Hand-welding a steel steel frame, gathering bark fragments from the woods, hunting down vintage wool at thrift stores across the East Coast…it's all in a day's work for the Philadelphia weaver Stefanie Fuoco, whose amazing series of steel-framed and intricately-handmade pieces are exclusively online at UO! We stopped by to visit her at her studio and learn more about what goes into making one of her beautiful textiles.
Photos by Michael A. Muller
Walking into Stefanie's apartment in South Philly is an immediate sensory overload of texture, color, and material (which she admits to be a bit of a hoarder of). Baskets upon baskets of yarns in every color are literally everywhere in her studio, each with a sourcing story. "[Finding yarn] is my favorite part! I love finding new colors, being inspired by different textures, and getting really excited about my finds becoming new projects," she explains.
Crafty since she was a kid and always "really into creating," she was encouraged by her family to follow her passion for making things with her hands and focused on studying fibers in college, which led to honing in on weaving. Since then, her style has evolved into being her own unique take on the traditional method, emphasizing natural fibers like wool and cotton combined with other found or fabricated objects like wood or metal.
Inspired by growing up in Vermont and the natural beauty of the outdoors, many of Stefanie's pieces incorporate bits of found objects that she's collected on walks or on trips tromping through East Coast woods and beaches. "My family has always been collectors of natural treasures," she says. "Some objects just really speak to me and I want to be able to give them a home. Driftwood is so unique and beautiful; it’s a perfect canvas for weaving."
Case in point: while we were snooping through her supply closet, she advised us to be careful while opening the door...see above for what we discovered when we peeked inside (!)
For her exclusive UO collaboration, Stefanie took on a new skill to incorporate into her creations: hand-welding. "To be honest, I worked really hard," she explains. "I cut the fibers, I dyed the fibers, I hand-welded and fabricated the steel frames followed by a custom patina… then came the weaving! I put a lot of effort into this and honed in on my metal-working skills, which was great to be able to work in a different medium."
1. Tell us something we don't know about weaving.
It is very time-consuming yet meditative. Weaving is one of the oldest crafts around and it kills your back!
2. What's your favorite piece you ever made?
This is a hard one to answer. I'm excited about so many; I can’t really pick a favorite. I feel like every piece is my baby, because I put so much work and care into every piece. But at the same time it's great to finish a weaving and send it away to its new home and get inspired to start on the next one.
3. What is a dream project?
My dream project is one that will transition me into a full-time artist. I can't wait for the day when I can just weave in a barn somewhere in the woods and be totally self-sufficient as an artist.