Craft Britannia Shop of The Week #57, Tafipiri
Our latest CraftBritannia Shop of the Week is Tafipiri, home of luxury handwoven scarves, shawls and other accessories. Valeria, the maker of these beautiful garments, is here to tell us more in this week’s interview.
Describe your “typical” working day or week
Crafts in general, and weaving on a loom in particular, started out as a hobby for me, so I still do it just a few days a week. When I first started selling items on Etsy, it was mostly hand-embroidered scarves and handbags. As time went on, I transitioned into doing more handwoven goods on a loom. Weaving can be very painstaking and time-consuming: each item demands quite a few hours of work on the loom – often several days for a single shawl! This includes preparation – shopping around and combining colours, setting up the loom and getting stuck in with the weaving itself. Besides my Etsy shop, I also sometimes sell my crafts in local markets and craft shops, so I often spend some time each week keeping in touch with those vendors and researching new opportunities.
When you are not doing Etsy related things, what are you doing?
I’m currently looking for work related to my studies in international relations, and working on improving my English, as I moved to London from overseas. I also enjoy spending time with my husband, keeping in touch with family members abroad – including my little nephew – and planning a family of my own!
What was the first piece you ever sold?
The first item I ever sold on Etsy was a fleece scarf with a hand-embroidered shamrock motif – for St. Patrick’s Day, in honour of my husband’s family, who come from Ireland 🙂
What advice would you give someone taking up your craft for the first time?
Patience, patience, patience! Patience is a virtue. Handweaving on a loom is slow going and takes a lot of concentration, but as time passes you’ll see your work starting to take shape. And the finished product is beautiful and something you can really be proud of. Another piece of advice is to use high-quality yarns – otherwise it’s too much work and effort wasted on a lower-quality end product.
What material do you most enjoy working with?
When I’m weaving, I mostly use high-quality yarns from South America, where I come from. These include things like alpaca (which is lovely and soft as well as really warm), llama and merino wool. But I also enjoy working with silk and wool combinations.
If you could try a new craft, what would it be?
I love embroidery and sewing as well. But if I were to try a new craft, I think I might like to have a go at painting.
Which piece of equipment would you be helpless without?
I suppose the most obvious would be the loom itself! I actually have a couple of different kinds of hand looms, which I brought from South America – since the manufacturers are there, I have a long way to travel to replace any parts if they break!
Tell us about what inspires and motivates you
Just a love of crafts generally. Since I was a child, I’ve always done some kind of crafts – I still have the little sewing kit that I got as a gift when I was 7 years old! When I embroider, I often use indigenous motifs inspired by the cultures of my homeland – so culture and tradition are other things that inspire my work.
Tell us about one handmade item that you own and love
When I was on holiday with my husband in Laos a few years ago, I had the amazing opportunity to visit a local cooperative of women weavers. They took me in for a day and let me see how they work, and let me have a go at working with silk on their looms. I have a little remnant I made there, but what I really loved were the silk fabrics they made. I fell in love with the different patterns they weave into the silk. Whilst there I bought quite a few pieces of material and am waiting for the perfect occasion to use some of those to make a nice dress for myself 🙂
What plans do you have for your shop in the future?
I’d love to see my shop grow in the future, and to spread the word about my crafts. But I also know that, since each handwoven piece requires so much work, it’s very much a labour of love and not something I can do in large quantities.