How were you first introduced to felt?
I was a public school art teacher, middle school, for almost 30 years. Every few years we would have to recertify our teaching license by taking a class. I happened to take a week of traditional wet felting with Heidi Paul (USA), and that was it! I was hooked totally. In my first 5 days of felting, I learned how to make mittens, slippers, several hats, a purse, and a laminated scarf. The versatility of this medium made me absolutely joyful.
What are you favorite wools with which to work?
Oh my, this is quite a question. Over the last few years I have gone in the direction of vessels and three-dimensional shapes. My choices of wools for a good hard vessel are Finn, Icelandic and BFL/Gotland crosses. I do find that I still enjoy working with Merino, but it does make me work thicker and harder to achieve my goal. There are so many wonderful wools to try and I find more and more shepherds are crossbreeding their flocks to create the perfect wools for many different forms of felting. It seems every time I teach a workshop my students introduce me to another terrific wool. I guess I am still searching for MY favorite wool and having fun doing it.
From what do you get your inspiration?
I have found my inspiration in several places.
I believe I gained the most inspiration from living in the Hawaiian Islands during my high school years. I was very inspired by the sea, the Hawaiian rain forest and all its flora and fauna. Since my move from Hawaii, I have been to the Ecuadorian Amazon, Beleize and Costa Rica. Each rainforest was equally exciting and inspirational. When I am in need of color inspiration or forms I turn to 2 books by Thomas Marent, Butterfly and Rainforest.
The second large influence was my college jewelry design and ceramics classes. My approach to felt vessels is much like my approach was to ceramics. I find the engineering challenges extremely exciting.
The final big influence is living in the country. On my walks around our land I collect bones, dried pods, interesting stick roots and peace of mind.
What is your background? (feel free to discuss family, education, prior artistic experience, whatever you care to share…)
I was born into a military family and we traveled all over the globe, ending with my school years in Hawaii. I still love to travel and explore new areas, but happily I seem to gravitate back to the comfort of my past 46 years here in Northwest Ohio. It’s funny how all the memories I made going to college, falling in love, raising a family, and finding felting made living in flat, lackluster Northwest Ohio pretty great.
I taught Middle School art for almost 30 years in Ohio and loved every minute of it. I can honestly say there were very few days I didn’t want to go in to work. I feel very fortunate that I still loved my job on the day I retired. BUT, teaching felt, making my own exhibition pieces and experimenting with all the forms of felt making totally gratifies me. No regrets about retirement.
What are you favorite materials to combine with felt?
I enjoy using dyed plastics, dried pods, bones, metals and other found objects in my felt works. I love to shop in hardware stores, junkyards and thrift stores.
What would you like to try that you have not done before? (installation art, books, wearable’s, teaching, dyeing, raising your own sheep..or even a new artistic field or media…)
I would love to do an installation as well as try my hand at writing a book on three-dimensional/sculptural felting.
Are you currently working on a special project that you would like to share?
I feel I am beginning a transition in my art. My interests seem to be moving into a more sculptural and abstract form, and less into teapots or vessels. I do still love the teapot form, and collecting and making teapots has been a passion of mine for some time now. Time will tell where my new journey will take me.
Can you share with us 5 names of inspiring artists or work, not necessarily in the textile field.
- Jennifer McCurdy (potter) jennifermccurdy.com
- Georgia O’Keefe (painter)
- Fiber Forum, a wonderful group of fiber artist in Ohio. These women have been a great source of support and have continued to nourish my fiber spirit. Their work always inspires me.
- Jorie Johnson (felter)
- All the amazing Japanese fiber artists, who take fiber arts to the next level.
If you could set up an exhibit (group or solo), where would you do it and what would it look like?
Anywhere with anyone at any time.