Interview with Yaroslava Troynich

YAROSLAVA TROYNICH

interview first published in dec 2019… yara will be leading an exclusive feltmakers ireland members only finger puppet online workshop on may 1st… limited to 30 places on a first come first served basis- this is filling up quickly. please submit your interest to FIONA- ADDRESS fmrleech@gmail.com

Felt makers Ireland follows several felt makers on Instagram to get our regular fix of inspiration. A member put us in touch with Yaroslava Troynich, a 41yr old Russian textile artist, based in Helsinki, Finland.  Her specialty is felted animal puppets. She says “this is fun textile way to worship wildlife” we decided to get in touch to find out more…

 Tell us a little about you as a person? e.g. upbringing/ where you work/ work other than textiles…

My life seems to me like a huge pile of wool, which I could transform into endless forms.

I was born in USSR and had no artistic background in my family. As a child I was fond of sewing textile toys and dreamed about art school and industrial design. The next big dream was to become a policeman to fight for justice and make the world better. However, the world itself captured all my attention so in the end I graduated from university as a journalist! For several years I have been traveling the world and contributing to Cosmopolitan and National Geographic in Russia and continued to write for local media after moving to Finland in 2007.

Most of all I loved to make stories about remote places, where wildlife, traditional lifestyles and crafts remain. The best moments of my life have mostly connected to wildlife – snorkeling with manta rays in Galapagos, planting rainforest for orangutans of Borneo or searching for the sloths in the Amazon.

Humans and wild nature cohabiting and environmental issues were always on my top interest list.

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

Once in 2009 I came across of artwork done by Stephanie Metz. Her meaningful sculptures made of white wool and some experimental textile pieces were shockingly modern, pure contemporary art.

In Russia felting is very traditional craft and to me it felt quite outdated. But this was the first moment I began to look at it differently. My inner artist woke up. I tried needle felting and was amazed of wool’s ability to take any shape. But I really fell in love with wool after my first wet felted piece. The feeling of soapy babbles on my hands and witnessing of wool fibers transformation into something totally new – this magic has forever bewitched me. Quite soon I realized that I want to work with 3D-felt. In my childhood I loved “bibabo”, traditional Russian hand puppets, with their history dated back to 17 century and originated in Italy and France. Ideas came fast and naturally. My first fox puppet was born, and it felt like a real gift from textile and craft gods. Surprisingly, combination of traditional felt with traditional toy turned in to very modern and unique art object. Suddenly everything came together: my love of puppets, of wildlife and of wool. That is the story of my own transformation into textile artist specialized in felted animal puppets.

My artwork is my small personal contribution to environmental awareness. These puppets are really great communication gadgets. They help to connect parents with children, create new stories and learn new things. They have strong social position – they support environmental education and promote love to animals. My special pride if they work with ecologists in the national parks and museums and with teachers and psychologists.

I have been learning a lot from great textile artists to develop my own skills, tried new areas of textile art but nothing makes me as happy as these animal puppets. Felting process itself has great art-therapeutic effect on me. So, I do share these benefits with others on my workshops around the world. I love to teach adults and transform them into artists and kids at least for a day. This transformation is no less amazing than wool metamorphoses. Sometimes I feel that it can be my real vocation to inspire people for creating via my puppets.

thumbnail_Bibabo_Puppets_3YAROSLAVA TROYNICH

Tell us about your process from conception to creation and what is your motivation? e.g. for hobby/ creativity/ art/ fashion/ health/ money…

My strongest motivation is a game with the world, special quest. I want to explore its secrets and search for opportunities to create new, positive and inspiring things.

Almost all my ideas I draw from the nature. Weird animals, beautiful animals, endangered animals. While visiting national parks I have chance to encounter wildlife closer. Even though I don’t follow physiological accuracy in my work, I study animals a lot, examine pictures, watch nature documentaries and read about their habitats and personal lives. I am minded in spirit of minimalism, restrained Scandinavian design and naive art, so I try to create live animalistic images using as little details as possible. But I also like to add some humor or bright travel and cultural heritage inspired details to my work. Especially, I feel free with my finger puppet collection. Some animals can wear Russian felted boots at some occasions and use the laptops at their homes. This kind of art makes me play all the time. I draw very poorly, so my rare sketches look like ugly construction schemes. More often I just have an idea inside my head and then test it directly on the wool. Complicated shapes I break into many simple forms and play with it. I combine different felting technics but my main one is wet felting. There are wool, soap, water and hands only. I use a lot of different fibers for creating animal hair, especially I love hairy goat mohair. I try to make my felt durable and flexible in the same time to keep the most of mobility for the toys. Sometimes my projects involve dyeing of materials and even painting on top of the wool toys.

