Ever since she was little, fiber artist Mary Hamby’s hands have always twitched to have something to do. As a child, she took art classes, sewing classes, knitting, and crocheting classes. “I soaked it all in,” says the Greenville native who attributes the mixed-media style of her art to this mélange of early experiences.
In college she studied interior design, but found she missed making things with her hands. So, in 2015, Hamby committed to her art. Twenty Two West, the name of her business, commemorates the address of the house in which she grew up in Greenville. After dabbling in different media, she found her true voice in textiles. “I connected with weaving in a way that I never had with any other media,” reflects the self-taught weaver. “In weaving there is a beautiful balance between rules and freedom.”
Hamby and her filmmaker husband recently moved to Charlotte, where she works full-time on her line of wearable art and sculptural mixed-media pieces for the home. Out of financial necessity, Hamby made her first loom herself—a practice she continues to this day out of preference.
Wool Works // Greenville native now Charlotte resident, Mary Hamby is a self-taught weaver. She made her first loom herself and translates that experience into signature sculptures, each unique in their colors and patterns. Hamby named her business Twenty Two West after the Greenville address of the home in which she grew up.
Her delicate fanlike fiber necklaces, weighted with thin pottery bars that she stitches on by hand, were born from a mistake in purchasing. While in college, Hamby was making a white and cream tone-on-tone quilt, and the website for the quilting thread advised her to buy more than she thought she’d need. She ordered 15 spindles, only to find she actually used less than one to stitch her quilt. “I realized I needed to do something with all that leftover thread,” she recalls, “so I wove my first necklace.” She still uses that same type of fine cotton quilting thread to craft her jewelry.
The idea for Hamby’s sculptural loom boxes arose from the necklaces she wove on the loom. With the boxes, she makes a wood frame, builds the loom on it, and creates a weaving from thread, roving (raw wool), and pieces of pottery—often gilded—which she leaves on the loom. Each distinct signed and numbered loom box displays novel patterns, colors, and textures.
You can hear the excitement in Hamby’s voice when she talks about launching her new spring/summer line in early April. For this line, she is collaborating with a farmer friend in Tennessee who will hand-dye thread for the artist using natural materials.
In her art, Hamby aims for equal parts beauty and function. “I love good craftsmanship that will last so that it can be treasured,” she notes. “And I treasure that moment when someone connects with my work.”
You can order Hamby’s work on her website: shoptwentytwowest.com. In Greenville, her jewelry and loom boxes are exclusively available at Art & Light (16 Aiken St.; artandlightgallery.com) in the Village of West Greenville.