Friday, February 3, 2012

An Inspired Felter

At our January meeting, Carolyn Thiedke not only shared with us the lovely felted wall hanging she made for the 2011 Creche Festival at Mepkin Abbey, but she also followed the thread of her inspiration back through layers of remembered images and a progression of experiences with a range of felting techniques.
Carolyn's piece is 32" x 36" and depicts Mary and Joseph in silhouette, outlined in light from the full moon. The bare tree and the night gives the image a sense of stealth and night-time silence.

Several pieces were wet-felted to make the deep blue background.  The tree is a mix of fiber, thread and fabric, felted with a machine as well as a needle felting tool. Mary and Joseph and their shadows were needle-felted as were the white cloud wisps and the moonlight that outlines the figures.

Detail of Mary and Joseph
 Carolyn tried to trace back exactly how the idea came to her to create this particular image. The shadow cast on the street by tree limbs in the street light she sees on a regular early-morning bike ride was part of it. Pictures in favorite art and quilting books were also an influence though not necessarily a direct reference.

After the wall hanging was completed, Carolyn found a picture with very similar themes in a book she has looked at now and again over many years. Those ideas must have taken up residence in the back of her mind because they were expressed again in this piece albeit with Carolyn's own interpretation.

 An accomplished quilter and lifelong knitter, Carolyn said she felt like only a "dabbler" in felting but has enjoyed a progression of felting projects over the last few years.

First, intrigued by a "how-to" article in Martha Stewart Living magazine she bought a wool sweater at a thrift store and made a jazzy stuffed pig with a corkscrew tail.



Stuffed pig made from a felted sweater
 Then she knitted this pair of slippers and felted them in the washing machine.
She had fun with some quick needle-felted animals and she began to look more closely at books on felting. Carolyn said she is a bit surprised that she chose to felt the piece for the creche festival, but based on her sketches, it "just seemed right."
Detail of tree limbs and moon.
We had 25 people at this first meeting of 2012. Our year is off to a great start! Thanks to Carolyn for sharing her work and her process with us. It is fascinating to think of the crooked path our sources of inspiration travel to find their expression in our design, image, and color choices.

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