Thread by thread, Megan Leech and Nancy Frail, two third year BA(Hons) Textile Design students, have been weaving their way towards successful careers in the textile industry.
Their first step to success? Winning two coveted scholarships from the Worshipful Company of Weavers, an historical, charitable organisation and prestigious textiles Guild.
Steeped in tradition and industry esteem, the Worshipful Company of Weavers (a.k.a. ‘the Weavers' Company’) contributes to the textile industry with a variety of awards, scholarships and bursaries. It has an active, growing membership and a host of high-profile connections.
Megan told us: “[Winning] was a complete surprise! It’s really exciting to be recognised as being good at my craft, and it has allowed me to explore what I do further, without money constraints. I have been able to make more work and take risks, testing ideas.”
The Weavers' Company awarded Megan and Nancy prizes of £3,500 and £2,500 respectively.
Nancy told us: “It was a fantastic achievement for me to win the scholarship. I have previously struggled through university and found the scholarship an acknowledgement of all my hard work.”
The scholarship prize money wasn’t the only reward. They also got to meet one of their heroes, Patrick Grant from the Great British Sewing Bee. Patrick presented them both with their awards, looked at their work and spoke to each of them individually.
Megan told us: “I was so star struck I can’t actually remember what he said to me!”
Nancy agreed: “Meeting Patrick Grant was almost more of a prize than winning the money!”
Speaking about her work, Megan said: “For me, the making of fabric rather than the embellishment of existing fabric, makes weaving so exciting. I love the process, how I have control over construction, tactility and aesthetic and how these factors can be manipulated to create such a vast range of different fabrics. I also find the whole process of weaving meditative. I enjoy spending hours threading up and weaving, becoming immersed in what I am doing.”
Nancy has a different approach: “I would love to say weaving relaxes me and helps me unwind – it doesn’t! The thing I love about weaving is the technicality of it all; each structure is complex and it takes a long time to get your head around it. That means that once that cloth is off the loom, the results are fantastically satisfying.”
After university, Nancy plans on working in the industry as a weave designer, potentially setting up her own company, while Megan has accepted a place on a postgraduate degree specialising in weave at the Royal College of Art. The future is theirs for the making.