Interview with Catherine Kaufman

12-Lee-Parkinson---Live-Magazines-Photography---Catherine---Sculpture-14Catherine Kaufman, sometimes affectionately known as the “Woolly Queen”. Feltmakers Ireland requested an interview ahead of seeing her work in this years Knit & Stitch at the RDS, Dublin.

Following on from her win at the Ribble Valley Craft Open Exhibition 2019, Catherine Kaufman was asked to exhibit her work at Olympia in London, and she is set to showcase her sculptures in Dublin as part of the Knit & Stitch show 7th-11th November this year.

Catherine grew up in a household full of art –her father was an antiques dealer and as a small child, she recalls her mother drawing beautiful elaborate pictures.

“Our home was filled with beautiful art and furniture – this greatly influenced me. My mother drew dancing ladies with crinolines for me which I loved.”

As a young girl Catherine always had a love of nature, imagining a world of fairy tales in the forests, countryside and riverbanks as she played near her childhood home.

“I remember that I always gravitated to the nature table at school, it was a magnet for me. I was always making and putting things together. I loved sand, playing with water and my favourite was fuzzy felt.

36-Lee-Parkinson---Live-Magazines-Photography---Catherine---Sculpture-38This was the start of things to come.

“I loved the smells of nature and the birdsong and noises. While among nature my imagination would be full of fairies and pixies and characters from stories I had read. It was all there, a rich tapestry just waiting to emerge.”

Attending a Catholic school in Altrincham, outside Manchester. Catherine left school at 16 but it wasn’t until she was living as a housewife in Rossendale, that she began to re-engage with her love of art.

“I began painting, I joined a local watercolour class, while bringing up my three children and I was asked to apply for a place at Blackburn University to study for a BA in Fine Art. At first, I thought it was crazy as I had no academic experience and I was a housewife with children! I wasn’t sure they had the right person to be honest!

“I made every possible excuse not to goas I was scared, but they kept pursuing meso eventually I decided to try it.”

Catherine went on to gain a first-class Fine Art degree in 2012 and is now one of the UK’s leading needle felt fibre artists.

39-Lee-Parkinson---Live-Magazines-Photography---Catherine---Sculpture-41

“Working as a felt fibre sculptor happened by chance. One morning I saw a lady who was demonstrating spinning and felting. I had never considered this medium before.

I asked her if she thought I could make sculptural figures with wool. She went onto teach me all the craft skills I needed to start creating my work.

That lady was Judith Beckett of the Wonder of Woollies and she became my guru and mentor. “Wool is now my love and being a fibre artist is my life.” says Catherine.

Catherine gleans inspiration from many things to create her beautiful life-size sculptures, as she explains: “It all starts with a thread of an idea. Where to start comes in many forms, I may find a figure whirling around in my subconscious – I often don’t really know who will surface so it’s very exciting!

“Then I get to work practically and physically, and the figure literally comes pouring out. It’s something that once I start, I don’t stop until its finished, so I never quite know how long it’s going to take or how I’m going to create it. It all happens naturally and organically during the creative process.”

Catherine admits that her creations are a reflection of her emotions. It is a way of working that suits my personality. I work for long periods with my pieces, so I can attach myself and immerse myself

completely into it. I find this very healing and comforting. The making process is so physical – it is very therapeutic and cathartic.”

Having chosen wool as her medium for her art, Catherine says it was important to her to select a material that is environmentally friendly and organic.

“In a world of synthetics there is no substitute for wool. Wool has a celestial symbolism that represents purity and truth.”

She sees her work as a ceaseless daily discipline: “It stems from my love of the making process, the physical repetitive act of making and assembling. I explore my own sense of self and that of the female narrative within the yarns.”

Her award-winning work showcased at the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show in London, was highly praised and she was delighted to be able exhibit there:  I was chosen to be an exhibiting textile artist there and was lucky to have a large stand where I displayed my collection of sculptural needle felt. The show was wonderful, and I have had a great response to my work, and I met some wonderful people.

I hope to raise awareness of the value of traditional crafts. This at the heart of what I do and if I can inspire young people to keep these ancient skills alive, then I have succeeded.”

You can see Catherine’s work at this year’s Knit & Stitch show in the RDS 7th-11th November… support your fellow felters- and get along!

Catherine Kaufman

Sunday Session 13th Oct 10:30am

october 19session

we hope to see many of you there… we will hear from participants of the recent workshop. Share ideas and cosy chat. Lets have a full house again. Tea/ Coffee and Buns as usual. Come along for an autumnal craft & chat.

Fibre sales available as usual and plenty of anticipation around the Knit & Stitch show also.

See you then! 10:30am Knockmarroon Gate Studio. Phoenix Park.

Sunday Session 13th Oct 10:30am

october 19session

we hope to see many of you there… we will hear from participants of the recent workshop. Share ideas and cosy chat. Lets have a full house again. Tea/ Coffee and Buns as usual. Come along for an autumnal craft & chat.

