International Meeting of Felt Makers Associations.

agriculture-animal-animal-photography-459215An update on the work of the Felt makers Ireland committee in Autumn of 2019. In mid-October of last year, a meeting was held in Mouzon France at the felt museum of Mouzon and the International Felt makers Association invited board members of felt organizations of different countries and relevant felt makers of countries without association to the first International network meeting.

Felt makers Ireland sent along our secretary Sinead Doyle to attend and here is her report together with the official report of the event.

The committee has held a meeting since the visit in Nov 2019 and intends using this information at a special “Strategy 2020” meeting this month. We just want to keep you our members and followers up to date with the work going on behind the scenes in Felt makers Ireland.

mouzon meeting international feltmakers
Sinead Doyle- Black dungarees RHS, feel free to speak to Sinead at our Sunday sessions!

Meeting Venue

Musée – Atelier Du Feutre

Mouzon, France

11th – 13th October 2019.

The weekend kicked off with a 2-minute introduction from each attendee. I have not included every associations presentation but following is a synopsis of a few.

Participants meeting Mouzon
Norway:

40 members, membership is €150 per year. This association accepts members on an evaluation basis. All members must submit their work, once accepted you receive a guild mark of excellence. They meet once a year at the AGM and organise a yearly trip to other countries to take part in various workshops. They have expressed an interest in coming to Ireland in 2021.

Netherlands:

They have over 1000 members. This organisation is divided up into regions that hold their own meetings throughout the year at varying intervals.

IFA:

This association has over 1000 members, however approximately 900 reside in the UK.

They host an AGM on 9th May in London.

The IFA are currently seeking a petition to have the craft of Felting deemed a UNESCO cultural Heritage of Humanity.

They will be sending out a call in December to all their members for an England based exhibition in 2020.

This association is split into regions with a regional officer who organises meetings and workshops. I spoke with Mandy Nash the Regional officer for Wales. She told me that she has her region broken down further into more localised groups. She accomplished this by facilitating the local set up of groups but has no ongoing operational input.

These groups are self-funded however the IFA personal liability insurance extends to cover all members.

Mandy arranges 5 meetings per year where members can come together to work on their own projects and share information.

Conclusion:

It appears most organisations do not meet up that regularly as distance/travel is a huge obstacle. The AGM seems to be the only time members will come together in most of the groups. They host at least one International workshop per year and focus on travelling to others.

 

Workshop #1

Quality in Felt making

This discussion began with the term

“Ancient craft – Contemporary textile”

We focused on ways to set standards and how to elevate felt as a textile in the consumer’s eye.

The IFAs agenda is to standardise felt making techniques for beginners. They have asked all organisations to develop and run detailed beginner workshops for members. Emphasising the importance of creating samples at the start of every workshop, to teach how to calculate weight and shrinkage, and to understand how different wools behave and interact.

They would also like standardised criteria/guidelines to be set for Tutors.

This workshop was then split up into three small groups each concentrating on one of the following topics.

 

  1. I.   Accreditation
  2. II.  Guidelines for Tutors.

III. Good practice for members. (my group)

Accreditation:

The German organisation has established a Quality mark. 

They conduct four evaluations a year. The fee is €50 (members) €90 (non-members).

Should the artist fail the evaluation they are given a full report as to why, and how they could improve their work with an invitation to apply again, free of charge.

Should they be awarded the accreditation, they are then given a label they can tag all their products with.

This is a recognised sign of excellence in Germany. It has greatly increased the amount of professional felt makers in the country and has also aided in the awareness of quality felt making.

*It was thought that every association should begin the process of establishing an accreditation system in their own country.

Guidelines for Tutors:

They discussed the importance of establishing excellence in teaching. Discouraging people who take masterclasses from going on and teaching poor quality classes when they really haven’t mastered the correct technique.

*No set guidelines were established but this is something each organization should actively work on.

The IFA are compiling a list of “recommended” tutors. They are in the process of setting criteria and categorising those tutors who fit the bill.

Good practice for Members:

“Encourage properly and well-made felt which is fit for purpose.” – Many Nash.

We discussed encouraging members to develop their own personal style and not regurgitate masterclass techniques.

It is thought that work completed in Master Classes should not be accepted into exhibitions, selectors need to be very strict about this. Also, that when masterclass techniques are used in a person’s work the Master should be acknowledged.