It is weird, but 3D objects at first are just flat and in the beginning of my journey I was too depending on the patterns and constructive solutions but nowadays I become increasingly aware of limitless sculptural opportunities of felt. You can always change, reshape, improve. Felt makes me feel braver as an artist because in this process even apparent mistake can turn in to genius idea. Besides, it is difficult to make mistake with animals – they always come out wonderful. Probably, because they are born twice – at first from the idea and wool and then again become alive on top of the hand while playing.

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YAROSLAVA TROYNICH

What currently inspires you? 

Lately I am passionate about the animation to give my puppets even more life and voice. It is inspiring to integrate and collaborate different types of art and creativity in to the one beautifully felted structure. Well, and sponsors of all my ideas and inspiration invariably remain wildlife and life itself, with all that everyday routine and new changes. The coolest ideas come to me when traveling or hang out in the mountains, through the forest or along the cold ocean. The Amazon jungle and Himalayan snowy peaks are my eternal favorites.  But during my life in Finland, I fell in love with the north. Perhaps the northern animals are not the most vivid and expressive as objects for creativity, but the power of life in northern nature, with its short as a flash summer, is simply unique.  This power nourishes me. In Finland, people are very respectful to their nature resources, and this gives me the feeling that I am in the right place. After all, partly my work is pure nature worship, and toys are a tribute to the nature.

Thank you Yaroslava for taking the time to answer our questions for supplying the wonderful images of your work and for providing the dose of Instagram inspiration that we need. If you want to see more follow Yaroslava at the below.

Instagram

@yara_bibabo

#yaroslavatroynich

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YAROSLAVA TROYNICH

Felt in Arts Review Ireland? Woo Hoo

We are delighted to share that  our own Niki Collier ( link :https://www.facebook.com/nikicollierfelt/) solo exhibition has been reviewed in the portfolio section of Irish Arts review. winter edition. Her solo show Viruses runs from 5th Nov 20 – 22nd Jan 21 at University of Atypical (https://universityofatypical.org/gallery/)
Here is how Niki describes her fate as a virus veteran:

How did I get infatuated with the bugs?

The sculptures are the culmination of a conversation in wool which started for myself a decade ago and somehow to my overwhelming sadness brought the whole world to a standstill in 2020. The dichotomy between function and form in viruses is commonly our immediate response. How something so cute and small (in our eyes) could do so much damage to us. To Us?! To Humans?! Often when fear and darkness overwhelm us we ask the wrong questions, don’t we?

 My life experiences have made me ask a different question. 

Are we the measure to all? As humans we have the weakness to put ourselves in the centre of the universe. It is heart wrenching to try grasping the idea that more often than not we are part of the universe., an organism in nature, not the centre of it. So the bugs that are bugging us have brought me humility and their impact on my life- a constant reminder of this eye opening perspective to our self proclaimed hierarchy.

There were those who were unfamiliar with Niki’s life who expressed disgust in her practice. She hopes that this interview for RTE Culture File would make them hear her point of view (https://www.rte.ie/radio/radioplayer/html5/#/lyric/21872327)You can see a virtual tour of the exhibition, created by Niki’s 11 year old daughter Tanya here ( https://www.artsteps.com/view/5face75aad03cf068775e86d ).Make sure to leave a comment in support of Tanya’s effort.
Niki knows that things are tough so  is having a craft kits give away for those who need a sparkle of joy for Christmas.You can claim yours here (link https://www.nikicollier.com/christmas-craft-gift/)
niki socialInsta : @nikicollierfeltFB: @nikicollierfeltwww.nikicollier.com

Evie and Us- exhibition currently running

Exhibition of Felt Artists inspired by Evie Hone’s legacy.

