The current show in the Quesnel Art Gallery explores the world of felting as interpreted by five local artists, Maggie Ferguson-Dumais, Jen Webster, Diane Thompson, Lou Dobie and Marlene Hohertz.
Felting is described as non-woven cloth that is produced by matting, condensing and pressing woolen fibres, however that is only the beginning of the journey.
For the Love of Felt showcases everything from animal play toys to whimsical fairy tale characters and everything functional and decorative in between.
Diane Thompson has been felting since 1997 and said as a fibre producer of cashmire and wool, she wanted to express art with her fibre and felting fit.
“I’m not a knitter,” she said. “After the first workshop, I was hooked.”
Thompson’s work primarily employs wet felting and she said there’s an unpredictability with this process.
“There’s a surpise element as to how it turns out with wet felting,” she added.
Thompson particularly enjoys nuno felting which is a wet felting using extremely fine fibre such as marino wool, but she’s happy to use her own cashmere.
“I’m addicted to cashmere.”
Jen Webster has enjoyed felting for four years.
“I discovered felting by accident,” she said.
“I was working with crafting felt and was looking online and discovered needle felting. I ordered a starter kit and fell in love, it’s so versatile.”
She said felting is something you can do fairly quickly and feel gratified.
Webster has explored wet felting and says there are still so many techniques to discover.
One of her signature sculptures includes a rabbit which begins with commercial felt, is needle felted and hand sewn together. She has also completed other animals.
“I like needle-felting and will probably stick with the technique I enjoy,” she said.
With a lot of wool on hand from her own flock, Lou Dobie has enjoyed spinning. After attending a seminar seven years ago in Norwegian felting, Dobie completed a three dimensional item right away and was hooked.
“I like the different textures and found some of my wool lent itself to felting rather than spinning,” she said.
Dobie confessed she prefers function over form and her work all have a purpose. However, she also say she loves playing with felting and using the many colours available. She said her felt balls are great dog/cat toys and even bounce as balls for children. Even half a ball makes a great pin cushion.
“I’ve been four months laid up with an injury and it’s been neat to still be able to produce felt art,” she said.
“I had a large project ready to go but couldn’t stand up long enough to do it.”
Dobie is looking forward to producing clothing with her felting techniques.
Dobie was also instrumental in introducing Marlen Hohertz to the world of felting. She’s been spinning and weaving for more than 10 years, but doing this art form for just over a year.
“My pieces are an expression of my feelings,” she said.
“It’s been a way to express myself.”
In contrast to Dobie’s functional approach to felting, Hohertz leans more to the form.
“The feeling of the fibre, you start with raw fibre, then you form it in your hanging.
Although she works with wet felting as well, Hohertz prefers needle felting, “I can do more detail of what I want to show.”
Many of her pieces in the show are a memorial to her son who she tragically lost recently.
The fifth artist in the show draws much of her inspiration and techniques from her background as a soft sculptor in the 1980s.
“Textiles, textures, wool and the various applications have permeated my life, including working on a sheep farm,” Maggie Ferguson-Dumias said.
“I learned I disliked sheep but loved wool.”
After many years as a watercolourist (she has no plans to give that up), Ferguson-Dumais looked around at the wool, supplies and books she had collected and tried her hand at felting small birds.
“My chickadees and chickens were warmly received,” she said.
So when she was asked to participate in this show, she expanded her felting horizons.
Fairy Tale characters, dwarfs, dragons, her signature birds and a small cast of delightful fairies, all completed with needle felting, are all extensions of her love of soft sculpture.
“I wanted to learn wet felting but it was too much of a learning curve before this show, but its coming. I’ve done small projects and will explore it further,” she said.
“I’m still painting, still interested in collage but felting has really captured my imagination. I’m thinking masks, maybe landscapes.”
For the Love of Felt show is in the gallery for March and April, Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The show is sponsored by Quesnel Door Stop Ltd.