Taking tapestry into the 21st century

For Kobi Brinkman, Jack Parle, and Heather Adlam, anything beyond their craft is “going through the motions.”

The members of Hamilton collaborative venture Weave. Pot. Paint have been turning out piece after piece for the past 30-odd years, entering exhibitions andselling wares through Waikato Museum's Artspost.

But times change and now faithful customers and newcomers can purchase their works online, too, at

Bowl created using an ash and poured glazes - Jack Parle Isla Trapski Wool and acrylic tablemats - Heather Adlam Isla Trapski Shibori dyed rust & brown scarf woven in wool - Heather Adlam Isla Trapski Handwoven tapestry - Kobi Brinkman Isla Trapski

The idea came to Brinkman, 67, one day, and she immediately asked her friends Parle (81) and Adlam (76) to collaborate.

“It is not a business as such, more a collaboration of our works,” she says.

Adlam, a former Manawatu Guild member, started weaving in 1969 after an occupational therapist taught her how.

She embraced tapestry weaving after a friend’s recommendation – the same course Brinkman took, cementing their long friendship.

“I found it very stimulating as I hadn’t used my brain since high school,” she jokes.

Since her loom and tapestry taster she has woven many a yard of fabric, curtains, table mats and runners, cushions, bags and floor rugs – not to mention reaped awards at national exhibitions and fashion parades of the NZ Creative Fibre Society, as well as working on the centennial tapestry for Christchurch.

For now she is sitting out the fashion parades, though, concentrating more on making tea towels. The loom-crafted cloths are part of a friendship course she signed up for and involves leaving the towels as gifts them to the homes she stays in during her travels.

A new technique called "woven Shibori" is one of her current projects. The scarves are weaved then dyed to produce interesting one-off pieces with linen, silk, and alpaca.

Parle, her husband, was aware of the weaving world, having been involved with it with his late wife.

However, he didn't take up the mantle until a neighbour asked him to look after their lamb and failed to return for it.

In his own words, “The lamb grew into a sheep, so I shore it. Got a spinning wheel…I had all this damn wool so I thought I better learn how to spin.”

He joined the Palmy and Wellington guilds, became a member of the exclusive Port Nicholson Hand Weavers (Wellington) and even featured in an exhibition at Turnball house.

He too has sold his creations through Artspost and recently received $500 for a floor weave.

He admits if he can sell his mats for such a price, perhaps they shouldn’t really be thrown on the floor.

“I get pleasure from the feel of the garment. That is what I am interested in,” he explains as he hands a coarse scarf over for judgement.

Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).