5 Contemporary felt textile artists
Felting for art has had somewhat of a resurgence in recent years. Felt artists previously featured on TextileArtist.org like Andrea Graham and Molly Williams have proven just how exciting artwork primarily made from felt can be. In this article, we feature 5 more contemporary felt textile artists whose work highlights the versatility of this enduring material.
Mary-Ann Williams is often referred to as the “Queen of Felt,” and it is easy to see why. This artist creates astonishing works with the cleanest lines imaginable while using felt. Williams studied textiles in both her home country and in Germany and has been there ever since.
Williams’s felt acoustic wall panels are some of her most impressive works. These pieces take an entirely functional piece of wall decor and makes them the centerpiece of the room. These walls are sculptural in nature, drawing off such inspiration as origami and blades of grass. All of her wall panels are available in a multitude of colors, as well, so there is something for every home. A spectacular design produced by Williams is a chaise lounge that is entirely made from felt. No added fillers or padding were used to expand the chair, just interwoven felted wool.
Williams creates an astounding array of products, from laptop bags and apparel to wool felt greeting cards and cushions. Minimalism is a desired goal, but embellishments are used when necessary. The goal is to remove the waste, and Williams succeeds at this immensely. All of her work is made with the highest German design in mind, with a crispness rarely seen outside Europe.
To find out more about the work of Mary-Ann Williams visit www.illu-stration.com.
Janice Arnold, the daughter of a cartographer, has been interested in unique fabrics from a very young age. Based in Washington state, in the United States, she eventually fell in love with the storied history of felt-making, and attempts to blend the material with a 21st century aesthetic and mindset. She has honed her concepts of felt through travels and studies in Mongolia and elsewhere in Asia, where industrial felting is both an art and a necessity.
She has brought these concepts back to the US, where she created a site-specific yurt (a Central Asian portable tent, designed for nomadic use) in the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in 2009. In addition to this, she has exhibited an immense amount of versatility, designing costumes for the Los Angeles Opera and a recreational space for the offices of the advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy.
Her pieces exhibit a miraculous variety of textures, from silk through tough, durable wool. Her use of color is specifically impressive, showing what an absolute master Arnold is at designing and utilizing felt.
For more information about Janice Arnold visit www.jafelt.com.
Marjolein Dallinga is a Dutch textile artist who has lived in Canada since 1989. Always interested in found fabrics, she fell in love with the history and endless possibility that came with felting wool. Her work creates a new, mysterious world created in her imagination. These pieces emulate skin, formulating new creatures that could never exist in reality. Large, multi-colored spikes protrude from the ground, a tree, or a human. Her work is notably inspired by Andy Goldsworthy, taking brilliant colors and connecting them with the landscape in a way that startles the mind. She also claims to take inspiration from FLUXUS artist Joseph Beuys, which makes sense due to the expansive use of felt in his art.
Her work has been featured in the costumes and set design of Cirque du Soleil, and intense fashion and theatrical set design play a role in her designs. She creates many pieces of wearable art, playing with her concepts of grotesque, yet whimsical creatures, allowing the wearer to hide inside a world of fantasy and become something entirely new.
To find out more about A costume by textile artist and designer Marjolein Dallinga visit www.bloomfelt.com.
Joi Rae, also known as Jorie Johnson, is a fine art feltmaker who was born and raised in Boston, where she studied her craft and developed her design aesthetic at RISD. Her initial exposure to the art of feltmaking arrived in an intensive course in Finland, where she had gone to learn how to craft traditional Scandinavian felt boots. For the past 26 years, she has lived in Japan, and her designs are greatly influenced by Japanese culture. Her work is muted and calm, with a lyrical sense of motion derived from her adopted home. She has taught at an immensely broad array of institutions, as she takes each spring off from the studio solely to teach.
She produces mainly apparel and home decor, but has ventured into making felted jewelry. Her work is influenced from painterly sources, and it’s not hard to see the impact of calligraphy on her clothing. Johnson’s color use is distinctly derived from the earthly relations of her craft, with rich browns and greys dominating her pallette.
For more information about Jorie Johnson visit www.joirae.com.
Lisa Klakulak has lived all across the United States. She grew up outside of Detroit, and has since lived in Colorado, Taos, New Mexico, and Tennessee. She is currently based in Asheville, North Carolina. Klakulak finds a great amount of power in working with techniques and materials that have historically been the domain of women.
Klakulak’s work showcases design aesthetics that are indicative of North American indigenous cultures. She produces apparel, from gauntlets, scarves, and handbags, to sculptural works. Her felted rings and earrings are particularly interesting, ornate and exquisite. Her dye process uses only natural dyes, from submersion baths of barks, berries, flowers and other products used before the invention of synthetic dye. Her work espouses the nativist side of felting, and truly brings forth an American sensation that honors the heritage of indigenous American populations and the pioneers that settled the US.
To find out more about Lisa Klakulak visit www.strongfelt.com.
You might also be interested in:
- Needle felting: From factory to gallery
- 5 Sculpture artists using textile techniques
- Spotlight on 5 contemporary textile artists
- Textile artists inspired by nature
- Print textile artists
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