James Donald ~ inspiration ~ development ~ diversification

James unique story starts with his inspiration from his travels and none more so than around Scotland his inspiration is captured from various areas around the west coast, Uist and Shetland.

From woods and streams, clouds the sea, sand and moss to rusty metal bits the Scottish landscape is so close to his heart.

He captures these rich treasures of inspiration with his camera using the viewfinder as his frame and develops these images further using mix media to obtain a completely original design.

Yarns are sourced from Scotland 99.9% of the time and he uses his unique float pattern and weaves his design on his 32 shaft computerized loom – he calls it his pride and joy

 This method of weaving and these designs are unique to James

Artists Kate Downey has been a great inspiration to him also. He recalls her and the techniques he learned from her if he gets in a rut , his advice if you get stuck is keep going, pushing yourself  through the pain barrier as he calls it and back in 2008 this did happen to him – he’d just received his  second development grant of £10,000  from the Scottish Arts Council – now known as Creative Scotland and he remembers sitting in his studio not knowing where to start.  He approached Reiko Sudo of the Nuno Corporation, Tokyo, and Ann Sutton an expert in weave to become his mentors. So he pushed and went back to the techniques he’d learned and put together an amazing range of designs.

he created huge mixed media pieces all based on his trip to Uist  and Shetland and began to use technology in the form of his iphone – the word of the day was APP – he used various apps to play with the images he’d photographed and an idea was beginning to form in his mind –now  not only weave but a completely new range of products was beginning to take hold.

And this is where he began to diversify

Lambs wool and linen hand woven scarves will always be James staples but now glassware, stationery, digitally printed scarves and badge pieces were born and their debut would be at the forthcoming trade show in Philadelphia.

glass collection was engraved here in Dundee by White & Sharp Glass Engravers

So along with 25 makers and the Craft Scotland team they arrived in Philadelphia for a direct to the public selling show which was organized by the Museum of Art this was James’ second time here which is usually unheard of.  People came from all over – Baltimore, New York and the eastern sea board to name a few – he was the only weaver there and he was a MAN!

He arrived with 3 suitcases of products and came back with ½ a suitcase.

Promotion was amazing – with incredible touch points, pens brochures  postcards banners and  the incredibly hard working Craft Scotland team gave so much and we all know Emma Walker now – she was there every day making contacts speaking to customers and promoting Scottish craft often the last to leave at night.  This show was such a resounding success and really demonstrates  how connection with Craft Scotland can pay off.

So it was with enthusiasm that James set of for the New York International Gift Fair having done the show 10 times previously.  This show sells directly to retailers but unfortunately it was a completely different experience, whether it was a sign of the times, a very mild winter or the price point was wrong this was the first show with which he was disappointed with sales, as he says it doesn’t matter if you’re fresh out out college or been making for a while  its down to the buyers.  So now he gets on and digests where things may have gone wrong – was his diversification at a cost to him,  should he have concentrated as PickOne the weaver ………………..

I have to say thank you to James – he has been a great support to our group and very generously let us borrow some of his beautiful work to display for our presentation he also gave all six of us beautiful pins to wear.

James can be found here at his pickone blog 

At the the shop he shares with his amazing business partner Fiona McIntosh  – Concrete Wardrobe

At his studios for incredible workshops

He also lectures at Dundee College in Textile Art and Leith School of Art.

Group Enterprise Project

We met with James Donald on Wednesday at the DCA over a lovely cup of tea

and what a brilliant experience it was. The six members of our group all waited for him to arrive and nerves were a little on edge but we needn’t have been, James is so generous with his time and knowledge.  He soon put everyone at ease with his natural way with people and answered all our questions without faltering, time flew by and before we knew it an hour had passed and I think we were all a little disappointed that the interview had come to an end.

L to R – Kirsty, Viv, Judy (me), James, Sarah, Tarka and Kirsty

So now we are putting our presentation together. I’m presenting James’ inspiration – Scotland of course – the West Coast , Uist and Shetland, his diversification – using technology to create new designs and trade show experience. We have 20 mins which is approximately 3 mins each allowing for slide changes etc, I could speak for hours on the info I have.  Thanks James you were brilliant and I hope we do you justice.



James Donald – PickOne

Today we meet James Donald fresh out of Philadelphia and New York, he has only just recovered from jet lag and yet is meeting with 6 eager Textile Design students this afternoon, we have so much to ask him!

James is a master weaver with his own label PickOne, is joint owner of Concrete Wardrobe, Edinburgh and teaches at Dundee College, Leith School of Art and in his own Studio at Coburg House, Leith. I could go one but for now this is just a taster of the man who weaves, connects, mentors, collaborates, sells, designs …………………………..

photo – idiosyncraticfashionistas