Chris Acton brings a lost art form to life

"To carry on the tradition and bring awareness of weaving to the folks around me is a great honor."

Photo Credit: Jillian Pancini

Chris Acton brings a lost art form to life

Written by: Crystal Lynn Kamm
March 19, 2018


When Chris Acton set out to create her artisan weaving business, Acton Creative, she designed her career around her passion for the art form. From a childhood love of making homemade gifts with family to a tendency toward creativity which followed her into adulthood, Chris’s work springs from a desire to create something timeless. The nearly lost art form of loom weaving is a slow and meticulous process that allows Chris to give each piece a life of its own, whether it’s a cross-body bag, wall art, or some other unique design. 

How did you first get into weaving? 
I started weaving in 2005. But looking back, so many things set me up for it earlier in life. I grew up with very crafty women. Grandma Schafer was a home economics teacher and my Ma taught elementary school.

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When Chris Acton set out to create her artisan weaving business, Acton Creative, she designed her career around her passion for the art form. From a childhood love of making homemade gifts with family to a tendency toward creativity which followed her into adulthood, Chris’s work springs from a desire to create something timeless. The nearly lost art form of loom weaving is a slow and meticulous process that allows Chris to give each piece a life of its own, whether it’s a cross-body bag, wall art, or some other unique design. 

How did you first get into weaving? 
I started weaving in 2005. But looking back, so many things set me up for it earlier in life. I grew up with very crafty women. Grandma Schafer was a home economics teacher and my Ma taught elementary school.

We created many Christmas and birthday presents. So handmade items were really considered special, partly because of the item itself and partly because of the experience of making it.  

I have a degree in interior design and after college, I went the corporate route. In 2005, I remember one day thinking that I just wanted to make stuff. I had no preconceived notion of what that would look like. But I knew I needed to stretch myself. 

After searching the various art classes in the Chicago suburbs, I settled on a weaving class at TLD Design Center in Westmont with Tammy Deck. It was love at first sight! 

What inspired you to turn this art form into a business
I went about the process of starting Acton Creative all wrong. When I jumped ship from my full-time job, I only knew that I wanted to be a weaver. So, I had no plan. I don’t know that I would recommend taking that route. But knowing me, if I hadn’t just followed my gut, I would have been paralyzed by the details and the unknowns.  

The upside to not starting with a detailed business plan is that my weaving style, my products, my overall brand has really developed slowly, but genuinely.  

What goals do you see for yourself, artistically and/or professionally?
Artistically, my goal is to continue pushing myself to create beautiful, rhythmic, interesting fabric that functions well in real life.

Photo Credit: Jillian Pancini
Chris Acton
Photo Credit: Jillian Pancini
Chris Acton

We created many Christmas and birthday presents. So handmade items were really considered special, partly because of the item itself and partly because of the experience of making it.  

I have a degree in interior design and after college, I went the corporate route. In 2005, I remember one day thinking that I just wanted to make stuff. I had no preconceived notion of what that would look like. But I knew I needed to stretch myself. 

After searching the various art classes in the Chicago suburbs, I settled on a weaving class at TLD Design Center in Westmont with Tammy Deck. It was love at first sight! 

What inspired you to turn this art form into a business
I went about the process of starting Acton Creative all wrong. When I jumped ship from my full-time job, I only knew that I wanted to be a weaver. So, I had no plan. I don’t know that I would recommend taking that route. But knowing me, if I hadn’t just followed my gut, I would have been paralyzed by the details and the unknowns.  

The upside to not starting with a detailed business plan is that my weaving style, my products, my overall brand has really developed slowly, but genuinely.  

What goals do you see for yourself, artistically and/or professionally?
Artistically, my goal is to continue pushing myself to create beautiful, rhythmic, interesting fabric that functions well in real life.

Weaving is an incredibly slow process. But, it means that I can make a million different choices with each bolt of fabric. In the future, I would like to play with more nontraditional materials. These days, the emphasis on recycling and repurposing is just awesome. And weaving is a perfect vehicle for that. 

Secondly, I want to get the word out about custom projects. With weaving, I can take Grandpa’s ties or Mom’s silk scarves and create fabric used in handbags or pillows or wallets. I can also create home goods that will precisely match your decor. I really enjoy the challenge of custom projects, whether it is creating something specific per a customer’s vision, or weaving a family heirloom that can be enjoyed by current and future generations.  

What obstacles have you had to face as a businesswoman and an artist? 
I think the biggest obstacle is how to be unique. Ironically, I started really developing my own style once I stopped worrying about what everyone else was doing and simply went with my gut, trying new things. 

Do you feel it’s important to educate others about lost art forms?
One of the key elements of the Acton Creative brand is spreading the love of weaving. So to help with that, I always bring my table loom with me to events. I’ve found that the average person has never seen a weaver in action. When you think back through history and ponder the original crafts, weaving is one of them. So for me to carry on the tradition and bring awareness of weaving to the folks around me is a great honor. 

Photo Credit: Jillian Pancini
Photo Credit: Jillian Pancini
Photo Credit: Jillian Pancini
Photo Credit: Jillian Pancini