We also talked about encouraging our members to take part in regular regional sessions to develop personal skills and share techniques. Promoting members to develop their own style.

Workshop #2

Networking and Synergy

 

  1. I.   What do we expect?
  2. II.  How to stimulate synergy. (my group) 

III. What would change for our members?

We talked together about what we expect to get from this meeting and how it will help us all.

The exchange of information on how we run our organisations and how we communicate with our members will be invaluable to everyone. The meeting is also about inspiring each other and bringing felt to a wider audience. We then broke into two smaller groups and discussed the other topics.
How to stimulate synergy

Fostering personal relationships will make it easier when we need to contact each other on a professional basis.

There was talk about how some organisations make international tutors sign a contract agreeing that they will not teach anywhere else in Europe in the same year. We must make sure this is prevented from happening in our own association, and instead push for more cooperation and cost sharing between groups when organising workshops.

It was decided that a Facebook group would be set up for all those attending the meeting, this would encourage good relationships to grow and keep the flow of information between us all. The IFA International officer Henny will arrange this

Each organisation is asked to prepare a small one-minute video about their association to be put up as an introduction to the group.

We can also use this platform to share information regarding wool related festivals and happenings in our countries maybe enticing people to visit from other countries.
The other important decision that came out of this group was that an International gathering would be undertaken every two years, with a different country hosting each time. The IFA will set this in motion. 

What would change for our members?

These meetings give us a chance to share information, which we can offer to our members. It is up to them what they do with that, however we should repeat the message of connection on an international level.

Putting a spotlight on what other organisations are doing and letting our members know of international events.

I’m not sure what else this subgroup discussed this was the extent of what they told the main group.

The other two workshops I was not involved with gave a brief account of their discussion, as follows.

Education

There is no official course for felt makers in the education system.

We need to have an approach to introduce felt to textile schools and art colleges.

It may be of interest to find speakers from Industry where wool/felt is used in unusual or surprising ways.

We need to network/collaborate with other textile organisations in order to keep felting on the map.

My thoughts on this is that our organisation is too small to go down this road as we have no education officer, but it is certainly something to work towards for the future.

Exhibition

An international exhibition has been set to run from April 2022 to April 2023,

The theme “building bridges”.

Over the course of the year separate local exhibitions in every country will take place with an accompanying online exhibit running alongside.

Culminating in a final exhibit, in France, with pieces selected from each country.

The IFA exhibition officer Laura Mabbutt will be the lead on this event and will be in contact.

2019_10_Summary of International network meeting in Mouzon

The above is the link to the official report of the event.

The Felt makers Ireland committee thanks Sinead for giving her personal time to attend the meeting. We also thank Henny Van Tussenbroek for the invite to participate and look forward to renewed contact with other international organisation. We endeavour to keep our members informed of these ongoing relationships. We will be using this information as the basis of our Strategy 2020 together with our own regional findings.

 

 

Review and Resolutions

As we end 2019 and look forward to the New Year and indeed the new decade we often look back at our achievements of the past or sometimes our regrets. It is that time of year, when traditionally we make New years resolutions and plan to turn over new leaves.

Of course, we all know deep down that if it’s worth doing, it’s probably worth doing today, rather than waiting until January 1st!

I’m not actually one for New Year Resolutions, I’ve never managed to keep any and I feel it puts too much pressure on myself- which is one resolution I would like to keep ( less pressure). It is almost like, I’m planning to fail!

However, I am one for habit and do believe firmly that “it’s what you do, not what you say you will do” that makes who you are. Habits can start in a very small way… For example, you don’t need to think 100 days ahead, and feel the pressure of say “100 days of walking”. You could simply choose to walk today. Tomorrow, repeat the same. Do and repeat.

At the end of this Crafting year I’m posting the “Motivation Mondays” of 2019… which many of you will know from our Facebook Page. Some of these quotes will resonate with you and some you will disagree with. Perhaps you have a favourite or a quote you simply “don’t get”. I do hope however that of the 52 there will be something that you can respond too. Perhaps there is saying that motivates you and something that reminds you to be true to who you are.

The future is full of possibilities and it starts today. Have a good one.

