Helen Bower Jones
I was born and grew-up in Yorkshire, England, where for centuries people have lived off textiles, primarily wool and later also cotton manufacturing. A seventeenth century ancestor was a yeomen sheep farmer in the remote Yorkshire Dales hamlet of Yockenthwaite and my father's cousin designed wool cloth for the men's suiting trade in Bradford.
I moved to the US in 2009 and now find myself living and working in the heart of North Carolina textile country! Sadly, as everywhere, the industry is dwindling but the story of textiles is visible all around in old cotton mills and cottages, and although these buildings look very different - brick and wood instead of Yorkshire gritstone - the mills remind me a little of home!
My journey with textiles has taken me on a 'weaving' path (sorry). I began my career in 1994 in the museum field as textiles curator at the historic house museum Temple Newsam, in Leeds. In this role I researched, photographed and compiled the catalogue of a fascinating collection of historic furnishing fabrics, Textiles at Temple Newsam: the Roger Warner Collection. I became fascinated with the development of pattern design in fabrics and the myriad ways of creating it, especially weaving, printing, and embroidery.
I left the museum in 2003 and life took me a different way for a few years, but lately I have 're-discovered' weaving. I learnt theoretically about weaving's many structures as part of my studies but am now experiencing the obsessive joy of creating fabric on the loom.
Other areas of interest include needle-felting, embroidery, crochet, painting on fabric, and using watercolor to come up with design sketches and ideas.