Exhibtion currently running (until end Oct) at “The Constant Knitter”- Francis Street, Dublin, organised by Feltmakers Ireland Member Niki Collier:

The exhibition was by invitation and engaged with artists during the lockdown. Over Zoom we looked into Evie Hone’s work and created pieces in stained glass visual narrative. The exhibition is comprised of 10 artists in different stages of their career. It is a combination of stained glass technique and hats made as a homage to front line workers. Most of the work in the exhibition is developed through workshops with Niki over Zoom. Each artist Clodagh O’Connor, Paula Delaney, Deirdre Carey, Claire Tudor & Dorothy Ingram had done something created this year during the pressures of our changing lives. Additionally two established artists supported Niki by submitting two pieces for the exhibition. Niki is really grateful to artists Claire Merry and Helene Dooley for supporting the initiative with their pieces. And Niki put the piece she pushed herself to explore freehand machine embroidery on felt and a few hats.

Here are 4 of the Exhibiting Feltmakers:

Paula Delehny Sunrise

Paula has loved textile for a very long time. She has been doing felting, sewing and knitting for many years now.

She has embraced felting as a centre of her interest for several years and has travelled on Feltmakers Ireland trips to Hungary.

Her work was inspired by sunset and uses a combination of wet and needle felting technique to create the piece.

Helene Dooley

Evie Hone was a deeply religious person who principally created sacred art in
the latter part of her life. It is believed that her conversion to Catholicism in
1937 influenced her decision to work with stained glass. While not exclusively,
much of Evie’s work is associated with church settings.
Light and shadow reflections through stained glass were the inspiration for this
piece. The felted spiral is suspended and is in constant motion creating shadows
as the light hits it. The coloured viscose sections retain an element of mottling
and shine which seeks to mirror light in the style of light reflecting through
stained glass.

Clodagh O’Connor, has been inspired by Evie’s work on stained glass, but used fish images to explore its possibilities in felt.Clodagh has become a full time artist 3 years ago. Her work is multidisciplinary.


Deirdre Carey has used a trip to Spain for her inspiration. She has used a combination of wet felting and needle felting techniques.Deirdre has been taking feltmaking classes for several years and enjoys creating art pieces that are delicate and beautiful.

If you are in Dublin perhaps you can take a trip along- #supportthearts #supportlocal #supportingartists

Tamzen

Meet the Maker- Fiona Leech

Fiona joined the feltmakers Ireland committee earlier this year. Some of you may know her from her “Feltathome” handle on instagram or as a regular seller in Dublin markets- back in the day when that was a thing!

We asked Fiona to provide us with a little information about her piece “Touch”, submitted to the Endangered exhibition. Due to the change in space and location of the exhibition changing at such late notice we even had to display Fiona’s wonderful piece vertically! When really it should have been shown horizontally- it is 2m long!

Fiona was very obliging to let this happen. For those of you that did manage to visit the show in the Phoenix Park- here is how “touch” should really be viewed, and hopefully in the future we will get the chance to exhibit it again in a more spacious arena!

What inspired your piece submitted for “Endangered” and how was lockdown for you?

Before the lockdown,I was beginning to work on a totally different piece for this Endangered exhibition but quickly abandoned it as the impact of the rapid life changes soon diverted my focus.Glued to the news and watching with horror as our lives were suddenly ruled by daily numbers.On March 11th when the first life was lost to Covid 19, I stitched a small dark circle on a scrap of pre made felt. (I always saw the soul as a dark circle as a child!) I continued stitching one circle for every life lost and it soon became an evening ritual.The inability to touch,hug or even handshake had a huge impact on me and those around me.This piece evolved daily with no plan. I used dark and light scraps of previously made felt and ended up with 41 separate pieces of varying sizes (On April 20th the day that the state recorded its highest number of deaths of 77, I decided to stop) and felted a charcoal background to put it all together. The piece measured 2 meters in length, the required social distancing measurement so I added in that visual ( that we’re all so familiar with) in red stitching. Then added newspaper cutout words and red threads to connect the circles. This was to symbolise how that we are all connected somehow. We all know someone who’s been touched by this sadness.


