TEXT: SYLVIA BRESTEL
My fiber art is an evolving symbolic communication that strives to transcend cultural or historical boundaries. It is a direct result of my experiences and education with a strong reliance on my intuition and senses. My pieces are greatly influenced by nature’s textures, especially bird feathers, trees, and other natural organic materials. I am honored to carry on a craft that has an 8,000 year old history.
I create distinctive, elegant silk and wool wearable art, sculptures, accessories, and wall art. My original designs are hand dyed, hand painted, shibori, and nuno felted. Surface design, textured work, and sculptural qualities of wool appeal strongly to me. I incorporate many other techniques in my work including crochet, embroidery, hand and machine sewing, wool drawing, thread painting, wire wrapping, wet felting, and needle felting.
Striving for a natural, handmade appearance to my work while maintaining consistent high quality craftsmanship, my process often begins with creating the fabric by hand felting using various wools. I frequently work with wool and silk and may add other organic fibers as well as synthetic fibers. I may incorporate additional textures during the felting process such as yarn, tencel, silk, threads, etc. Sometimes, instead of beginning with a wool base, I may choose to begin with silk chiffon or silk habotai and use a nuno felting technique.
The process of felting is rather lengthy and physically demanding as it involves alternately rolling, rubbing down the fibers, inspecting work, forming edges, and making any necessary changes during wet felting. Once satisfied the fibers are fully integrated, I “throw” the felt against the table several times to further help the fibers to bond and compress to become a solid piece of fabric.
After the fabric base has been created, I may manipulate the cloth either by hand sewing, binding, and/or wrapping. I enjoy different ways of dyeing the fabric often by hand painting and dye immersion. The final stages of felting involve several rinses and a soak in vinegar water solution to balance the pH, hold color dye, and remove any residual soap. If I haven’t dyed the wool, the fiber is ready to dye and bind at this point and then it will be steamed to set the colors. The piece is then set out to air dry thoroughly.
I enjoy surface design and add as the piece calls for it. Additional embellishments to my felted work may include hand sewing, hand painting, beading, embroidery, and manipulating the fabric to create a textured surface. I also might add various combinations of silk yarns and threads, tinsel, lace, wood or glass beads, sequins, lampwork buttons, ceramic, or handcrafted wood buttons.
For more information visit www.feltedfeather.cm.