Thursday, March 4, 2010
A Quick History
As some of you know (and I am assuming a lot from my reader out there) I am and always have been a feltmaker. A traditional, wet felting, lay it out, felt and dye it feltmaker. And I have been doing this for over 35 years. I have made some changes over the years - types of wool, dye processes and end products. Currently I am using fine merino needle punch batts from Australia to speed up the felting process as my true love is the resist dyeing that comes next. The resulting multi-colored resist dyed felt surface has been the canvas for my art.
I would stitch, cut, restitch, bead, attach small collected objects, stitch again and finally frame the finished felt. In the beginning the resulting felts were huge, sometimes over 8 feet in one direction or the other. They started to get smaller as I realized that many people who wanted to collect my work would almost have to put an addition on their house to fit the artfelt. As I worked smaller, I realized I could work on a number of different ideas at the same time, different felts. Ideas manifested themselves - good and not so good - faster.
What has happened over the last 35 or so years is that I have gone through many changes in the felt object - Large framed artworks, unframed giant felt walls, the wearables-slippers, hats, mittens, scarves, smaller artworks about collections, even smaller framed collections - and now I am at a very wonderful place with small 7" x 9" beaded, stitched and framed "pages", tiny beaded and felted brooches and dear to my heart - the feltbooks.
INSERT NOTE HERE: I have wanted to be a bookbinder for forever. I love books. I read constantly, I have worked in libraries and bookstores, I collect Southern 1st editions, I sell books on Amazon, and I have written three books about feltmaking. I love the deliberate steps to making a book. I love the history that lives in an old book. And even though I seem to spend most of my day on this computer, I have no fear that books will disappear in a virtual world. Our hands need to do more than tap keyboards. We need to feel the heft of the book, the texture of the paper. Our eyes need the designs of covers, photographs, the printed page. And it is very hard to haul a computer up the back yard tree in order to get away from everybody and just read. (Yeah, I know about the Ipad, Kindles and all their ilk, but I am ignoring them to make my point.)
And even through I have been going down both paths of felting and book binding, I was still rather delighted with the January 2010 collision at their intersection when I finally just sat down at the desk in Studio A and made book after book after book - all with stitched and beaded felted covers and pure Lunar Laid text paper. They are making me very happy.