I thought I would talk a little about my life prior to discovering wool and felting. It just goes to show that you never know where you’re going to end up in life.
My path in life has definitely not been straight but it’s been interesting. I was never sure what I wanted to be when I grew up and could never understand how someone at the age of 18 or 19 knew exactly what they wanted to do for the rest of his/her life. I was encouraged to get a degree in Physical Therapy by my parents, as one of their friend’s daughter was a P.T. and she “had a good career”. I worked as a Physical Therapist for 15 years and then decided that I couldn’t keep doing something I didn’t enjoy. I then took a giant leap of faith by opening a fine craft gallery with my sister, moving from Florida to Northwest Montana in the process. Most people thought I had lost my mind (including my parents). But I think life is short and it’s really important to do what you love.
That was thirteen years ago and even though I had no retail knowledge, I have survived. It has been a real learning experience. I love hand crafted work but had never found any craft that I was passionate about until I discovered fiber and felting in 2007. It all started with a magazine article about making silk paper. I got the supplies and made several silk paper projects. Then I started looking online for other fiber arts and discovered felting. I started with needle felting and then tried wet felting, nuno felting, machine needle felting as well as a variety of mixed media techniques with felting. The first time I made my own piece of felt cloth out of a pile of fibers, I was hooked.
Q-3 Three types of fiber you can’t live without
I love playing with lots of different fibers and different wool breeds. It’s so fun to see how each one reacts differently to the felting process. Limiting me to three favorites is difficult. One fiber I use frequently is Mixed 56’s and I like it because it is inexpensive, it felts easily and I can use it for felting the small cat toys and other production items that I sell. Another fiber I love is silk in all its forms. The sheen of the silk against wool is always beautiful. I have just recently discovered short fiber merino batts and they are wonderful. They felt so quickly, are simple to lay out and if I made beads or cords frequently, it would be a must have fiber.
Q-2 Two tools you use all the time
Lately, I would have to say that the most used tools have been my sewing machine and a borrowed drum carder. I love to use felt as the base for free motion machine embroidery. The textures you can create with thread and felt are amazing. The drum carder is an absolutely wonderful tool and I have one on my wish list. I recently washed a Merino fleece and have been carding the wool. It is also great fun to combine and blend a variety of fibers to make one-of-a-kind batts.
Q-1 One fiber art technique you love the most
Again, it is difficult to choose just one technique. I love to experiment and try different techniques so that would probably fall under Mixed Media. One part of Mixed Media that I have been experimenting with recently is surface design techniques on felt such as screen printing, stamping, discharge, and use of resists such as flour paste.
I am really excited to be joining these other talented felters in our “studio”. I hope you’ll follow along and jump into the felting and fiber fun with us.