I met Camilla Thomas at a major design fair in West London over a year ago. I noticed her striking throws from afar, they really stood out from the rest. Camilla’s choice of patterns and colour combinations is second to none: she has a keen eye for colour balance and designs that are soothing to the eye. Speaking to Camilla felt like talking to an old friend: Camilla is approachable, personable and engaging. These values are definitely reflected in her work. I invite you to find out more about this talented designer and maker through my Q&A below.
Tell us who you are and what you do.
I come from Cheshire, on the border of North Wales, and I was brought up in the 60s and 70s always being told that a career in the arts was never going to pay the bills. So, although my mother encouraged my passion for stitching and textiles, it wasn’t until I was 50 years old (and happily financially backed by my husband) that I felt able to study textile design at university. It was whilst studying at Manchester that I was introduced to weaving as a medium, something I had not considered previously.
What made you decide to become a maker/designer?
I don’t think you decide to become a maker as such. I think that making and being creative is very much a part of your makeup. There are lots of people making beautiful things out there, but more for pleasure than to make a living. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a designer/maker as a profession. I wanted to be able to state the fact when I was asked the question at a dinner party and that’s why I chose to take a degree: to qualify myself for the task and to study the subject in depth.
Describe an average day.
There is no typical day really, although I have to work really hard to drag myself away from my computer and into the studio. There is such a lot of marketing and self-promotion to do when you work for yourself, that the true purpose of it all can easily take second place if you’re not careful. However, when I do get time for weaving and once the warp is made and threaded on to the loom, then the real work of designing begins. Weaving is a slow process, especially on my hand- operated loom, but taking risks and experimenting with colours and patterns can make it a very exciting discipline and the time flies by. I usually weave a warp in a couple of weeks and hope to generate at least one new design that I can take to the mill to turn into a beautiful throw.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I chose the island of Anglesey, just off the coast of North Wales, to be my inspiration. I have been visiting since I was a child and I am always uplifted by the place, making it easy to be inspired and take pleasure in setting to work. It has great spaces, empty beaches, big skies and a very clear light. The changes of the seasons and weather offer a lot of diversity also. I try to capture the feeling of being in this landscape in my work.
What couldn’t you live without?
I would hate to live without imagination. Dreaming up ‘what could be’, making plans that seep into my dreams and getting excited about the designs popping into my head is a totally immersive experience. Life would just be so dull without that beautiful thought process and the potential it unveils.
What is your favourite part about being a maker/designer?
I love to spend a lot of time walking on the coast, photographing and sketching and musing over ideas for colours and weave patterns. This forming of ideas is thrilling to me and is definitely my favourite part. I actually love a white page and the possibilities it offers up!