The felting process is beautifully simple, transforming wool fibres into 2- and 3-dimensional objects through the simple addition of soapy water and hand friction.
What craft do you work with?
I have been working almost exclusively with felt for the last 25 years. I was an agriculture student studying sheep reproduction and after a year working on a sheep farm in New Zealand, I became the first professional female sheep shearer in Japan. That was how I became interested in wool. I had taken weaving, knitting and textile design courses during university but I really fell in love with the art of felt making just after I finished the course. The felting process is beautifully simple, transforming wool fibres into 2- and 3-dimensional objects through the simple addition of soapy water and hand friction.
What inspires you to work with this craft?
As the animal that has the longest history of domestication, sheep support our food, shelter and clothing, so felting is one of the oldest textile techniques known to humans. That ancient heritage inspires me. The origin of this craft lies in creating something unique and hand-made, not only to serve a function, but to make our lives more colourful and rich. You can felt different materials with wool but I love wool.
How do you start your creative process?
A word, an incident, the natural environment around me connect to my memories, my feelings and my experiences and they become shapes, colours, lines and textures. It is a revelatory process to transform my memories, feelings and experience into something visible and touchable, and it is a process that can take many years.
How would you best describe your workspace and what tools could you not do without?
Felting is a very simple and ancient technique, and does not require elaborate technology or complicated machinery. All I need is a warm, large, clean space with large windows. I’m still working on that, but in the meantime, my workshop – sometimes cold, cramped, crowded with materials – in the Blackstairs mountains gives me spectacular views when I step out of my door! No machines or tools can replace my hands. We have such an advanced technology in this 21st century but it is important to remember there are things only your hands can do
Are there new techniques you would like to try?
I am more interested in exploring different hand skills rather than pressing the buttons of machines and computers, but I am always very open to learn new skills and techniques from teachers and practitioners who are passionate about their craft.
What is the best advice you have received that you would like to share with fellow crafters?
The best advice I have received is about taking time to achieve what you want and enjoying the process of making. Of course, sometimes there is pressure to finish certain pieces, but it is very important to remember why I chose to be a craft person, because I love making felt.
What professional dream do you have?
Felt making is usually a very solitary craft, but more recently, collaboration has become like a new form of communication to me and in the last few years, I have designed and produced work with wood workers, ceramicists, jewellers and sculptors. Before the pandemic, I had spent a lot of my time traveling to teach felt making, so felting keeping me on the move. Now I want to spend more time at home, creating my own work, using it to express our existence and to enrich everyday life. I want to see how much we can live on wool!
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