In the midst of a self-diagnosed quarter-life crisis, Ana Isabel Sousa quit her desk job at a high-tech company in Ontario. She’d taken a few art courses back east, and decided to try her hand at textiles at Capilano University in North Vancouver. The tactile craft was the opposite of her past pursuit, and exactly what she needed. “Every thread that is used in a project I have touched, and there is something so special about that,” she says.
All of Sousa's work plays with texture and minimal colour. Photo by Alexa Mazzarello.
Now, she crafts for private clients, interior designers and occasionally the film industry. Compared to other weavers, Sousa uses very fine threads, giving her work a translucent look. “I always try to weave projects that really bring peace to a space,” she says, “because that’s something I’m looking for and appreciate in my own life.”
“I feel lucky to be able to take a bunch of string and make it into something that you use as art or wear,” says Sousa. The program through which she learned to weave doesn’t exist anymore, so she also teaches. “It’s important to keep the tradition going in that way,” she says. Photo by Alexa Mazzarello.
Using her traditional loom and natural materials like silk, wool and linen, Sousa creates intricate tapestries and wall hangings (usually between 500 and 800 threads), sometimes dyed with plants or woven with copper. Most of her work isn’t dyed at all; she instead embraces the yarn’s natural colour—which can vary depending, for example, on the kind of silkworm or its diet.
It’s a meditative process. It’s not quick, and that’s the beauty of it. “It’s very comforting,” she says.
Sousa’s Meditation series of wallhangings represents a dreamy landscape, and is woven from linen, silk, wool, organic cotton, copper thread and paper yarn. Photo by Alexa Mazzarello.