Walking the edge of Damask weaving alive

Walking the edge of Damask weaving alive

Paula Fulton sits inside her mudbrick home, one of only a few drawlooms that exist in the country.

The 67-year-old is helping to keep the age-old craft of Damask weaving alive.

Ms Fulton said there could be five drawlooms in Australia.

It took her more than two days to assemble the 56-shaft loom, which fills an entire room in her Mooral Creek home, west of Wingham, on the New South Wales Mid North Coast.

The four to eight shafts are common in the ooms.

It is complex weaving and it is my passion. I don't use synthetic fabrics at all, I only use natural fibres, Ms Fulton said.

Some of my garments are hand-spun, hand-dyed yarn. Slow fashion is a way of thinking about how we buy, wear and care for clothes. Garments are ethically made and disposed of in an environmentally sustainable way.

Ms Fulton said that we've got a society where there's a lot of waste.

When the former maths teacher moved to her remote property, she found a creative space where she could weave her magic.

Ms Fulton said I was looking for my paradise.

She and her husband found it.

It has a pecan grove, a mudbrick house, and a pristine creek running through my place, Ms Fulton said.

We have a lot of bees and goats and geese and chooks and ducks and dogs. She has always been passionate about being creative with all forms of textiles.

Ms Fulton said that they had a needle in their hand since they were four years old.

Ms Fulton learned about the intricate weaving technique at the Wingham Wool Shed from former NASA physicist Marjorie Rees who would now be in her mid-90s.

She learned to fly before she learned to drive, said Ms Fulton.

Ms Rees was taught by her grandfather.

She inspired me to use my intellect and not a computer to create patterns, Ms Fulton said.

It takes three months for Ms Fulton to spool a year's worth of yarn. 20 metres of warp produces 19 metres of fabric.

She said each of these threads is wound onto the mill and I have to do 1,500 of these turns, from one end to the other.

Ms Fulton can produce about 5 centimetres a day of finer weave or 15 cm of fabric in a coarser weave.

For the remaining nine months of the year, Ms Fulton weaves for about 45 minutes a day — all she can manage with issues with both shoulders.

Ms Fulton says that the art form has an added benefit, because it can take two to three months to make a garment.

She said it keeps your brain alive.

Two looms are set up in Ms Fulton's outside studio where she makes tea towels, household rugs and wall hangings.

I love to make handwoven, home-constructed garments and household textiles. She said that they are made with love for my family and friends as gifts that are both stylish and sustainable.

These are old second-hand yarns that I've put together to create something useful.

I give hand-knitted socks as gifts to my family. I would aspire to wear hand-woven handmade garments. Ms Fulton fears that old skills like loom weaving are dying out. She thinks it is important for traditional female art forms to be maintained and passed on, she said.