Marie Spaulding is more than just the founder of the Austin-based Living Felt, she is a facilitator whose work, “…is to help others love themselves more, and live more fully by accessing and appreciating their own unique expressions. One of the greatest ways we ‘express’ and one of the most fulfilling ways to receive is to give from the heart.” And that’s what Spaulding did when she created Peace Felt, an organization that creates connections among people by promoting love and peace through textile art.
Peace Felt came to Spaulding after spending months on a spiritual quest, and asking for guidance of how she could be of service to Love, to the Good, and a higher entity that would engage her interests and skills to serve mankind. The response sparked the idea of forming Peace Felt, or Peace Felt Around the World, which celebrates the International Day of Peace as recognized by the United Nations.
International Day of Peace was first established in 1981 by resolution 36/67 of the United Nations General Assembly to coincide with its opening session in September. In 2001, the resolution 55/282 was strengthened to fix the date annually and have it fall every September 21st as a day of nonviolence and cease-fire. Spaulding explains, “Peace Felt supports my belief that we receive what we give, we experience what we focus on and think about—connecting people through love and peace through a medium of artistic creation, in this case making felt.”
Before launching Peace Felt, Spaulding always loved working with natural fibers, but when she first started to work with felt it was, “Love at first felt.” Working with wool helped Spaulding overcome her inhibitions and challenges with sculpture, particularly working with clay. With wool, she quickly learned it could be sculpted and she jumped at the opportunity to reinterpret her drawings, which tended to be whimsical and explosively colorful, with felting. She discovered through the ease of learning how to felt and its versatility, the endless decorative pieces that could be created. “I find that many people who feel they are not creative or don’t have enough crafting experience can enjoy instant rewards with felting. Felting caters to all styles of art from crafty, to crunchy, to chic.”
Unlike other events that focus on a theme—such as FeltUnited’s* using a specific color for a particular year--Peace Felt’s only requirement is for textile artists to share their own personal interpretation of peace. “Since the idea is to call forth unconditional loving, kindness, and unity within the individual—then transfer that to their artwork the concept is enough to do its job,” Spaulding explained.
Other activities planned include a traveling showcase of hearts that would be showcased at hospitals, hospices, orphanages, churches, fiber shops, and schools that would carry the Spaulding message of pure unconditional love and support the human spirit. The concept came to fruition when Spaulding had a vision 10,000 hand-made hearts traveling across the country and offering their good will. The hearts would be made from the artists’ preferred medium and they would be attached to four foot lengths of wood to display. Serendipitously, a few days after Spaulding wrote down her thoughts about this new project, she was contacted by the Hera Arts Group in the United Kingdom that had created felt hearts hanging from dowels. “It was incredibly close to the pictures in my mind. The heart project would take more organization, and it would involve us receiving the hearts here, assembling them, and sending them back out. So I am giving this careful thought before watching the post lady inundating us with hearts and that are eager to get back on the and do their work!”
Although it is one day out of the year that’s dedicated to non-violence and a cease-fire among warring nations, Spaulding takes to heart that peace starts within ourselves. Her message to everyone through Peace First is about tapping into the unique abilities, passions, and strengths we all possess and sharing them with one another. “I believe we achieve that by acting on our inspired ideas, by being and expressing our unique selves, and by following our joy. This divine universe needs diversity, not sameness—so go forth and live! Because no one else can do it for you. You are loved and needed.”