Interview with Yaroslava Troynich

YAROSLAVA TROYNICHFelt 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.

il_570xN.762203968_7y1s
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

 

VPP_7219
YAROSLAVA TROYNICH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Sunday Session

dec 19 session

The Next Sunday session will be a very casual affair… mince pies and coffee and some relaxing hands on felting… maybe make a christmas decoration… as regular members advice on projects… bring along some things you are making and show us… A crafty little day time get together away from the Hubbub and hoobala of the Xmas rush.

 

SLOW DOWN this year, have a chat and a coffee… make something, watch….

Everyone is welcome ( members/ non members/ past /present and future).

 

Christmas Sunday Session

dec 19 session

The Next Sunday session will be a very casual affair… mince pies and coffee and some relaxing hands on felting… maybe make a christmas decoration… as regular members advice on projects… bring along some things you are making and show us… A crafty little day time get together away from the Hubbub and hoobala of the Xmas rush.

 

SLOW DOWN this year, have a chat and a coffee… make something, watch….

Everyone is welcome ( members/ non members/ past /present and future).

 

Fashion, made in Monaghan

MODE_Designer_GFL_1 (1)

made- in- monaghan

A unique “MODE – Made in Monaghan Designer Showcase”  will  mark the end of our Very Successful 2019 Programme

This showcase extravaganza will provide an excellent opportunity for our many talented designers to display their creative collections to other women in business and a wider audience.

Monaghan Designers being showcased on the evening will include:

The event, which will be expertly hosted by Maria Macklin, House of Colour, will include a range of refreshments and we will end  the evening with some excellent live musical entertainment provided by very talented Dara MacGabhann and Andy Hogg, aka “The Two Five Ones”.

Details of the event are:

Venue:          Westenra Arms Hotel, The Diamond, Monaghan
Date:            Wednesday 27th November 2019
Time:            7.30pm
Admission:  €15 including refreshments and entertainment

We are really looking forward to hosting this unique event which will provide our gifted designers with an excellent promotional opportunity and will provide you with an informative, enjoyable evening out – and inspiration and ideas for supporting local businesses and buying local for the festive season and in the years to come!

Please book early to avoid disappointment.   We have a limited number of places available and they really will sell out very very quickly.  The booking link is here.  Click on it now to grab your place!

Larissa is one of our members and will be presenting the first Sunday Session of 2020 at the knockmarroon Gate studio- on different breeds of fleece and their specific uses in feltmaking!… the date for your 2020 calender is 12/01/2020

MODE_Designer_GFL_3 (1)

MODE_Designer_GFL_2 (1)

Sunday Session Nov 10th

nov 19 session

NEWS UPDATE:

Sunday session on Nov 10th will be held as usual at Knockmarron Gate Studio 10:30am, all welcome to attend. Clodagh will give a talk on Japanese textiles and show some of her own dye work. She is asking members to bring along any examples of their own Japanese textiles. Perhaps you have travelled there for the Rugby or plan to go next year for the Olympics? Japan is on trend in fashion too for 2020.

Please bring any examples you have of Kimonos, Shibori ( your own felt examples or otherwise) to contribute to the discussion and make the session lively.

 

KNIT AND STITCH

Thanks to all volunteers in advance of the show- without your help Feltmakers Ireland would not be able to have an exhibition stand. The Sunday session is running as usual despite it being the last day of the Knit and Stitch show… maybe we can share information about our visits and experience.

FIBRE will also be available- though there may be limited stock this weekend due to the Knit and Stitch show exhibit.

 

Sunday Session Nov 10th

nov 19 session

NEWS UPDATE:

Sunday session on Nov 10th will be held as usual at Knockmarron Gate Studio 10:30am, all welcome to attend. Clodagh will give a talk on Japanese textiles and show some of her own dye work. She is asking members to bring along any examples of their own Japanese textiles. Perhaps you have travelled there for the Rugby or plan to go next year for the Olympics? Japan is on trend in fashion too for 2020.

Please bring any examples you have of Kimonos, Shibori ( your own felt examples or otherwise) to contribute to the discussion and make the session lively.

 

KNIT AND STITCH

Thanks to all volunteers in advance of the show- without your help Feltmakers Ireland would not be able to have an exhibition stand. The Sunday session is running as usual despite it being the last day of the Knit and Stitch show… maybe we can share information about our visits and experience.

