Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Interesting Or Not So Interesting Felt Painter Diane

When I saw Diane's wonderful felt paintings, I knew I wanted to know more. As someone who doesn't do felting or ever tried I was highly intrigued to find out not only more about this craft and but also about the wonderful painting like images she creates with this medium.

Q. Diane, I would love for you to be the next interviewee with interesting or not so interesting people for my blog. Are you up for it? Which category do you think you fall into interesting or not so interesting? Reasons?
A. I must be interesting. I believe that everyone is interesting in some way. The problem is that we all try to hide the very things that make us interesting because interesting is often synonymous with different. Finally I am old enough not to mind being different.

Q. You create some of the most wonderful felted paintings, where did this idea come from?
A. I actually got the idea from looking at the work of a felt artist named Andrea Hunter. Her work really showed me that felt can be fine art. I was very proud that a couple of months ago I had one of my pieces of felt accepted in an juried art show that was almost all oil and acrylic paintings.
Q. In your work you use wet felting and needle felting, sometimes both in the same piece. What are the major differences between these two methods? What should a consumer look for to know they buying something well made?
A. Wet felting is done by layering bits of fiber on a flat surface, adding hot soapy water and doing quite a bit of rubbing. The felting occurs because there are microscopic scales on the fibers that open up in the hot water. The rubbing causes them to entangle so much that they can not be pulled apart. Needle felting uses a barbed needle to poke the dry fibers to get them to tangle together. When I do one of my felt paintings I first lay out what I consider to be an underpainting. I put in all the big areas of color using wool roving. Then I add smaller bits of wool for more detail and lastly I add things like yarn or silk fibers. This pile of fibers is then wet felted. When this underpainting is dry I needle felt in some sharper detail like blades of grass for example. With wet felting I can be more spontaneous but needle felting allows me to put in the detail I want.
As it is becoming more popular there is also alot more bad felt out there. Some of it looks barely held together. Many of us just don't full (agitate) the felt enough. I still have this problem sometimes.
With well made felt you should not be able to see where individual fibers go as they should be too tangled. If you stretch the felt it should pull back, not stay stretched out.

Q. Are there any other mediums you are thinking about or looking into for use in your felting works/pieces?
A.I just took a workshop on silk and a workshop on dyeing, so I am hoping to do more work with dyeing my own silk and fibers. I love nuno felt, which is when the wool fibers are allowed to penetrate the weave of a fabric before felting creating a new fabric. I want to try making some bigger pieces of clothing from this fabric.

Q. What have been some of your biggest learning curves you've had with felting?
A.My biggest learning curve has been learning how to do the business end of things especially in the age of computers! I am a self taught felter who found a great mentor in Christine White who is the author of Uniquely Felt. It was serendipity meeting her.

Q. You seem quiet passionate about your craft, what is it abut felting you love?
A.Felting seems to so perfect for me in so many ways. My favorite part of the process is feeling the felt change as it begins to go from a soggy pile of loose fibers to a cohesive piece of cloth. I have found that all of my senses are heightened when I am creating. Many mediums only appeal to my sense of sight and touch but when I am felting I also enjoy the smell of the soap and the sounds of the water. My sister who tried it one day said it was “kind of like making mud pies when we were kids but you don’t get dirty.” I also love that it uses a sustainable material and I can create useful objects of beauty. I could go on and on.

Q.Working a full time day job as an illustrator, working as a artist and a mother, what are your key tips in being top of everything and staying organised?
A.Well, I have actually only been working part-time and my kids are pretty well grown so I have it easier than a lot of the women I know. And to tell the truth I am not organized even though I am a Virgo!

Q. What's new coming up? Any new projects or exhibitions on the way?
A. I am a member of the Northeast Feltmakers Guild and we are having an exhibit at the Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council later this month. I am also going to teach a few classes on making one of my felt flower pins. I also have a few orders to fill. Then I can get back to playing!

Q. Where can people find out more about you and is there any websites you want to plug?

A.I don't have my own website but I do have some pictures of my felting process up at www.flickr.com/photos/feltinspiration
People can purcahse my work online through Etsy www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=6245200
The Northeast Feltmakers Guild has some great information www.northeastfeltmakersguild.org
New England Felting Supply which is home to Chris White and my store for wool www.feltingsupply.com
And my other source of information, Pat Spark's feltmakers list www.members.peak.org

Q. Thank you Diane, hope you've enjoyed this short Q&A?
A. Thank you Nicole for this opportunity. It really was a nice experience and you are a fantastic interviewer. Watch out Barbara Walters!

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