“When we weave, we let our emotion drive our creative process; breathing through our hands in each woven detail. To outwardly express through fibre has helped us grow spiritually and together as sisters.” - Crossing ThreadsⓇ, sisters Lauren and Kass Hernandez
Crossing Threads® is the collaborative work of Lauren and Kass Hernandez, Australian-born sisters of Filipino heritage based in Sydney.
The sister-duo creates handwoven fibre art that is distinctively highly textural, organic and intricate. Both leading full-time careers in advertising and financial services, Crossing Threads® was originally born ‘a passion project’ in April 2015 but evolved into a hungry and successful brand that celebrates the revival of the hand-made through a 'Gen-Y' lens.
Each piece is an extension of their dual personalities and contrasting abilities. Heavily inspired by the beauty found in Mother Nature and the Australian landscape, the sisters aim to cross the boundaries of woven wall art by experimentation and use of sustainable fibres.
Read our Q&A with Lauren and Kass below:
Hello! Tell us a little bit about each of you:
Kass: My name is Kass, one half of the sister duo behind Crossing Threads. I am a fibre artist, as well as a Project Manager in the financial tech industry.
Lauren: And I’m Lauren, the other half of Crossing Threads. We collaborate together in creating one-of-a-kind fibre art pieces for both private collectors and commercial spaces. CT has been a sustainable “side hustle” and small business for the last 4 years. My key profession is a Senior Designer working in the advertising industry. Recently, both Kass and I have restructured our lives to achieve a better balance in juggling both our professional roles and CT as our creative business.
Crossing Threads® aims to inspire, evoke emotion and conjure up memories; celebrating the innate connection that we are all threads which make up the tapestry of life.
Where is "home"?
Kass: I live in leafy suburbs of inner west Sydney, Australia with my life partner. Our parents immigrated from the Philippines in search of a better life and we were both born and raised in the southwestern suburbs of Sydney. We are first-generation Australians, having grown up with what it means to be an “Aussie”, along with the appreciation and respect of our Filipino heritage. Home for me is truly ‘where the heart is’. My partner and I travel quite a bit, and honestly, wherever you can find a space that you feel secure, can surround yourself with beautiful things that spark joy and having the person you love to share it with, is ‘home' to me.
Lauren: At this moment in time, I have just moved into my new home with my partner... The amazing thing is, it’s literally down the road, a ‘hop, skip and a beat’ from Kass! I’m excited to have started a new chapter and have enjoyed adapting my lifestyle to a new neighbourhood. My new home has a dedicated space for our home studio, drenched with natural light and a place where we can meet with clients. The convenience of being minutes away from Kass is a bonus!
Photo credit: Jacqui Turk
What is it like working together?
We are learning to be more cognizant of the purpose behind our partnership, how we spend our time together and also juggling the balancing act of sustaining a business and also our fundamental relationship of being sisters. We are grateful to have both found something we are each passionate about, and will always cherish the sacredness of sharing what we create with not only a friend but your own sibling. More recently, we have tweaked the dials again with some life restructuring; Kass is now back at her corporate role 3 days a week, and Lauren back at the advertising agency 4 days a week. For the remaining days, we work together on building Crossing Threads and spending time with our loved ones.
What is your preferred medium?
We always opt to use natural fibres such as Merino wool, Alpaca, bamboo, silk and linen as not only it offers such a distinctive finish compared to synthetics, but we also try to tread lighter on the environment whenever we can. More of our heavily textured work features upcycled denim and upholstery, where we frequently visit local co-ops where off-cuts and discontinued fabrics are donated. We also receive donations from our family and friends. Being resourceful and breathing “new life into the old” is just one way we can reduce textile waste, but also challenges us to be more innovative with our designs and fibre curations. More recently we’ve incorporated handmade ceramic beads, each one individually rolled and imprinted with seashells, bark and other natural objects. Each bead is truly one of a kind and receives a bisque firing before use.
Does the place you come from affect your work?