FIBRE will also be available- though there may be limited stock this weekend due to the Knit and Stitch show exhibit.

 

An interview with Daisy Collingridge.

Burt LungesSome of you might know of the amazing and wonderfully fantastical work of textile artist Daisy Collingridge. I’m an avid follower of her work on Instagram and when I saw that she was coming to the Knit & Stitch shows including the RDS Dublin venue I was just delighted at the prospect of seeing the work up close!

Felt makers Ireland decided to get in touch ahead of Daisy’s exhibition to ask her a little about her journey as a textile artist. We realise that this work is not felt, nor made from wool but I hope, that you like me will love it and it will inspire you to develop your textile practice further.

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

Mum is a sewer, stitcher, patchwork maker. She decorates cakes and constructs curtains. It is her influence that has guided me towards being practical and ultimately towards stitch. My family home is full of fabric, threads, paints, wood. We are all hoarders so there is always plenty of materials to get a project started. I still return to my family home to do large parts of my sculptural work. My family play a huge role in what a do, whether it is practical or moral support they are always there.

The current form my artistic work takes isn’t the most financially rewarding so I am also an illustrator. I have my own greetings card company; DMC Illustrations. It is very different to my sculptural work, but keeps things fresh! When I’m not sewing or drawing, I like to run. Running has always been part of my life and it has given me the discipline to grow my card company and continue to sculpt with fabric. It keeps me sane.

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

From making over 40 stuffed toys as a kid. (I was a little obsessed with teddy bears) it has been a direct route through Fine Art GCSE, A-level, Art foundation and finally a degree in Fashion Design at Central Saint Martins that has led me to this point. There were always textiles elements to my work during school, which naturally led to fashion. On reflection my heart was never really in fashion, but the freedom to create and the people that I met during my degree were invaluable. Since graduating I have predominately left fashion behind focusing more on sculpture (though still wearable). These have been shown as part of the 62 Groups’ Ctrl/Shift group exhibition as well as part of the World of Wearable Arts in New Zealand. My best story is still making a dress for Bjork. That was unreal!

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

I like a deadline. It’s good to work towards an exhibition or competition. I take great pleasure in seeing a project from start to finish and more importantly to create with my own hands. I felt that I would lose that if I were to be a designer for a company. I never stopped making even during the years that I didn’t have a focus. It is impulsive and rarely planned. The act of creating makes me happy. So, I guess my motivation is happiness!

Projects usually start with a period of experimentation. My work is driven my fabric manipulation and experimentation as opposed to concept. It can be difficult to allow yourself to just play without an ‘end piece’ at the end. I think it is vital phase to keep your ideas moving forward. The ‘Squishys’ have been a development on from my graduation collection. They are the culmination of free machine quilting pushed to the extreme. I work in the same way as I would making clothes, I work mainly on the stand. Draping and physically wearing the pieces as I go to see how they hang and move. The result is no longer a ‘couture’ dress but a ‘couture squishy’!

The fabric is hand dyed. Once I’ve selected my colour palette, I used Procion dyes to create the pastel shades. This is done in the sink (my parents kitchen sink). Each Squishy is made from 5-6 different garments; mask, trousers, top and/or jacket and gloves. I build up the underlying volume at this stage using thick wadding; essentially build the silhouette. I then begin to build up the relief and shape by hand sewing on blobs of fabric with wadding and beans (both heavy and light). I always start with the head first. This informs the character of the person I am making. They are all made up in this way (rather than based on real people).

Daisy Collingridge clive kneelerWhat currently inspires you? 

Bringing things to life.

I worked with the animator Isabel Garrett to produce a miniature squishy for a short animation called ‘Listen to Me Sing’. It was pure magic to watch the small person I built around an armature actually breath and come to life!

Similarly, I love creating videos with my wearable pieces. I am excited to do more film work. They are the most fun.

Felt makers Ireland would like to thank Daisy for her time in participating in this interview process. We can’t wait to see the work in November. We wish her every success in her textile journey.

The Knit & Stitch show is on at the RDS Dublin 7th-11th of November- where you will be able to meet Daisy’s fantastical creations- in person!

Website: www.daisycollingridge.com

Instagram: @daisy_collingridge

www.dmcillustrations.com

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