Weaver Maria Sigma talks about working from home
Words Vilma Paasivaara
For London Craft Week, weaver Maria Sigma moves her enormous loom from her home studio into The Home of Craftsmanship. While she demonstrates her work in a new environment, we caught up with Sigma about the delicate art of working from home…
Maria Sigma first started weaving in Greece, before she moved to London to do her degree in Textile Design at Chelsea College of Art and Design. Since then she has gone on to win multiple awards for her work, among them the Cockpit Arts Award, and established a sustainable weaving practice. She operates on a zero-waste policy, using all of her materials and avoiding any offcuts. The yarns she uses are sourced locally and are made of only natural materials. ‘Being sustainable in the way of using natural materials and trying to use local suppliers is something that I was always interested in, even before I started weaving,’ Sigma explains.
When she finished her two years working at Cockpit Art’s studio, Sigma had to find a new workspace for herself – and the loom. Having looked around for both a home and a new studio, she came to the conclusion it might be easier to simply merge the two together. ‘The loom is quite huge, and finding a space for it was quite expensive in London, compared to a desk space, so it was quite complicated to find the proper place,’ Sigma explains. ‘I need a space with natural light as well, so I couldn’t be in a basement.’ A home studio was something that she had secretly dreamed of already, so she went ahead and set up her enormous loom and her home under the same roof.
Sigma says she has been enjoying the union of home and workspace so far. ‘I like to work from home – actually I find it easier,’ she says when asked if she has encountered any difficulties adjusting to her new setup. ‘I like to be surrounded by my own stuff and putting them in my own order. I think better and I’m more productive and focused I think when I’m home. Nothing can distract me actually.’
If there is one downside, Sigma suggests that working from home can at times feel like a lonely pursuit. Apart from interns who help her set up the loom when needed, she mostly works by herself. For now, it still feels like the right choice though – and Sigma remarks that even when she worked with four weavers in the same studio, they would all concentrate on their work and usually only chat at lunch. ‘It is not really an interactive way of working when you’re weaving,’ she says.
Working in her home studio has also given her so much more time – and the ability to choose her own schedule. ‘I enjoy working whatever hours I want, because I like to work until late,’ she says. And it is not just the flexible hours but the ability to actually use her home daily that she appreciates. ‘I feel that if I am not working from home, I am not enjoying it enough.’ Every day Sigma cooks in her kitchen, something she says is another way of connecting with a more tactile world. ‘We are very distanced from doing anything with our hands, we even have ready-cut vegetables,’ she says. ‘We are distant from how things used to be made by hand, by people. And I think we don’t always notice it.’
Even though running her studio from her home has gone smoothly so far, she does have a few tips for anyone wanting to do the same. ‘I think that it’s important to separate your living space and your workspace so that you can actually close the door – and your work will stay there while you can carry on with your life at least for a couple of hours without actually seeing it.’ Distancing yourself from your work, and not getting too engrossed for long periods of time, is something Sigma says is important but sometimes difficult to do. ‘It is important to remember to just go out. Go for a walk or even to the grocery store. It is quite a luxury sometimes, and you can feel guilty, but even half an hour can make a difference.’
For those with the right temperament, Sigma thinks working from home can be a wonderful experience. Being a weaver, creating textiles mostly used in everyday lives, Sigma feels there is a strong connection between her work and the home. She even wrote her whole dissertation on how textiles contribute to the notion of a home. ‘It is more like a way of living than a way of working. I find that it is better not to separate them too much,’ she says. ‘We use textiles every day in our homes and I think we sometimes don’t realise how important they are. How constantly present they are and how much use them in our lives.’