I found that during the lockdown,I worked more than I ever have.Getting up at 6.30 every day to enjoy the quiet hours before everyone else got up.I was working on a large commission throughout the entire lockdown from design, sampling and 11 weeks of felting and stitching.It was a piece 2.3m x .5m and as I don’t have a designated studio, I needed the kitchen table, hence the early start.The bright mornings helped too!.The piece was very detailed and based on the clients love of maths, physics, Star Wars, astronomy, Doctor Who and cycling!.All handstitched.It’s finished now and hanging in it’s new home in London.Having a routine and a focus allowed me the few hours to forget all that was going on and out of my control.Working on the endangered piece was also very cathartic for me. I think it kept me grounded.I’m not sure if that’ll last as the kids go back to school.

HAND CRAFTED FELT ARTWORKwww.feltathome.ie

Meet the Maker- Endangered -Yling Khaw

Yling Khaw, felt artist

The Endangered Exhibition drew in new members to Feltmakers Ireland, to whom we welcome. Yling submitted a wonderful piece of work entitled “Clouded Leopard”. We asked her 3 questions about her work in response to the Exhibition title.

The Exhibition title- Endangered?- how does your piece respond to the title? your inspiration and methods etc
The tropical rainforest has been a lifelong love of mine even though I have lived in Ireland for the past 20 years. I grew up playing in streams, and had spent practically every weekend and holiday in the forest. My main interest is macrophotography of insects. 
Unparalleled diversity: A square kilometre of rainforest contains several thousand species; absolutely mind-boggling. Immersing oneself in it is a humbling experience.Not only is the rainforest disappearing fast, it is nearing an irreversible tipping point beyond which it can no longer sustain itself.The loss of such a magnitude of living beings is heart-breaking. I bear witness.
I chose the Clouded Leopard because it is native to my birth country and its survival depends on presence of primary (pristine) rainforest. It is an elusive, beautiful cat, well known for it’s tree-climbing skills. 
I am grateful to Endangered Exhibition for raising awareness of our planet’s collapsing ecosystem. I take this opportunity to challenge the viewer to look him in the eye and say one does not care.
Feel the heart break and take action. 



Method: Needle felted merino roving on 100% wool felt sheet.Photo credit: Wikimedia commons.

Crafting through the current crisis, with the pandemic have you found more or less time to craft, has it inspired you or have you found it more difficult- discuss
For me, the crisis meant a combination of maternity leave and lockdown with two young kids. I felted a little every evening. Felting has helped me maintain my sense of self. 

Felt- how you discovered it, what it means to you
I was looking for a craft that looked attractive, yet flexible and forgiving. Needle felting is also very exciting due to the endless possibilities! Even better, it is a natural compostable material!

In January 2020, I got a box of needles, felt, core wool, 40 colours of dyed Merino and embarked on my felting journey. This art form is as fun as it is therapeutic. 

We thank Yi ling for her participation in this event and congratulate her on the quality of her work, especially as she is so new to the craft and has managed to jugle so much through lockdown! We look forward and anticipate seeing more from this artist.

Meet the Maker- Interview with Claire Merry

piblicity poster- created by Tamzen Lundy, featuring the work of Claire Merry.

Its been a strange and in many ways a sad year. In January when Feltmakers ireland launched the “Endangered- lost there felt here” exhibition title, we did not know and could never have imagined how changed our world would become in 2020.

A global pandemic that might endanger human life and our very understanding of how we live would evolve. Covid- 19, coronavirus, socially distant, bubbles, pods and zoom all entered our vocabulary. We became news addicts, home schoolers, front liners, essential, non-essential, unemployed.

We have had to pivot the way we work, change the way we socialise and adapt the way we think. But as Charles Darwin put it- “its not the strongest of the species that survives, but the one most adaptable to change.”

Here at Feltmakers Ireland we mourned not seeing our members and friends face to face at Sunday sessions. We tackled zoom like the best of them and have held all our committee meetings remotely.

We’ve had had to cancel the best laid plans- two workshops with international tutors travelling from Canada and Australia ( postponed) and we have had to “pivot” so much that it’s left us dizzy!

