As far back as she remembers, Brooklyn-based textile artist Molly Haynes has always had a creative spark. But it wasn’t until her studies at the Rhode Island School of Design that the spark was truly ignited, by a newly discovered passion for weaving. “I took a machine-knitting class my sophomore year,” she says, “and it was love at first sight. I didn’t realize until later that textiles were a part of my familial past. My great-grandfather was an abstract expressionist and his paintings were inspired by Bulgarian textiles.”
Those paintings–as well as her childhood surroundings of the forests and marshlands of Massachusetts’ North Shore–laid the groundwork for her own works, a collection of hand-woven vases, wall hangings and panels. Other influences, such as the desert landscape of the American Southwest and the midcentury works of weavers such as Sheila Hicks and Lenore Tawney, have also played an important role.
The weavings are born not on the loom, but on a piece of paper. “I usually start out with my graph paper and notebook,” Haynes says of her creative process. “I make tons of really rough sketches, and the very first thing I need to decide is the width of the piece. Within the width, I can divide it up into whatever pattern I want to.” The most complicated–and time-consuming–work comes from preparing the loom, which can take up to 14 hours. It is a necessary act of precision that later allows for the spontaneity of the artist’s designs. “I don’t necessarily plan out the actual pattern of the piece because there are so many things you can do once the warp is set up. I’ll just kind of do whatever I decide to do in the moment.”
Haynes’ designs could best be described as achromatic. “I’m a black-and-white girl,” she says. “I love it because of the beautiful tension between the two colors. And it also allows me to achieve the most dimension in my work.” As for other hues, she has a soft spot for rust, celadon, citron and traffic-cone orange. “For me color has to be really intentional,” she explains. “I don’t like to use unnecessary or decorative things in my work, but I will if there’s a way for me to incorporate color where it enlivens or pops, in the way that maybe caution tape might encroach upon a landscape. I like to use it as sort of a surprise.”
With the recent attention Haynes has garnered through her shows at INC Architecture and Design (through cooperative hub Colony’s Conception Series) and Sixty Les Hotel, she is now taking the leap from part-time to full-time artist. After working with the renowned Pollack Fabrics (she credits them for being the foundation for her career), she is now focusing solely on her art. “There’s something special about weaving,” Haynes concludes. “It’s so simple, yet it can refine an idea through materials–you can isolate a concept just through yarn. I love that.”