Published on May 2, 2019 | in Profiles
Dalia Holsman has two great loves – animals and weaving – which she has combined to create unique, ethically-sourced unique pieces such as a huggable snuggle bunny cushion made with real rabbit fur. “I look at the opportunity to work with fur as a tribute to the animal it came from,” says Holsman. “This is why I only ever work with ethically-sourced fur, usually gently combed from the animal or collected after grooming.”
Holsman’s passion stemmed from a memory as an 11-year old at her first weaving class, the art room was filled with cones of wool, silk and cotton, all in such beautiful and vibrant colours. A few years ago, she was introduced to Saori, a style of Japanese freelance weaving. Walking into her new mentor’s studio brought back that special memory of my childhood self sitting at the loom. The room was filled with such beauty and art. Each piece was like no other. Silk, cotton and wool cones were neatly displayed on the walls in every colour you could dream of.
A year later, Holsman’s birthday present from her husband arrived. A loom, warp and threads all from Japan. Since then, she has been making cushions, wall hangings and table runners which are displayed throughout her home. Holsman is renowned for her focus on colour and inventive use of materials as each piece is unique and made with love. Her pieces are inspired by nature and animals making each creative process both very personal and rewarding.
The snuggle bunny cushion is part of a range of specialist weavings Holsman creates for fellow animal lovers, which include the collected shed fur from rare and unusual animals from all over the world. Many of these beautiful creatures have been rescued and are protected in rescue shelters, where the sale of their naturally discarded fur helps keep the shelters running and gives them the ability to save other endangered animals. “I know that the purchase of shed or combed fur that would normally be thrown away is helping save other animals,” Holsman says. “It is difficult to weave animal fur but so worthwhile to create the pieces I do as I get to remind others how incredible these creatures are by creating one-of-a-kind creations for humans to enjoy.”
While Holsman is especially fond of rabbit-weaves – she owns and adores two of her own – she also finds it a “great privilege” to work with ethically-sourced furs from exotic creatures such as Vampire Deer from Nepal, Soay Sheep from Scotland, Himalayan Marmot, Guanaco camels from Nepal and the softest forest foraged possum fur from Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges.
She can also create one-off cushions using a client’s collected pet fur – a comforting keepsake for its devoted owner. “Every piece I weave is a labour of love,” Holsman explains.”Depending on the animal’s fur, it can take a day to spin enough for a cushion, for example, as it must be blended with another fur such as cashmere and Angora. Once I have the yarn, it can take up to 15 hours to weave.”
Holsman says her bunny pillows have become best sellers as “they are like soft clouds you can hug – and they look wonderful and luxurious too. ”
Words by Brigitte Ferguson
Images by Love of Weaving