We like to think our environments definitely inspire us. The Australian landscape is something that we both share a passion for; collecting shells and rocks at the beach for hours and watching the gum trees change in colour. Our colour palettes are all found in Mother Nature, whether it is the deep ochre colours of our coastline or the deep indigos and white wash of the waves that crash upon the shore. Living in Sydney we get a healthy mix of both the natural environment and man-made. You could be running along the harbour or going for a bushwalk, whatever we encounter on a daily basis no doubt informs our work.
What was your process in becoming an Artist/Designer?
Since we were children, we were always interested in the ‘arts and crafts' and supported each other's individual creative pursuits such as fashion blogging and photography. We each learned an instrument, with Kass learning the violin and Lauren learning the piano. Being sisters and also close in age (13 months apart), we’ve always enjoyed being each other’s cheer team, supporting each other’s ventures and personal interests. For a large part of our lives, we grew up dancing and celebrated self-expression through movement and rhythm for over 13 years. Our love for embellishment and textiles grew as we spent many hours at fabric stores selecting fabric and trimmings for our dance costumes and watching our parents tag-team at sequencing and beading them. The needle and thread have been part of many childhood memories. Leaning into adulthood, Lauren studied a Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design and has been practicing as a professional Designer in the advertising industry for the last 8 years. After our first introductory workshop to tapestry weaving in early 2015, we immediately caught “weaver fever” and spent many weekends together practicing and honing our craft. Through extensive experimentation, we gradually became more confident in finding our authentic voice as textile artists. This “hobby” organically grew into a “side hustle” after generating strong interest in commission work and new business via our Instagram profile. We never thought that one day we would share a creative business together, whilst also being an artistic duo. Weaving and what it means to each of us is different. For Kass, weaving became a channel to release, meditate and be present, which served greatly in contrast to the daily grind of corporate life. For Lauren, the birth of Crossing Threads became the ideal platform and opportunity to practice her accumulative experience in design, branding, creative direction, content curation and marketing. It has become a partnership which is constantly evolving, teaching us many hard lessons but also has served us some very special moments as the result of working together.
What is your design inspiration?
Kass: I love to emulate textures and colour palettes found in nature. Being able to use different fibres such as upcycled denim or pre-loved fabrics, ripping them up to breathe new life into them. Seeing how you can experiment and create a new physical form.
Lauren: There isn’t just one thing that sparks inspiration. It may be a song and the mood I’m in to what the next passenger on the train is wearing. I love to “people watch” and see how others put their outfits together. Also I enjoy my morning walk to work as I walk past a few old terrace houses and the colour palettes I see always intrigue me.
Describe your personal style:
Kass: I love neutrals and the opportunity to create abundant texture and depth through fibre. It is organic, muted, heavy but also quite spontaneous. My best work is when I enter a ‘flow state’ where I try to transfer this energy onto the loom.
Lauren: I’m quite eclectic and love when things have their own touch, whether it is an embellishment, interesting colour way or an odd finish. Most of my favourite pieces in my wardrobe have a great silhouette and cut and it’s the accessories or shoes that set off the combo. I like to think this also translates into my weavings. One goal this year is to make woven apparel, so watch this space!
What is the most inspiring piece of advice you ever received?
Kass: “You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing everything with logic. If words control you that means that everyone else can control you. Breathe and allow things to pass” - Unknown
Lauren: It’s not really a piece of advice, but a reminder that I have on Post-It note. It says “What energy are you broadcasting right now?”
How do you define yourself or your work?
Kass: I see myself as driven, hardworking and I love connecting with others. My work is dynamic, fluid and hopefully, our audience can resonate or find something that triggers an emotion or to see it from a different perspective.
Lauren: I am process driven and appreciate that there can be both good and bad learnings in everything that you do. Life is full of ‘contrasts’, shaping and shifting your perspective as you navigate through it all. I hope the work I create embodies this through the interplay of colour, texture and composition. I love to craft, so you will find in most of my pieces there are intricate details.
Who is a design icon that you look up to?
Kass: Jacqui Fink. Her elegant, feminine and large scale hand knitted artwork is inspirational.