We wanted to press ahead with our exhibition plans, now more that ever the title “endangered” seemed to resonate. We had 20 wonderful entries, from dedicated craft maker, artists. Our judges have told us that the quality made their jobs very difficult indeed.

The committee decided that because of the efforts of the artists and the quality of the work received as well as a motivator to the rest of us, we would like to show you all the pieces submitted-  in an online way.

We reached out to the member makers and asked 3 standard interview questions. We hope that the work and the artists answers inspire you to keep crafting through the crisis.

Interview 1- artist CLAIRE MERRY, whose piece entitled “tree hugger” was chosen for our publicity poster, above.

claire Merry- Tree Hugger, entry to “Endangered Exhibition 2020”

The Exhibition title “Endangered”- how does your piece respond to the title? What was your inspiration and the methods you use?

I entered two pieces to the exhibition- the first, “ Tree Hugger”- €750

These tail-less amphibians are wonderfully diverse many with fantastic colouring. Sadly many find themselves in an increasingly inhospitable world. Large numbers are listed as ‘critically endangered’. If we could all hug a tree and embrace the endangered habitats. We and the world would reap the reward.

The making of this piece-I have started playing around with mosaics recently. It’s possible to see the influence in this piece. I used prefelt to imitate tiles. 

My second piece- “BEAUTIFUL SUNSET OR DEADLY FIRE”- €850. 

The impact of the fires in Australia profoundly affected me. The loss of life, human and animal, habitats destroyed, homes and land devastated. The really sad news emerged that 85% of fires were triggered by human activity including arson as well ascarelessness and recklessness. 

I thought, wouldn’t it be lovely, if we could turn everything around and celebrate a beautiful sunset and the life of of the ecosystem living there. 

I spend a lot of time laying the fibres. Then I am up and down a ladder in order to view the piece as it’s growing. I love adding prefelt to drop in colour. 

Crafting through the current crisis, with the pandemic have you found more or less time to craft, has it inspired you or have you found it more difficult?

During lockdown it was great to have crafts to divert my attention 

from the terrible news that was emerging. I was lucky to have supplies.For a craft person they are as critical as the sliced pan and loo rolls.  

It wasn’t always easy to get down to work but once I did I could ignore the news and live in my head. 

Felt- how you discovered it, what it means to you?

I describe myself as a craft butterfly. Over the years I have been involved in so many areas. Textile, jewellery, ceramics and felt. I first came across felt at Bloom in 2008 when I saw a demonstration by Feltmakers, it really captured me. I love colour and find felt is a perfect medium for it. The versatility of felt means that there is always something new to discover. 

I have had fun with 3d, needle felting and clothing. I find working on a submission stretches me and makes me try something new. 

You can see more of Claires work at www.merryland.ie

Sunday session- Tamzen Lundy 9th Feb

A discussion and hands on demo about the basics- of feltmaking. Good skills to learn or recap- laying out fibre… different ways to make bobbles and small attachments.

Following my 100 days of feltmaking experiment in 2019, I share some of the very basics that I learnt along the way but that helped give such exciting and experimental shapes!

Snapshot :100days of felting by tamzen

Feb 9th session

ENDANGERED, exhibition 2020

We are delighted to announce that Feltmakers Ireland will have an opportunity to exhibit in a gallery space at the RDS, as part of the knit and stitch show in Nov 2020!

Current 2020 members will be eligible and invited to enter.

Watch this space for more details to follow over the coming months.

The title is ” Endangered: lost there , felt here”… inspiration can come from many sources, the environment, our changing society, heritage or culture.

Keep in touch, we promise more details and the application form in February.

Renew your membership to be eligible. A wonderful chance to show your work and skill in a very prominent location!

Good luck.

Interview with Fiona Leech

Chance-something red
Fiona Leech

Fiona leech is a member of Felt makers Ireland. You may recognise the piece above as it was chosen by Filtti Finland to represent the Irish submissions for the “Something Red” exhibition brochure and flyers during the summer of 2019.

I started following Fiona on Instagram last year as we both undertook the #100daysproject. This is a free project that anyone can enter with the hashtag 100days. Creatives of all disciplines commit to undertake (as the name implies) 100 days of doing something, it might be painting, poetry, photography or journaling and the Instagram community supports you; Through sharing posts and following.

