Two Images of Felted Yardage, Un-cut!

Published in: on August 24, 2011 at 10:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ancient Craft, New Technology

I started my art career as an illustrator: cartoonist for my high school and college papers, and then professional illustrator, always working in pen and ink, sometimes by candlelight.  When the bottle of India ink got low and I opened a new bottle, I’d pour the new bottle into the old and shake it gently, because that old, slightly thickened ink had a wonderful consistency and richness.    Back then I worked carefully, because a drip or misplaced line could ruin a drawing.  Now, with computers, there are no mistakes that cannot be fixed.   As much as I loved drawing,  I hated drawing on computers.  It felt unnatural,  like kissing someone through a computer screen.

Now I enjoy the ancient craft of feltmaking.  It’s very low tech: I layer wool and other fibers, wet them and roll them and basically agitate them into shape.  I don’t use any gizmos other than household/kitchen utensils: bubble wrap, rattan blinds, old towels, a ladle, a slotted spoon, a whisk, the legs of nylon stockings to tie up the rolled fibers, tiny wooden skewers with which to craft detailed work.   I’m so in love with this physical, labor-intensive craft.

Now I need to take this relationship to the next level.  I really want to try to share/sell work online, via  I am on a new-to-me computer, just learning how to implement its bells and whistles.  My approach to feltmaking could be called “metaphysical” in that I seek to imbue my work with a spiritual quality or with some essence of nature that might transcend the material and give the viewer/wearer a direct sense of nature.  It seems strange to photograph this work, transfer the images onto a computer, and send it into cyberspace — this work that’s so close to my heart.

I am thinking of this venture more like opening a tiny gallery shop, and seeing who might stop by.  Years ago, I found some vintage fabrics online.  There were images of the fabrics, which were lovely, and a phone number — but no way to order online.  When I phoned the number the owner said she wanted people to call her to order so she could ask them “What are you going to do with the fabric?” because she really wanted to connect with her customers.  This makes sense to me as an artist.

In the coming weeks I’ll seek to balance the very slow, low tech of studio time with the possibilities of a fast computer and the vast potential of etsy.   I can feel the part of me that just wants to sit by candlelight in the solitude of the studio, like a monk working on an illuminated manuscript in Latin; and I can feel the part of me that wants to become fluent in the language of technology.  While I hope to set up a virtual “shop” on, I’ll also be dedicating part of a studio space in my home for an actual little “shop” area where I’ll organize the work offered on the etsy site.   In this way, high-tech and low-tech can co-exist.   I’d love for those visiting my etsy site to feel like they are beng warmly welcomed to visit my studio.

Published in: on August 24, 2011 at 5:21 pm  Leave a Comment