Among the dreary days of coronavirus, a new handmade weaving business is bringing some color back to Richmond with Knot & Stem.
The dreary reality of living during the COVID-19 quarantine is an abundance of spare time. It’s easy to lose days or weeks doing nothing when there’s nothing to do. However, the artistically talented have seen new opportunities in the throes of isolation, as their spare time translates into tangible works of art.
This is the case for Richmond’s Samantha Weiss, a local artist and VCUArts grad who recently launched Knot & Stem. Creating hand-crafted woven tapestries, Weiss offers custom designs and themed work through her online business.
“I just wanted to make people happy with more art in the house,” said Weiss. “Maybe make some extra money.” Like many others during COVID-19, Weiss lost her full-time design job to the pandemic’s economic disaster, but she used the situation to bring some color back into her world — and into homes across Richmond.
Knot & Stem tapestries cost anywhere from $25 to $50, and come in a variety of color schemes and designs. Of course, Weiss also takes custom orders where she works more closely with customers for a particular design.
Weiss’s woven tapestry pieces are created improvisationally, based on a color scheme. Her style is influenced by her career history as an interior designer, which gives her a keen eye when it comes to perfectly crafted colors and other design elements.
“It definitely gives me an advantage in terms of aesthetics and home decor,” said Weiss. “But it’s a little bit more whimsical, since I was in the corporate design world. I was mostly doing offices. It’s more fun to think about home design.”
Apart from her interior design experience, Weiss is mostly a self-taught artist. Along with weaving, she’s talented in several other art forms: watercolor, embroidery, and especially glass-blowing, in which she majored at VCU.
Her interest in weaving sparked in 2017, when coming across other artists inspired her to try her own hand at the skill. The isolation of COVID-19 gave her a window to fully commit to the new projects.
“[Weaving takes] a long time, so it’s always hard with a job,” said Weiss. “Since the end of March, I’ve been weaving all day every day. I’m finally getting better.”
Weiss began creating weaved tapestries for Knot & Stem in a small space in her home. She’s not the only talented one in the family — her brother, Andre Weiss DeLaRosa, owns and operates his own wood shop called DeLaRosa’s Creations. In late June, he custom-built a fully operational weaving loom for Weiss. Now Knot & Stem can take custom commissions for weaved tapestries up to four feet long.
As she moves forward with her business, Weiss is also diving back into the design world. She has full plans to keep growing Knot & Stem alongside her work.
“I definitely want to keep the Knot & Stem business alive, by weaving at night and working by day,” said Weiss. “It’s brought me a lot of peace. I hope I can continue doing it as much as possible.”
To find more work by Knot & Stem or order a custom piece of your own, visit the business on Instagram. Keep it colorful, RVA!
Top Photo via Knot & Stem