Lauren: I love the work of Adam Pogue. He is a textile designer and extraordinary quilter in LA. His eye for colour, proportion and texture is jaw-dropping. You can tell there is a whole lot of merit and level of restraint behind his work. I respect that.
If you could make a piece for anyone in the world, who would it be and what would it look like?
Kass: I would love to create a large scale piece for the Museum of Contemporary Art. I have been a young ambassador for a while now and this is one of my favourite places to find inspiration. It would be a piece that would explore the detriment of all the dead stock of fibre that goes into landfill and to bring awareness of the need for sustainability. We have created a work titled ‘The Divide' that used upcycled denim donated from friends and family. It would be so great to use weaving as a platform to encourage dialogue and accountability for this reality and what we can do to change it for future generations.
Lauren: I would love to create a piece for Kelly Wearstler. Her eye for colour and proportion is visionary and I would consider this to be the ultimate challenge that would push my creativity. I imagine the piece to play with form and to challenge the format of traditional tapestry weaving. The proportion of colour and consideration of medium will be key... I have some images in my head, I think I will just need to action it and trial it out.
What is the last great book/podcast that you read/listened to?
Kass: Clever by Amy Devers and Jaime Derringer.
Lauren: Choosing Happiness by Stephanie Dowrick. I also reread The Power Of Now and A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.
Any advice for up and coming artists?
Kass: You never really know what is most appropriate for you until you actually go through it. Simply ‘starting’ a project can be the hardest part. But making sure you practice, experiment and follow through each day has a compounding effect that builds momentum. Don't be fixed on the final goal, but have an open heart and mind to embrace the frustrating lows and joyous highs in the process as a whole. We are all a ‘work in progress’ but knowing that there is no such thing as ‘failure' if you were able to gain or learn something from your experience.
Lauren: Find what makes your heart sing, what sparks curiosity and what lights up your eyes when you talk about it. The thing with art, it comes from within. The weaving didn’t just weave itself, or the colours on the canvas didn’t just appear... behind every ‘masterpiece’ there have been hundreds of hours working on prototypes, experiments and mistakes, but more importantly - ‘self practice’. Do the work, show up and hone your craft. There are always opportunities to make money, but you can never get back time. Strongly consider what you do with your time as it shows in your work. There really is a transference of energy, and you can feel and see it instantly.
What has been the biggest obstacle for you creatively?
Kass: Taking on feedback. Being self-taught and not having a technically trained background in the arts (unlike my sister) has always led me to feel vulnerable at times. Knowingly full well that this is an issue that I need to work through daily, it is like a muscle that I am trying to strengthen. Simply changing my perspective and taking a neutral view on it, has led me to grow personally and artistically.
Lauren: Learning to work effectively in building a creative business with family. Anyone can be creative, most people whom say they’re not “creative” mostly pertain to not being “artistic”. I think we all have a creative vein, you just need to know where the pulse is strongest. Making art and sharing this with your own flesh and blood brings about a great deal of challenges. Applying a commercial layer on top of that can get sticky at times. Both Kass and I have been exploring new territory time and time again, and it’s taught me to be brave. To have the courage to put something out, try out a new strategy or simply follow your gut. I can see the progress we’ve each made personally and collectively as sisters. This will be a constant evolution in refining what works for us both.
What advice do you have for young artists?
Take the time to find your own voice through hard work and experimentation. We truly understand that in order to learn, one may replicate what other artists have done, but that is a disservice to you if you are trying to ‘be' them and call it as your ‘own’. The world is big enough to make your own mark on it. It would be quite boring to see iterations of the same thing; mix it up and consider your role in diversifying the landscape. It will add value to not just the pool of work out there, but also to your fellow artists. Be true to yourself, and sooner or later you will find a tone and voice through your artwork that flows naturally. Keep your blinders on and if it ‘feels right’ and not forced, you are most likely on the right track to finding it. Nothing ‘good’ comes from something that’s quick to come by.
Find more information about these two talented sisters on their website & instagram! They will be incorporating our new 4mm bundles (in army, forest, ocean, peach, & copper) for their first solo exhibition next year in February at Gallery76 in Sydney, Australia! Stay tuned for more details.