Interview with Elaine Peden

IMG_0022 (1)Elaine has been a member of Feltmakers ireland for 10 years now. She also exhibits her work with the Element 15 group. Elaine was kind enough to hold a Sunday session on her beading work earlier in the year at the Knockmaroon gate studio. She continues to be active with FI in a voluntary capacity- helping out at workshops etc.

We decided to ask Elaine a few questions about how she became involved in Felt and textiles.

Tell us a little about you as a person?

I work Three days a week as a nurse in TU Dublin the rest of my time is divided up with family friends and my work as a fibre Artist.

Using a needle and thread and stitching with beads comes naturally to me as I embroidered as a child; my mother made our cloths as small children, my grandmother knitted, sewed and in her 80’s started to paint.

My Gran started painting in her 80’s she was self-taught. She painted every day and watching her paint, her ‘oneness‘ immersed in her world of brush and paint, absorbed and content ,  influenced  my work as an artist. She went on to exhibit into her 90’s.


How and when did you start Felting… what is your experience, tell us a little about your journey?

Fifteen years ago while holidaying in the Jersey shore with my family I happened upon Manasquan bead gallery, l signed up for a series of classes with exceptional Bead artists, after emptying my wallet and stuffing my suitcase with glorious vintage and Japanese glass beads in various sizes and shapes I started my journey designing and beading neck pieces, choosing colours and designing patterns in my sleep.

As l don’t have a studio l mainly work from home , for larger projects l have used my dear friend Coleen’s studio and FMI studio .

I mostly work with strong felt making 3D sculptures.

My pieces take between 5- 6 hrs to make.  I have exhibited and sold my work at various craft fairs and taken private commissions.

My work is mainly process led l try not to control the process, I let it lead me. While l sometimes sketch and draw plans l mainly work intuitively.

10 yrs ago l spotted a friend packing her car with strange objects, bubble wrap, noodles, towels, intrigued about this l joined her on a trip to Lucan parish hall.

There l saw Maureen Cromer making a white cobweb scarf, the process immediately grabbed me. I was hooked. l filled my bag with fibre.

I became slightly obsessed with learning many felt making techniques. I started using fine merino wool from DHG. My 1st w/shop was with Lyda Rump, an amazing textile Artist making a complex felt bag with multiple resists using Icelandic wool which is one of the fastest and easiest fibres to felt.

I fell in love with strong felt, using multiple resists mounding and shaping the fibres after the fulling stage.

As my creative circle of friends grew my need to experiment with other mediums followed.

Fibre artist, Colleen Prendiville introduced me to stitch various mediums and processes. I joined Element 15 Fibre Arts group.

“Element 15” was originally Naas felt and fibre. The group explored and expanded over the years. We have exhibited in many venues including Carlow arts festival, the Blue Egg gallery, and last year a site specific exhibition at Castletown house.


Tell us about your process from conception to creation and what is your motivation?

My career as a nurse plays a role in my work. After doing a post grad in NUIM (‘Art in a health care setting’). I have worked with Alzheimer’s patients in  Brook lodge nursing home and other community projects. I have facilitated felt workshops in a health care setting and my work is about concentrating on the process rather than finished product, this enables creativity to blossom for participants.

I would like to expand on the therapeutic aspect of play, connection to self and others both in my personal work and working in groups.

FMI has organized incredible overseas tutors over the years , sharing ideas with exceptionally talented felting friends and colleagues sharing  methods, ‘mishaps’ and working through play in the studio, has been a very rich and creative experience which continues to shape my work.


What currently inspires you? What are you working on now?

I am currently researching poetry and text in preparation for Element 15’s next exhibition in Inniscara Gallery in Rathcoole. I will put  this work on hold for a few weeks as l am travelling to Finland in Jamsa to see my piece which was selected as part of the joint exhibition between “Filtti” and Feltmakers Ireland, for our international exhibition … exciting times ahead.

On behalf of Feltmakers Ireland, thank you Elaine for sharing your inspirational story of your life and work, we look forward to seeing your new artworks in your next exhibition.