One Artist’s Journey into Fiber

Our guest artist today is Jill Chadek with Merino and Mulberry in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.  She is also our banner sponsor for May on the Felt and Fiber Studio Forum.

To touch something soft and silky awakens our earliest emotions!
The pleasure of the touch of silk started my exploration of silk painting. A few
years later I was introduced to felting, that magical process of transforming
dampened clumps of wool fibers into cloth! Then, when I discovered that I
could incorporate the two, working the fibers to lock into the silk I was hooked!

12 Sunrise on the Reef20120613_611112 Sunrise on the Reef20120912_6769

Through time, that magical process of felting has inspired and allowed me to
express my passion for color, pattern and texture. Felting, allows me to “paint”
with fibers to create personal accessories such as scarves, shawls, vest, hats
and handbags.

20 Laguna20120804_6493 38 Chimeralure20141112_0973

Prior to felting I had dabbled in many mediums but none have held my
attention and interest like felting has. I love working with my hands, the tactile
experience of painting with the fine and silky fibers. It still makes me catch my
breath when I wet the fibers down and the wool gets all loose feeling. I have to
remind myself that soon the fibers will start to migrate and tangle and the
magic of creating a fabric will happen right in my hands!

G6 Cloud Dreams20121020_6941If you are new to felting, have patience and have fun! It will be frustrating at
times! There are as many different ways to create felt as there are felters, and
you will find that everyone swears their way is best! So many variables are at
play: the type of fibers, water hardness and temperature, soap, pressure,
thickness, and added embellishments, just to name a few. No wonder no simple
equation will work! It is only through exploration and experience that you will
learn the “feel” of the fibers at the different stages. So have fun and play!

H7 Josie20130904_7157 H4 Ginger20130904_7131

Though I consciously have a design in mind when I start a project, my
unconscious, and the fibers influence my hands and the final outcome, which is
usually fabulous!

H32 Clea20141112_0861 H3 Daphne20130904_7115

I enjoy that even after all of my years as a felting artist there is still something
new to learn and to explore. Right now I am loving creating hats! I do not use
any hat forms but instead let each hat tell me what shape it would like to be. I
love that while making a fashion statement they are also keeping it’s wearer
cozy warm! I am truly grateful for the joy that I experience in the creation of
each item and trust that wonderful emotions are also awakened in the wearer.
Please feel free to browse my website www.merinoandmulberry.com. It is my hope
that my creations will inspire you to stretch and grow as a felting artist. Also on
my website you can view a video of me using the E-Z Roller Felting Machine of
which I am the international representative. This machine has allowed me to
continue felting when I was experiencing terrible vertigo and more recently
when I had shoulder and neck problems. It removes the 1 negative of felting –
the physical chore of rolling your project, therefore allowing you to focus on the
fun, creative aspect of this beautiful medium. If you would like to learn more,
just contact me!

Thanks for sharing your artist journey with us Jill!

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20 Responses to One Artist’s Journey into Fiber

  1. Leonor says:

    Jill, I’m in awe of your hats, they’re so beautiful – and you say you don’t use a form? I didn’t even know that was possible (with such a lovely outcome). Well done, and keep making gorgeous items for our viewing pleasure!

    • Jill says:

      Thank you Leonor for your kind words. I do wish that I had had time to update my website prior to this post as I have many new product designs. Unfortunately, I have been busy recently with health issues with my aging parents and of course, they take priority.

    • Leonor says:

      I know all about life happening… Show us your new things when you put them in your site!

  2. zedster66 says:

    It’s nice to meet more members of the community! I love the colours of the first scarf, Jill 🙂

    • Jill says:

      Thank you! I am surprised that that scarf has not sold yet! I too love the colors! I started with a piece of silk that I had hand painted which alone was beautiful. Once felted it looked even more gorgeous! Isn’t it fun to play with different color combinations!

  3. ruthlane says:

    Thanks for the post Jill – it’s nice to see your work and hear about your journey. Your scarves and hats are beautiful.

  4. lyn says:

    Your scarves and hats are beautiful and I too am amazed that you get those shapes without a form.

    • Jill says:

      I have to admit that I owe thanks to my fellow felting friend Sidney. We explored making hats together. My hats tend to be symmetrical (fedoras, riding caps, bell) but Sidney would let the hat create itself, always a beautiful organic shape. It is in working side by side with her that I have learned to loosen up my shapes. If you are blessed with a friend that felts, work together every now and then. The creative juices will flow and you will learn tips from each other. Don’t have a friend who felts? Teach someone! You’ll be amazed at what you know when you give your knowledge to another.

  5. Great post Jill. Your hats and scarves are beautiful. I have never painted on silk but it is on my to do list.

    • Jill says:

      Hi Ann! Thank you for the compliment! My suggestion for easy silk painting to start is working with a fiber reactive dye such as Procion (available through Dharma trading). Try ice dying, it’s so very easy and you will get beautiful results! Have fun!

    • I do scrunch dyeing in a jar for scarves

  6. Marilyn aka Pandagirl says:

    Thanks Jill. I’d love to learn how to make those beautiful hats without a hat form. All your work is beautiful, like Zed I love the first scarf. Its so springlike which we have sorely been waiting for here in Illinois.

    • Jill says:

      Thanks Marilyn! What I especially like about free form hats is that the shape is not perfect. That way you know it’s handmade – I don’t want to mimic what a machine can do! I believe that there are videos (books) out there on making hats. Once you get the basic bell shape just work the felt, throwing and tugging it, putting the warm wet blob on your head every now and then until you start getting a shape you like. TIP: to create ridges that will stay, clip them with clothes pins or binder clips until almost dry. Have fun!

    • Marilyn aka Pandagirl says:

      Thanks fir the tips Jill! I like organic shapes, too.

  7. susan says:

    I know Jill personally! We both have homes in the same park in Florida!
    She has shared her many artful talents with us in the park and we always come away with a beautiful piece of art work whether it be jewelry, painted glass, felting and our project this year was a shirt using powered colors and ice! What a treat it has been to be part of her classes!

    • Jill says:

      Thank you Susan for your kind words. It’s been fun to introduce many different art mediums to you and the other ladies at Bass Lake Resort. It’s very rewarding to see how wonderful everyone’s projects turn out, even those who claim to have no artistic talent. Personally, I believe that everyone is creative, we all just have different ways of expressing it!

  8. Patricia A vivier-Naidl says:

    Hi, Jill—–You deserve high praise for your beautiful art pieces. I not only treasure you as a dear friend but am delighted to be able to wear some of this wonderful wearable art!!!! Hugs, Laotang

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