Felt from wool is believed to be one of the oldest known textiles. It requires no mechanics to create. Remains of felt artifacts have been found that date back to 6500 BC. Most commonly felt has been used for practical purposes such as clothing and shelter(yurts).
Before I began felt making twenty years ago, tapestry weaving and screen printing were my original modes of expression. As a tapestry weaver from Finland where felt making has been part of the culture for a long time the switch between spun fibers and unspun fibers as a vehicle for artistic expression come naturally.
Just like a painter uses brush strokes of paint on canvas to create their vision, I begin with a neutral background of wool and use other natural fibers as my brush strokes. Before the inspiration can begin to evolve I create my own canvas using perpendicular layers of natural merino wool. Raw or dyed unspun fibers such as mohair, silk and linen become my strokes of paint that I carefully place onto the mass of merino wool. As painters layer their paint I layer the fibers to create an image. Each piece evolves as the thoughts and inspirations flow from the mind to the fibers. When the composition is complete to my satisfaction, I subject the mass of fibers to the traditional felt making process. This is how the fibers become bound to create a solid piece of textile. Unlike painting on canvas my work shrinks by a third. I need to be able to visualize the poofy mass of fibers as a solid piece of fabric that has condensed by a third. The final touches to a piece may involve embroidery, crocheting, weaving with in the pieces, upcycled bits from the beach, etc.. what ever it takes until it is complete and ready for my signature. I really try not to give myself limits and boundaries on technique.
I am dedicated to experimenting, pushing my boundaries and the boundaries of the fibers. Along with "painting" with natural fibers I also create sculptural pieces as well as combination pieces of fine art in fiber and wood with my husband Douglas Drdul. He is a trained wood carver, instrument builder and the creator of my beautiful frames.
The beauty and unique properties of natural fibers make it possible for me to convey my endless appreciation and joy in observing the nature around us and the nature of fibres.
Cleaning your Textile Art
You can vacuum the piece by pressing the piece against a clean screen door and vacuum through the screen on low suction while holding the nozzle a couple of inches away from the surface or if no screen door hold the nozzle approx. 3inches away from surface with the vacuum on low suction. Once a year is more than enough!!! The reason I recommend this method of cleaning is because this is how archivists of textiles at museums recommend doing it. When you let people know that this is how archivists of textiles recommend doing it........you will not get funny looks! I have attached a link from the Victoria and Albert museum in UK http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/c/cleaning-textiles/