“Working with cloth has always been a part of my life. Even as a young child I learned to sew from my grandmother using whatever bits and pieces of fabric I could find.”
Attracted to the versatility of fabric Morija Reeb pursued an educational path in fashion design at Fanshawe College in Ontario, followed by Capilano University’s Textile Arts program. Her relocation to Vancouver was supposed to be temporary, for school. However, life often has other plans, and after a decade Morija returned to Ontario with her young family.
“It was weaving, dyeing and printing that I was interested in learning about. I wanted to create the cloth from yarn and design the textile from start to finish.”
“Creating with silk is my passion. I am never bored, or uninspired by this fibre. It offers so many design possibilities when combined with dyeing and weaving, and it still surprises me sometimes when happy accidents happen.”
Morija shared that she never had any desire to go into fashion design, her interest was always in costume fabrication and sculpting.
“I have always loved texture and innovation. I look at my textiles as little experiments into what kind of surface designs and textures are created by specific yarns. I usually start with a general idea of how I think something is going to work and then the piece evolves from there, organically.”
Morija purchased her first loom while she was attending Capilano College. After graduation, she worked in design studio on Granville Island in Vancouver where textile artist Diana Sanderson was her mentor. Morija credits the time she spent with Sanderson, and in that studio, with the weaving skills that she utilizes today.
What is the process for creating one of your beautiful handwoven silk scarfs?
It starts with yarn. The yarn can be dyed or natural depending on your design. I try to use mostly natural dyes. At this point, I decide on the colour; this is the biggest decision for me. The rest of the piece can evolve, but the colour is what people see before they notice the texture.
To dye my silks, I usually use an ombré technique and/or ikat ties to dip the warps in colour and create patterns. The warp threads are then put on the loom in order through the heddles and then tied to the front of the loom.
Then weaving begins.
Weaving is the fastest and my favourite part of the process. A lot of the pattern is decided during the weaving. I usually tie up a sequence which, can be changed throughout the warp. My warps typically have 7 or 8 scarves on them, so I like to do different designs throughout.
After the scarves are taken off the loom, they are sometimes over-dyed to create another layer of colour. At this point, a shibori resist technique could be used to create further texture.
I then finish the edges, and the scarves are washed and dried, before they are ready for sale.
Can you describe your atelier or workshop?
I work from my home, so it tends to take over the basement until someone speaks up and says something. I work from a small studio space with my loom and tables set up for sewing and cutting. A loom can take up a lot of space and so things boil over into the laundry room most days!