Leila creates large, unique, hand-woven tapestries inspired by the rhythm of life and landscape of Orkney. In her work she uses the landscape as a means of expression to convey a more abstract thought or idea.
Before weaving comes the idea and the drawing, which often takes as long as the weaving. Leila generally works in charcoal or pencil on a full scale sketch, which then becomes the cartoon for the tapestry. Some artists prefer to sketch in colour on a smaller scale which then has to be scaled up to the appropriate size. However Leila feels working on a full scale helps the drawing to be more fluid and balanced. Her large, upright loom is made from builders’ scaffolding; it is strong and can be adjusted to suit the size of tapestry being woven. Once the loom is warped up, a leashing bar is attached to the front of the loom. Each leash from this bar goes around each back warp enabling you to pick up several warps at once, speeding up the process. The tapestries are woven on a cotton warp at a count of 8 – 12 warps per inch and take between 2 and 4 months to weave depending on how complicated the weaving is. The weft generally consists of linen, cotton and Shetland wool.
Yarns are wound by hand onto a wooden bobbin which carries the yarn and beats down the weaving. In tapestry the weft creates the image and the warp is not seen. In tapestry you only weave across a small number of warps at a time, never from side to side across the whole width as you would do on a horizontal cloth loom.