Morgan Hale, a weaver and artist, is one of many people who see fashion as a form of self-care. Morgan adores weaving and works to make the coziest garments and woven items. So naturally, Morgan defines a fashion-as-self-care garment as something that is comfortable. Read below as Morgan shares her experiences in the fashion industry, her upcoming projects, biggest accomplishments, and her idea of fashion as self-care.
Check out Morgan’s Instagram, @m.h.a.l.e, to see her beautiful creations!
CC: Tell me a bit about yourself. What do you do? Where are you from?
MH: I’m a weaver! I spent most of my childhood and teenage years in rural Vermont, but before that, my family and I lived in New York and Connecticut. Growing up, I loved creating in many mediums but my mom sparked my interest in the textile world by teaching me to knit and sew. I went to MassArt in Boston for college but at first, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in. I considered illustration, photography, printmaking, and fibers, but I decided on a major in fibers, which is where I learned to weave. After college, I moved to San Francisco and made functional woven pieces like scarves, blankets, and pillows for a while. Currently I’m living and working in New York and I still make some functional items and take on commissions but this past year things changed a bit. The pandemic provided me with extra time to get back to my fine art practice, something I had been hoping to do for a while. My process has grown and changed but weaving is always at the root of it.
CC: How did you get into weaving? What makes you passionate about what you do?
MH: When I toured the fibers department at MassArt I fell in love with the studio spaces filled with beautiful wood floor looms, big windows, and a huge yarn closet. I knew I wanted to learn how to weave and be in that amazing space. I took the weaving courses offered and after I learned the ins-and-outs of weaving, the process became second nature. While the setup process is relatively similar each time, the possibilities are endless. There are so many patterns and colors to try and ways to vary a design on or off the loom. Even after nine years of weaving, the repetitive and ancient process still feels a little like magic and it keeps me coming back to explore new ideas.
CC: Tell me a bit about your upcoming gallery exhibit. What's it called and what inspired it? What was the most challenging part to get ready for it and what risks did you take?
MH: My work is being shown at Shelter In Place gallery. It’s a new and unique miniature gallery that opened during the pandemic. The gallery was made at a 1:12 scale, meaning 1 inch = 1 foot. This miniature set up allows for more accessible opportunities for artists to show their work. It also makes the work look huge - something I don’t currently have space or resources to pull off.
The five pieces I made are part of my Time Isn’t Real series and are each 5” x 7” in real life but will look 60” x 84” in the gallery. The inspiration for this series began at the beginning of the pandemic. With my daily life slowed down, I was spending most of my time inside and I started to observe my surroundings more. I took note of the changing shadows and light and started to archive these moments by applying plaster to woven panels. Eventually, I broke away from the reality-based imagery and took this idea further by creating my own shadowscapes, like in the pieces for this show. You can read more and see more of the works in this series on my website.
The most challenging part of creating these pieces was actually working small. Applying the plaster at such a small scale was a bit fiddly but I made it work! I also ended up having custom stretcher bars made to keep the illusion of the scale accurate after finding no ready-made options available. You can view the pieces on the Shelter In Place gallery Instagram or website.
CC: Tell me about some of your creations. What are some of your greatest accomplishments in your work?
MH: Transitioning from creating functional work back to fine art took me a long time and while I could do without the pandemic, I’m glad quarantine gave me the push to really get to work. I know many people have struggled to just survive through this so I’m grateful for the encouragement from my support system to keep going. The Shadowscapes series I’m currently working on is one of my proudest conceptual works. My work has always been process-driven and I’ve struggled with conceptual work in the past but this came naturally. Having this work to propel me through this heavy time has kept my mind and my hands busy.
CC: What is something interesting about your work that many people wouldn’t know?
MH: Many people don’t realize that to create a weaving, it is a time-intensive and multi-step process. Since most textiles today are produced by machines, it can be hard to imagine creating cloth one thread at a time with your body and a hand-operated loom. Sometimes the process to set up my loom takes longer than the actual weaving! I’ve been sharing videos of my process on Instagram reels and it gives a little insight into the many steps it takes for a weaving to come together.
CC: How did you find out about The Creative Cookie? How long have you been partnering/working with Lesley?
MH: I found Lesley and The Creative Cookie in the “creative gigs” section of Craigslist over the summer! She was looking for help sewing masks and when we met via Zoom, we really hit it off. Since then I’ve become her studio assistant helping to sew masks, keep things organized, make sure things run smoothly behind the scenes, assist on photoshoots, and more. We both live in the wonderful neighborhood of Ridgewood, Queens which has made moving materials around and doing photoshoots much easier, especially during the pandemic.
CC: What is your idea of “fashion as self-care” and why?
MH: For me, fashion as self-care is about comfort. Wearing something that feels comfortable on my body makes me confident. Along with being comfortable I also want to look cute which led to my love of jumpsuits and overalls. Comfort has become a bigger priority for me lately and I love how versatile jumpsuits are. They’re great for the studio, for relaxing, or for that rare occasion of dressing up and going out. When I’m looking for a quick self-care boost I put on a pair of fun earrings. Adding something small but special to my look always makes me feel great!
By: Kasey Lettrich