“We envisioned a textile that vibrates with light, like an other-worldly seascape,” says Sean Dougall of the jewellery-grade metal weavings that he and partner Andrew Paulson create from their studio in Watts, Los Angeles. “We were immediately drawn to the potential of fine wire and quickly learnt that it is a material that doesn’t really want to be woven; it’s slippery, stiff and coils up on itself. But we were determined to master this exquisite – albeit stubborn – material.”
The results of this self-taught duo’s labour-intensive efforts range from woven tatami mats (from $1.50 to $5 per square inch, second picture) and lustrous wall hangings (from $4,500, first picture) to expansive screens and installations. Using a variety of metals – including black steel, bronze, brass and nickel alloys and sterling-silver-plated brass – Dougall and Paulson weave exquisitely simple patterns, as well as horizontal and vertical bands of colour, while other recent material explorations have included cultivated silk from Assam and a Japanese material comprising pigmented pure silver on rice paper. The glimmering finished textiles all have a magical molten-metal appearance and “straddle the line between fine, decorative and graphic arts,” says Dougall.
Each commission can take several months to complete, with the loom (third picture) alone taking a week to set up. “It’s impossible to mechanise the loom,” explains Paulson, “and the hundreds of wires comprising a warp must be put in the proper sequence, under the same tension.” But for these eye-catching, cosmic-tinged works of art, it’s worth the wait.