Daphne Woo | Natural Textile Artist | Reconnecting to Nature & Identity

Jun 26, 2020

Daphne Woo

main image | Noud de Rover : location | ReDecor + Design, 5660 A Cowrie St, Sechelt, BC V0N 3A0

“Something shifted me in a way where I want to take more action; I’m not really a person with a lot of words…I feel I am staying silent with my business and I wonder if I should say anything.

But I’m not ready to say anything.”

Daphne Woo.

Textile Artist.

Owner of Amacata Design Concepts.

Around us are individuals, businesses and organizations who have a lot to say on the current situation.

You just need to scroll through your social media for 2 minutes to find that everyone has an opinion.

With COVID-19 hovering, lurking around one of the strongest struggles known to the human race.


But we don’t start out talking about the current climate.

We start by talking about what connects us.  What similarities we have and our opinions on why we are affected as individuals, what our identities are as business owners, and as People of Color.

Identity :

Natural Textile Artist  |  Daphne Woo
photo courtesy of @rosemarymarchcreative

“I don’t know if I’m fully grounded in where I come from.”

This thoughtful artist ponders as we sit comfortable in front of our computer screens, chatting away as if we are outside in the sun eating dairy-free ice cream, but instead using a tool that has become a symbol of communication and connection, both in business and in our personal lives.

Daphne is of Chinese ancestry, born in Canada, who also lived in Europe for 10 years, and has now moved back to her home town.

“What does that mean for me in terms of ‘where I come from’?”

Delving into my ancestry is constantly evolving by these stories that my mother and my auntie provide.  Stories come through our elders; there’s nowhere else for us to get it because they’re not documented anywhere.”

“It’s sorta my craving to find out more and how it impacts me as a person and how it shows up in my work, as an offering in my art, and in my conversations.

As an artist, as an individual you are constantly evolving, but I’m finding I’m incorporating a lot more of my individuality into my pieces without really having known it!  It just sorta happens as an organic thing.

When you look at my work, people have said that there’s a lot of Japanese influence in it and I don’t necessarily see that.”

A lecturer from Daphne’s student days at Capilano College, Yvonne Wakabayashi, who is of Japanese ancestry, became and still is, a mentor and dear friend and is also a source of influence and inspiration.

“This plays a huge role in my work, and a lot of the materials and the tools I use have been handed down to me from Yvonne, who is now in her 80’s, which plays a role in my style but also the philosophies behind Japanese craftmanship.

Philosophies around mending what you already have.  Creating new from old, there’s so much of that intertwined within Japanese ethics.  Such as not wasting anything; regeneration.  Beauty in things that are considered old. There isn’t much of a disposable mentality in that ethic.

And I find ways to incorporate and to link that into my own Chinese ancestry.”

The values embedded in her work, through the use of regeneration, show a concern of well-being for the planet, harmonious relationships with people and how we can incorporate these into our everyday lives.

 Refurbished Cube Lamp, Indigo-dyed Cotton using Shibori techniques from amacata.com
 Refurbished Cube Lamp, Indigo-dyed Cotton using Shibori techniques $480CAD available at ReDecor + Design.

Taking second hand lamps and removing a broken shade and replacing it with naturally dyed, artisan shade, gives a broken object new life, it’s regenerated.

Deconstructing a wedding dress, adding natural dyes and textile techniques to create wall art that has a deeper meaning that is not seen necessarily to the causal observer, but is only visible with a conversation.

At first I thought there was a contradiction in what Daphne was saying, as she notes that she doesn’t realise that there is a specific influence in her work until a viewer of the work remarks on it, but yet she talks about her dear friend who encompasses these values and techniques and in turn inspires Daphne.

Perhaps this is a case of the artist not realizing how much of an influence her mentor has in her work, because she is surrounded by it constantly, and so it becomes part of her norm?

Art: the process

Indigo-Dyed Silk Wall Hanging or Table Runner, using Shibori techniques from amacata.com
Indigo-Dyed Silk Wall Hanging or Table Runner, using Shibori techniques $620CAD contact artist for details.

“I have so many ideas about what I could make…but I find myself being more motivated when I have a commission piece to do!”

Conversing with the client, to identify the need and then working with that specific need to find the parameters regarding the shape and form of the work; 2D vs 3D, style, colors, size, materials, the amount of exposure to people, are just a few considerations taken when a commission is accepted. 

Asking precise questions gains the trust of the client.

From this point, Daphne interprets the clients’ needs and mixes her sense of style into the piece.

Functionality :

Spending 20 years in the apparel industry, focusing on product that has a specific function, Daphne then uses this acquired skill and applies it to her work.

Which opens up the question, what is the function of art?

Some functions are more obvious than others, such as a lamp, but what about a deconstructed wedding dress?  What does this symbolize?  Is it the answer obvious, or is it something more?

And this is one of the functions of art.  It creates a conversation; a discussion.  It creates curiosity and awareness.

Textile Artist Daphne Woo | “Water is Life” | created for the offices of SFU Beedie School of Business in Vancouver. Consisting of 4 mounted pieces of 100% Silk, naturally dyed with avocado pits + peels, eucalyptus leaves, onion skin, and indigo. Using Arashi Shibori technique.
Textile Artist Daphne Woo | “Water is Life” | created for the offices of SFU Beedie School of Business in Vancouver. Consisting of 4 mounted pieces of 100% Silk, naturally dyed with avocado pits + peels, eucalyptus leaves, onion skin, and indigo. Using Arashi Shibori technique.

The conversation that art creates, is perhaps because words can’t yet describe what is being shown or explored.

Art is a communication form that adds to the conversation that shows inclusion of other cultures, that aren’t necessarily our own, but who shares the same values and philosophies that we do.

And what better time than now, to be able to create and to be curious about our surroundings and the people who inspire and those who hold different opinions from us.

“I need to be able to create the right actions and be grounded in what needs to be done professionally and personally and to be authentic around that.

I don’t know if I can separate my business from my personal being.”

Connect with Daphne :

Contact Daphne via her website Amacata.com

Follow Amacata on Instagram

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