Ashford Artist of the Month – Oct 22 – Nari Alves

Have you ever considered swapping your day job for something more creative? Contemporary weaver Nari Alves, from Wellington New Zealand did just that.

I hope you enjoy reading her story.


NAME: Nari Alves

BUSINESS NAME: Nari Alves Design

Who are you, where are you from and what do you do?
I’m Kiwi/Korean with a Korean mum and Kiwi dad and I live in Wellington, New Zealand, with my husband and two young kids. I feel so lucky to be able to spend my days doing something I love – designing and creating contemporary woven wall hangings.

What was your background?
I used to work in government in a variety of business analyst and advisory roles. I enjoyed the work but after I had my second child I didn’t feel a strong desire to return to a desk job. I loved being at home after my kids were born and kept extending my parental leave before finally admitting to myself that I didn’t want to go back.
Creative work is something that has been a dream of mine for a long time but I didn’t know how to make it a reality. In the end I decided I had nothing to lose by giving it a go sharing my work for sale online. I was also running out of wall space for all the wall hangings I’d created and wanted an excuse to buy more materials to make more!

How did you get started on your fibre artist journey?
I’ve always done creative projects in my spare time and now the kids are getting older and both in school I’ve had more time to explore what I really want to be doing, and what brings me joy.
I started weaving several years ago after receiving a small frame loom as a present. From there my passion for weaving has grown and I have enjoyed learning new techniques and finding my unique weaving style. 
I launched Nari Alves Design in June 2021 to share my passion with others and offer the opportunity for people to purchase original art for their homes. Contemporary fibre art such as weaving is not super common in New Zealand, it’s such a thrill for me to work with clients to design something totally unique that fits with their décor and aesthetic! 

How did your journey evolve over time? 
I have always loved colour and working with fibre. I enjoy crochet and knitting so my first weavings were created with yarn leftover from crochet projects. I started out using patterns from books but once I began experimenting with adding texture with wool roving my passion for weaving really took off. Wool roving adds so much texture and dimension to woven artworks!

What do you do with your creations/art/finished pieces?
I make custom weavings and sell some ready made pieces.

Where do you sell it?
I have some pieces available on my website, and for sale at my local art gallery ‘Mitchell Studios’ in Khandallah, Wellington.

How do you manage a balanced life as an artist? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Weaving is my ‘me time’ and something I do to relax while listening to a podcast or watching a show. Once I get the kids off to school in the mornings, I have some flexibility to structure my day between weaving and other life admin. Exercise is a priority for me and I have to move during the day to feel energised, whether it’s walking or HIIT workouts. 
I’m so inspired by the world around me. Wellington is full of beautiful native bush and my workspace looks out on to bush-covered hills in various shades of green. Some of my recent round designs were inspired by vibrant coral reefs. I’ve been lucky enough to have seen some beautiful coral reefs and an amazing variety of sea life snorkelling in Vanuatu, Fiji, Rarotonga, Hawaii, Thailand, and the Great Barrier Reef! I’ve used a variety of weaving techniques (soumak, knotting, and rya loops) to capture the gentle movement of sea grasses and the variety of colourful corals and sea anemones. 
I have a pinterest board where I collect patterns and designs. It can be anything from fashion, interesting tiles, wallpaper, or aerial photography.

Do you have advice for people just starting out on their fibre journey?
Just get started and have fun with it! When I was starting out I found some really great tutorials online, in particular the Spruce and Linen website is a great resource for learning weaving techniques. I also found an amazing community of weavers on Instagram from around the world who are creating beautiful fibre art. 

Where will your fibre journey take you in the future?
I’m enjoying experimenting with different shapes. If I could source some really large round frames that would be a fun challenge! I’m also keen to try using different materials and fibres such as silks, chiffon and velvet ribbon. There’s so much variety to be found with different colours and materials. The possibilities are endless, and it keeps weaving so interesting to me!