As a felt artist, I work experimentally to develop new methods. I enjoy the risk involved with pioneering new techniques and the problem solving one must do to produce a desired result. I am challenged to create feltworks that fit with our contemporary environment and venture beyond the strong ethnic heritage that often accompanies this medium. Each piece is developed by intuitively responding to color, texture and the many organic forms within nature. My goal in working exclusively in the felt medium is to enlighten and promote awareness of this beautiful art form.
A few words about felt:
In making felt I experiment primarily with two methods consisting of the traditional wet technique dating to prehistoric times and a dry method which has evolved in the twentieth century. The following is a brief description of each method.
Wet felt is produced by placing layers of wool fleece in alternate directions, covering it to prevent the fibers from shifting and rubbing, and then bearing and scouring with hot water and soap until the fibers melt together. After a significant amount of time rubbing, beating and scouring with hot water, the fleece begins to emerge as a piece of wool fabric. I am fascinated by this natural fiber which can magically make itself into a piece of cloth or emerge as a free standing sculpture form.
Because the process is determined by the innate qualities of the wool fiber, it is difficult to control the finished image. I work with a palette of many fleece colors; mixing and bleeding much like a painter. I needle some of the graphic shapes in the design so the fibers maintain their position during the felting process. In addition to the layered fleece, in some instances, prefelted pieces or commercial fabrics are embedded in the surface as the fibers begin to connect and mat together. The wall reliefs are molded over an armature of hardware cloth and polyester boxing.
Dry felting, or needle punched felt, is the process by which one uses a needle to form the loose fleece into a solid form. A needle is punched into the loose fleece thousands of times compacting and connecting the fibers until the mass becomes solid. This process is a derivative of the large commercial needle machines which produce commercial felt. The medium excites me because by punching one needle at a time I can control both the color and the form of the finished art piece.