Fibre sales available as usual and plenty of anticipation around the Knit & Stitch show also.

See you then! 10:30am Knockmarroon Gate Studio. Phoenix Park.

CIFD and GANS Collaboration.

Report by Breda Fay- GANS rep (edited by Tamzen Lundy)

Breda Fay/ Michelle Kearns
GANS & CIFD collaboration

Since the beginning of April, some members from Felt makers Ireland have been working with designers from the fashion world on a collaborative project linking craft persons and designers.

Today – August 29th– was the culmination of our work, when our projects were modeled as part of the CIFD Fashion Show/ Media Day. The fashion show itself was amazing and one could only be inspired by the address and commentary of Eddie Shanahan, chair of CIFD, a truly enthusiastic and inspiring speaker.

For the last few months, Carmen Garcia, Niki Collier and Breda Fay have been engaging with our partner designers from the council of Irish fashion design. We had been randomly matched to “accentuate learning and ensure innovative engagement”.

I worked with Michelle Kearns, a milliner from Tuam.

Michelle and I shared stories of our likes and dislikes, dreams and history to come up with a theme for the design. We also discussed different textures and shades of felt. Samples and photographs went back and forth until we finally decided on a very fine and feathery black Merino and Silk with embellishments of cerise Tussah silk that Michelle would incorporate into a wire structure. The finished work would illustrate overcoming adversity (thick and gnarled branches) growing into more open structure with birds and blooms of hope and resilience.

In all, 15 pairs brought their projects to completion and the resulting hats, baskets, dresses, scarves, etc were amazing. The crafts of calligraphy, metal smith, lace making, felt making, basket making, crochet, textile art and embroidery were all represented.

Carmen Garcia's collaborative work
GANS & CIFD collaboration

This is the second year of the collaboration and I would urge members to watch the GANS page of the website and read the blog posts for notice of next year’s event, when we will once again advertise this opportunity. For those that managed to get along this year and became involved it was certainly and enriching and lasting experience.

See a word from Eddie in thanks below.

www.irishfashiondesigners.com

The below was received from the Council of Irish Fashion Designers

Ladies & Gentlemen,

On behalf of all of us in CIFD I wish to express our gratitude to you for the skill, inspiration, dedication and creativity you brought to our collaboration project.

It is not often that one of Ireland’s most eminent journalists declares an event as ‘Triumphant and emotional’ – but those were her first words at the end of our presentation on Thursday.

My colleagues and I have enjoyed the process, our respect and admiration for your skills is difficult to put into words. Design and Craft came together last week in an engaging evocation of Irish culture, proving beyond doubt that our heritage crafts can be extremely engaging in a contemporary context.

I hope you too enjoyed the project and the presentation.

I know Mary has exciting plans to give the work further exposure and I will also be seeking extra opportunities in the coming months.

We can expect some newspaper and magazine publicity in the coming weeks. In the meantime I am sending you a hi res image of your contribution by WeTranfer. I hope to have some video clips of the pieces in the next short while and will also forward those in due course.

I look forward to the possibility of working with you again in the near future.

Best regards,

Eddie

Magazine Archive

agriculture-animal-animal-photography-459215

 

Hi Folks,

We have donated our copies of Feltmakers Ireland Magazines to Nival in NCAD yesterday. NIVAL is the “National Irish Visual Arts Library”.

www.nival.ie

Renata the archivist was delighted to add FI to their files – magazines should be a great resource to students and researchers.

We are missing some copies and it would really be lovely to be able to find these and complete the archive.

The issue numbers missing are

1-23, 26-33, 36, 45, 51, any after 54?
The feltmakers Ireland committee would love to find copies of these magazines.
If you have a copy at home and are willing to part with it for the NIVAL archive at NCAD, please contact hello@feltmakersireland.com

Workshop: October 2019 Anna Gunnarsdottir: REMINDER

ANNA GUNNARSDOTTIR OCT 2019

 

Hi Folks,

We are so lucky to have a visiting international tutor booked for October 2019.

This is a 3 day course on 4th, 5th and 6th October with the talented Icelandic tutor, Anna Gunnarsdottir. The title of the course is “Sculptural Felt Making”. Anna is known for her large scale sculptural pieces.

The course is limited to 12participants, ensuring that everyone will receive attention. Existing members will be given priority in the event of over subscription. The closing date for application is 06.09.19 (after which in the event of oversubscription a draw will take place).  It will be first come first serve after this date- if not full already.

We hope that you are as excited as us about this opportunity and anticipate that this course will be filled quickly.

Application forms should be sent to:

workshop@feltmakersireland.com

You can read about Anna in the blog post interview we did earlier in the year.