Fiona works under the name @feltathome and I know that I am looking forwarding to seeing more of her work in 2020.

fiona leech

Tell us a little about you as a person?

I am a sixties child, born in Dublin and a mother of three. I finished school and went to college in the mid-eighties – and yes, I had the dubious hairstyles too! I studied design at what is now D.I.T. specialising in theatre set and costume design. I worked as a freelance theatre designer, occasionally dabbling in scenic art from the early nineties until around 2009.

I’ve always had a passion for textiles; knitting, crocheting and sewing from a very young age. I was taught by both my grandmothers and was loved by the nuns for my enthusiasm! My father was an architect and came from a family of amateur artists. My parents were singers too, but I definitely did not inherit that particular talent! A weird fact about me is that I get tingly sensations when I see colour and texture and can’t visit a wool shop without touching all the yarns! (Probably too much information!!)

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

During my time as a design tutor at Ballyfermot College of Further Education I was constantly drawn to the textile studio and was very envious of the students. So, a couple of years after my third child was born, I stopped working in theatre and began exploring other options that would allow me to create work while being at home. I had experience of working with many different materials during my years in theatre; from timber, metal, clay, fibreglass, plaster to name but a few. I even did a bit of brick laying on set once, but it was always the textiles that I loved working with, and I tried to incorporate textiles into my designs as often as I could. I harboured an ambitious dream to knit a theatre set one day but never found the right director to indulge me! I started to doodle in notebooks, collage, paint and stitch but it wasn’t until I took myself off on a basic felt making course, given to me as a mother’s day treat, that I became really excited about so many new possibilities opening up to me. I could now make my own textured blank canvases. That was about 10 years ago and have been slowly finding my feet since with this versatile new medium.

fiona leech

Tell us about your process from conception to creation

Coming from a disciplined design background, my work is mostly abstract. Quite measured. Simple with clean lines, using stitching as a drawing tool, rather like my ink pen that I used to do technical drawings with. I premake the felt that I use in batches and then chop it up, layer and stitch. Hand stitching is an integral part of my work as I like the control that I can achieve by slow stitching. The varying nature of the handmade felt background determines the unique look of each piece. I mostly make wall hangings and framed pieces.

Photography plays a large part in my creative process; I draw inspiration from the thousands of photos that I take. I love the details, the minutiae of everything from the mundane to the miracles of nature. Colour is also hugely important to me.

fiona leech 100 days

I recently took part in an online 100-day challenge to create a piece of art every day for 100 days. I’m no stranger to working within parameters, such as working with scripts, spaces and budgets so I set myself a strict brief. With the theme ‘circles and lines’ I could only use felt and threads on 10 x 10 cm felt squares. The objective was to help with intuitive creativity and force me to focus. I found the speed with which I had to work exhilarating and created something different every day. Some I love, some not so much but that’s part of the process. The project evolved in a way that I never expected. It was restrictive and challenging but hugely constructive. I’ve ended up with 100 small abstract pieces that stand alone but also work as a large tapestry of felt mosaic tiles. I now have the task of joining them all together.

Perhaps the most thrilling event of last year for me was being invited to be part of the

Felt makers ‘Something Red’ exhibition in Finland. It was exciting as I’d never exhibited anything before, and I felt honoured to have been included. Being part of the Felt makers Ireland community has opened my eyes to the amazingly talented women working with felt in such diverse ways. It’s truly inspiring and I’m looking forward to being more involved in the future.

What currently inspires you?  

I am a fan of textile installation art. The work of Sheila Hicks and Shiota Chiharu really inspire me. I see it as the perfect union of texture and theatre. I love the drama of large scale works that take your breath away. I would jump at the chance to work on such a large scale if an opportunity ever arose. But for the moment I’ll concentrate on my next venture. A simpler brief I think…..

 

Felt makers Ireland would like to thank Fiona for taking the time to answer our interview questions and supplying the wonderful images of her work.

You can follow Fiona’s work on Instagram

@feltathome, she often also sells at @dublin8craftmarket and in Stoney Batter

fiona leech