Kinga Huszti is a Hungarian based felt maker. She has visited Ireland in the past to give tuition and we hope to host her again. We asked her to take part in this interview to help share her skills and inspire our members.
I hope this interview inspires you.
Tell us a little about you as a person?
I was lucky enough to grow up with four generations of my family in one household. Everybody was creative in some way. My Mum made amazing carnival costumes and was very inventive in her cooking, my stepfather wrote sheet music and painted pictures for our birthdays, and my grandmother the dressmaker was an exceptional person. I can hear the sound of it even today as she cut into the fabric with her huge tailor’s shears…
I watched her conjuring up elegant dresses in the dreary supply of the 1970s Hungarian fashion industry. My cousin and I played for hours with the old dresses and materials in her store which were waiting to be turned into something new. Grandma Julia had impeccable taste and I inherited the “less is more” motto from her.
I was also surrounded by books and was devoted to them. I decided to become a book conservator/restorer when I was twelve and so I did. I’ve also studied printing and typography.
How and when did you start Felting, what is your experience, tell us a little about your journey with felt?
Because of my disciplined profession and strict upbringing double-checking measures and being precise was in my veins. After my marriage and three sons I came into contact with felt making for the first time at the Hungarian Heritage House in 2001 and instantly fell in love with it. So much so that it has outshone every other work and by 2009 I got admitted to the Association of Hungarian Creative Artists and felt making has become my profession. Felt making allows me to become a child again and use both sides of my personality. The careless, playful me led by feelings and totally lost in what I am doing, next to the grown up me dominated by thoughts, consideration and facts.
From this early stage in felt making, hats had a special appeal for me. They are the objects I make most often (with matching bags and scarfs) because I enjoy how they can reveal the hidden beauty of their owners. I love to see how wearing a hat transforms the person and brings a smile to her face. In the design I concentrate on one aspect of the piece. I emphasize either the structure or materials/surface or the colours.
Making thin – very thin – felt comes naturally to me. Laying out the wool in this way is relaxing for me, like doing crosswords or knitting is for others. In case of summer hats, robes or scarves this is very rewarding as it allows for the felt to let more light through and drape attractively.
Beside felt making I enjoy teaching home and abroad. During summer I organize art holidays in the countryside in a very tranquil cul-de-sac village, easing the plunge into creation.
When in Budapest you are welcome to visit my studio.
Tell us about your process from conception to creation and what is your motivation?
I find a clean table very inspiring, just like a clear canvas for a painter. So first I empty the space I need and then I have the possibility to cover the table with a medley of many types and colours of materials and can simply start to play with them visualizing an object yet to be. It is seldom that I draw a plan, usually I just go ahead with what I have in mind. I’ve found wool a very yielding material and on the other hand one that I can trust. As with every handicraft you have to practice as only half of the knowledge is in your mind; the other half is in your hands, in your touch.
As I live in a large city, the capital Budapest, I like to surround myself with the harmonious creations of nature so as to make my studio a cosy, colourful and welcoming space. Three days out of five I arrive there with something in my hand picked up on the way: oddly shaped twigs, skeleton leaves and so on. As a result I have made bags, pendants, gloves and even a hat in the shape of a leaf during the years. If it is something that can not be moved what catches my attention then I take a photo.
Colours are also something that I register even without looking so to say. The combination of two colours – for example a plastic bag in the hand of someone “hanging” next to his coat on a bus – might stick in my mind without seeing the actual person carrying it.
What currently inspires you?
The past year was emotionally very intense for me with great joys and great sorrows. I try to give space to my soul when I am at my studio nowadays.
Felt makers Ireland hope to be hosting the Hungarian based felt maker Kinga for a bag making workshop later in 2019, so watch this space! Kinga is a master at her craft and it would be a wonderful opportunity for members to be able to share in her expertise.