Interview with Anna Gunnarsdottir

APPLICATION FORM ANNA GUNNARSDOTTIR

 

Interview with Valerie Wartelle.

Into-The-Drift-#2SS-VALERIE WARTELLELike many of our members I follow a few felt makers on Instagram and Facebook for inspiration. One Artist that caught my eye recently is Valerie Wartelle. When I saw in the spring that she was attending a Royal horticultural Show with an Artisan felt stand thus marrying my two loves of craft and plants I was inspired to make contact. I asked Valerie a few questions about herself and her practice.

Tell us a little about you as a person?

Brought up in France and French Polynesia, I enjoyed a loving childhood with my two siblings, French father and Scottish mother. My mother involved us from an early age in all kind of making, sewing and cooking. Therefore as a teenager you would have found me happily making my own clothes and involved in varied creative crafts.

Somehow predictably, on completion of my schooling, I left France to study in England – I attended an art foundation in Essex followed by a BSc Textile Design course at the University of Huddersfield (then Huddersfield Polytechnic) where I specialised in Knitwear.

Then followed a 10-year period working in Manchester as a knitwear designer. Whilst I loved it, I felt the need to bring my IT skills up to the 21st century and in 1999 returned to University to take a Masters in Interactive Multimedia Product Development- such joy to be learning again! Strangely I then worked for over 13 years for my Local Authority mainly with Elected Members, and barely touching a thread or knitting needle.

The-Hum-SS-VALERIE WARTELLE

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

I was introduced to needle felting during my studies, though I must admit never explored it further. It was not till many years later that a friend showed a few of us how to wet felt. I remember the event well – a rainy Autumnal Sunday afternoon and more specifically finding myself utterly spellbound by the wet felting process…

Move forward to 2012 when I finally tackled my first wet felting project, slowly reacquainting myself with my love of colours and textiles. I initially made design products, such as notebook covers, laptop covers, scarves; but it wasn’t long before my interest solely focussed on mark making, textures and colour.

I quickly realised I needed more time to dedicate to my new hobby, and resolved to compress my working week onto 4 days. I started showing pieces at local art events, received good feedback and in September 2014 decided to take the leap and establish myself as a full time artist.

I now have a studio near my home in Halifax in an old Mill – it’s a lovely space if a little dusty and unfinished, but has plenty of light, and critically some heating!

IMG_4164
Tell us about your process from conception to creation?

My inspiration comes mainly from the rural environment – sometimes from a collected object (pebble, fossil, and grasses), sometimes a photograph, and lately more often than not a drawing or sketch. Whatever triggers my interest, I draw on its colour, texture, form and light… curious about how to translate it using wet felting.

Understanding the craft and behaviour of materials is very important to me, but so is the manipulation of fibres as an expressive art form.  I love the properties of wool and I feel it lends itself well to the dramatic and moody landscapes we have here in Yorkshire. I start with a pre-felt, which equates to having a blank canvas, and I apply fibres in fine layers in a painterly way. I enjoy bringing in other elements (fabric, thread, printing…) to create depth and transparency within the composition. The analogy with painting is significant, making the viewing inquisitive and challenging people’s perception.

What currently inspires you?

Currently I am experimenting with working BIG… size and weight brings a new set of issues to have to resolve along with working flat, working wet and with shrinkage. However solving issues is to me intrinsic to the creative process – it is by seeking out solutions that I achieve small breakthrough. The organic and at times unpredictable response of the medium will keep me curious and engaged for some time to come.

 

Thank you Valerie for taking the time to respond. Your story is inspiring. Valerie plans to exhibit at the Knit & Stitch show, Dublin in 2020. You can find more information on workshops she runs and her work at her website below.

www.valeriewartelle.co.uk/news

Drifting-Thread VALERIE WARTELLE
VALERIE WARTELLE

We at felt makers Ireland plan to keep in touch and perhaps link up with Valerie to run a workshop in the future.

 

 

Workshop: October 2019 Anna Gunnarsdottir

ANNA GUNNARSDOTTIR OCT 2019

 

Hi Folks,

We are so lucky to have a visiting international tutor booked for October 2019.

This is a 3 day course on 4th, 5th and 6th October with the talented Icelandic tutor, Anna Gunnarsdottir. The title of the course is “Sculptural Felt Making”. Anna is known for her large scale sculptural pieces.

The course is limited to 12participants, ensuring that everyone will receive attention. Existing members will be given priority in the event of over subscription. The closing date for application is 06.09.19 (after which in the event of oversubscription a draw will take place).  It will be first come first serve after this date- if not full already.

We hope that you are as excited as us about this opportunity and anticipate that this course will be filled quickly.

Application forms should be sent to:

workshop@feltmakersireland.com

You can read about Anna in the blog post interview we did earlier in the year.

Interview with Anna Gunnarsdottir

APPLICATION FORM ANNA GUNNARSDOTTIR