ward is a hand weaver based in Essex, mostly known for her work as The Aviary Studio. Now she launches Lark & Bower, a new endeavour born during the Covid pandemic.

Most of Sarah’s weaving career since 2010 has been spent producing seasonal collections of hand woven swatches which she sold as design ideas, working closely with brands to develop woven concepts and colour stories for their collections.

The ‘enforced pause’ that came with the pandemic, though initially turning the studio on its head, was an opportunity to evolve and diversify, to re-evaluate a weavers place in the industry.

The idea of ‘off-loom’ weaving was conceived during the first lockdown in 2020, when Sarah didn’t have access to her loom or studio. Desperate to weave, she started using leftover yarn and a needle and thread to make small studies of woven structures; twills, hopsacks, houndstooth, waffle.

Now, despite having access to both, she has continued to work on these small, intricate offerings, whilst pondering why woven structure isn’t more celebrated.

Hand-weaving is an often forgotten art, and one which deserves to be appreciated without necessarily being part of a functional or ‘throw away’ item.

As an ancient craft, weaving is deeply connected to what it is to be a human. Like music, weaving developed in many parts of the world simultaneously, long before civilisations had communication with one another – an idea often forgotten in our new digital and industrial world.

Rejecting the constant demand for newness and instead supporting slow-design and sustainable practice, Sarah plans to use these woven pieces to raise awareness about waste and the impact of the textile industry on the environment, and to shine a spotlight on craftsmanship and woven structure as an art form in its own right.

‘’Our eyes have been opened to the sheer quantity of new yarn and virgin cotton that is produced to support the fast fashion industry – an industry in which much of what’s made and sold is quickly discarded. The impact on our planet is too great, the waste and throw away culture comes at too high a cost”

So instead of participating in this we intend to use mill waste yarn, sustainable plant-based fibres, dead stock or surplus yarn from mills that have shut down, or left over yarn from old projects.

Additionally, Sarah has a range of table looms available for hire, and also offers on and off-loom workshops for weavers of all levels, from beginner to advanced weavers looking to hone their skills. See The Weave Shed Short Courses page.
Besides workshops, Sarah also offers a variety of online talks on topics such as denim, indigo, ikat, and the relationship that textiles has with the environment. These are available to individuals, groups, universities and businesses.
With thanks to Sarah Ward for the text and images

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