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Kristy from Portland, USA forged her artistic mettle apprenticing as a woodworker and upholsterer during her early twenties. Her work advances the sculptural capabilities of hand-made wool felt, drawing on woodworking to create complex joinery and sculptural forms in fibre.
Kristy has hand constructed frames and distinctive mountings for over thirteen years and this has meld her revelations into the structures she creates today. Kristy has tactile tendencies that make it difficult to keep her hands off wool and other textural materials. This is a real asset as a felt maker because the process of felting is accomplished as wool fibers respond to the warmth and agitation between the hands.
My life as a craftsman began in a woodshop, transforming reclaimed and historic wood into finely crafted furniture. The selection and processing of the wood, joinery, construction and finishing were a fulfilling pursuit for many years. The skills I developed during this period are reflected in my current work, eg the hand crafted frames, the upholstery methods used in mounting felt.
Kristy’s process for joining wool fibres and making dry connections before felting is unique to her, developed and inspired by the joinery used in the furniture she was building. About ten years ago she began the transition from wood to wool. The change in materials fostered a change in lifestyle, where she was able to work in a quieter environment with materials that require more gentle and personal attention, rather than tools and industrial equipment.
This allowed Kristy to work closer to home while raising her daughter and provided a studio environment that was a safer and friendlier place for visitors. She operated a handful of studios and businesses over these years, each becoming a treasured place to foster ideas, share materials and techniques, whilst hosting local and international instructors in a variety of arts and hand-crafts. Kristy has taken time to work slowly through her own ideas, learn from others, and develop a sustainable practice for her own felt making.
To continue my creative growth as an artist and exploration of techniques and materials, I participate in a unique artists’ retreat every summer, Frogwood. We are a group of roughly forty professional artists and makers who gather to work and live together for a week, sharing ideas and processes and creating outstanding works of art and craftsmanship. Through the collab, I return to my studio with fresh eyes and inspiration and my work is continually refreshed and evolving from the experience. I currently teach workshops from beginners to advanced focusing on techniques in sculptural felting.
‘’Teaching processes that I am using in my own work is incredibly rewarding as I continue to advance my own vision through conversation and observation with my students. I encourage my students to create outside of their comfortable boundaries and when they ask to push the work a little beyond the course curriculum I do my best to guide them. If they have proven an understanding and technical finesse with the craft, it’s productive to set them free to explore new possibilities of using the materials and techniques. It is at this point where we are all exploring together that I find most rewarding for teacher and student.’’
What do you enjoy most about your craft?
There are so many possibilities. Artists all over the world are creating incredible works in textiles and I am ever in awe of what I see. Additionally, the potential for combining textiles with other materials (wood, metal, found objects) really excite me.
What is your favourite fibre?
Merino Prefelt! I am especially in love with the 400g/metre product but also layer the lighter weights to build up to the thickness required for my sculptural work. By needling layers of the 150g weight with colorful silk fabrics, I can achieve some wonderful effects.
What is your favourite breed of sheep?
Navajo Churro. There is something beautifully wild and native about this sheep and it's wool. It felts very well and I especially enjoy to work with the fleeces where I can utilise the gorgeous straight, coarse locks. I work with a local woman to source wool from her flock and I'm sure that knowing the sheep is there reason they are my favourite.
What do you like the most about the company?
Incredible service and reliable, quality fibres. Whenever I have a question about a product or order, World of Wool replies quickly and with a genuine interest in my needs. Considering our time difference, this has always impressed me!
... And of course the fibres! They are always of consistent quality that I require for my work or to pass along to my customers and students.
Do you have a top tip for your fellow crafters?
Practice your techniques and try not to rush. I know that it can be hard but the best work takes time to perfect. I also suggest trying many disciplines and finding ways to bring the materials and techniques into your own work to create something original.
If you would like to view some of Kristy’s work you can do so in our gallery below. Current work and works in progress can also be seen on her website www.kristykun.com
If you would like to see all of our previous featured artists click here.
Ever since she was a young child, Joan has been pattern making and drawing. At the age of 6 she was drawing hand made cards for friends and family, and virtually every Christmas was an opportunity to get new pens, pencils and paper. Born to a Swiss mother and English father in Leamington Spa in 1966 Joan spent much of her childhood up until the age of 7 in Switzerland.
From landscapes to detailed floral wool paintings, Louise Hancox has blended her set of skills to produce stunning art pieces.
Creating needle felted, framed landscapes and seascapes from on and around Anglesey, Award Winning Helen Dolling is the superb artist behind Felt Inspired.
Specialising in hand dyed yarn and woven textiles, Salisbury based Emma Baker is a life-long knitter and the owner of SpireCrafts.