Sunday, December 1, 2013
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
We’ll be here this weekend with sales pieces! http://www.petalumadowntowncraftmart.com/
Sunday, November 3, 2013
An interview I did for a college project:
Describe your artist background/biographical history of yourself
I hit a really rough spot from the age of 11-14; it was a traumatic & isolated period where art kept me going, giving me refuge/purpose/hope. I was eventually able to leave this poor environment when I got into a magnet arts high school (on my second try) and, again, art gave me purpose, community, & spiritual satisfaction.
I went to art college briefly but felt lost there-so I decided to study art history instead. I enjoyed this period of more academic focus & stopped making art for a few years. In the last semester of my senior year, I found myself in a metal sculpture class (because I needed the credit & it fit my schedule)….before I knew it, I was head-over-heels in love with art again & it was all I wanted to do.
After graduation I moved out to California, impressed by the art that was going on here. I participated in the underground scene: doing performance, installation, & costuming. I apprenticed in architectural metalwork for 5 years. After deciding I didn’t want to continue in metalworking, I started my own business in 2005 through the San Francisco Street Artists Program (I had friends who had done it & I’d always wanted to give it a try). After a bit of searching around to find the right medium/product, I remembered seeing some beautiful hand-made felt (by Wendy Allen of MissFit) many years back & decided to give this a go. I learned online, through books, and by trail & error; in fact, felting was the first thing I had ever taught myself/learned on my own, which was a very liberating/empowering experience. I made bad, bad felt for months (stomping on clumps of wool in the shower & examining the results) & then started to get the hang of it. I was learning business at the same time, so I had certain goals in mind for the hoops I needed my felting to jump through. Overall, it was a really good fit for my energies.
In my life, felting was an unexpected medium and I am grateful everyday to have stumbled across it as it combines many things that I find exciting: color, sculpture, fashion, & materials. More broadly, I believe art is a spiritual practice that has given my life meaning & direction.
Could you please describe some of your processes and how you came about to this.
Many of the techniques I am best known for (ruffles, tendrils, edges) have come from experimenting. Once I noticed something interesting going on, I tried to harness & refine it. I am always learning from the medium, even now some 9 years later, but some of the best “effects” originally started out as accidents.
The medium, (especially felting which seems very wily/mystifying at times) is the best teacher. I asked it “questions” (in the form of “experiments”) and it gave me results (sometimes unexpected ones!). I learned what worked & what tricks the medium could do. Then, like water, I would go with the flow of that rather than swimming upstream. Since I was working with a certain end-game in mind (wearables), some things suited this & some didn’t, so it was kind of back and forth between what the felt could do & what would make a good wearable.
Coming from a personal view I know felt can be difficult to work with at times, do you have any advice that you’d be willing to offer to young fiber artists?
Experiment, Experiment, Experiment. Practice, Practice, Practice.
Don’t be too controlling. Keep an open mind. It’s a language & you have to learn it: basic techniques lead to more complex techniques. Take your time & enjoy the process. Imitate, practice, be inspired by others, take it all in. Then, when you have something you want to say through that medium, use all of what you have learned to express that/make those creative decisions. A medium is a new “voice:” you have to practice & learn, compose & refine, and just really tap in & let it flow.
Does your work use various fibers or do you like to stick to a certain type?
I like sumptuous things, so fine materials are interesting to me: luxurious, sparkling, soft, luminous. When making wearables, this is especially important because the items are worn close to the skin. For fine art, I have more options/choices. I try to keep my mind open to new materials & experimenting, though I still mainly veer towards soft/fine.
What drew you to this work?
Color, sculpture, fashion, sumptuous materials, plasticity, wide range of options in terms of what to make, rareness of felting, historical importance & revalance of the medium, compelling look, safety of material & working conditions.
What’s unique about your work?
I have a unique way with color: I am very at ease with color dynamics, maybe more so than most. Maybe also a conceptual dimension, that gives the work a certain “umph.” I have a sense for/sophistication suited to design/fashion that has evidently worked well commercially.
What themes do you like to explore that are of interest to you that relate to your feltmaking?
Labor: hand-making as a form of meditation. Expression in the process. Femininity/Feminism. Life/Death/Sexuality/Nature/Horror/Seduction/Joy.
Why do you do what you do?
Sculptor Louise Bourgeois once said: “Art is a guarantee of sanity.” I make art because it keeps me sane, it helps to communicate those ideas that I have difficulty putting into words.
How do you work?
Everyday. I get up and get to work; I work until late at night; my working is what holds my life together & permeates the day.
How has your practice changed over time?
From 2005-2012, I worked very commercially: my business was my art. So, there was a lot of business-building, marketing, production, product lines, etc. I kept a production studio, worked with helpers, ordered materials, travelled to & sold at trade shows, developed clientele, provided customer service, and so on. Since its inception, “Harlequin Feltworks” is a machine that I feed & keep chugging along: it has its own identity; it spans a lot of territory (time, space, concepts); it fits into a clearly defined economy/ecology (niche/market); it earns money &, like a gear, churns an industry (materials, shows); it is part of a larger arts/crafts culture & tradition.
Now, I am moving back into fine arts, so I’m exploring more: keeping my mind open for ideas passing by. I’ve managed to bring the business down to a simmer rather than a boil. I have reduced overhead & am finding more time, so that I can work on projects that are more time-intensive. I am studying more art theory again. It is a new challenge: can I take what I have learned & apply that to a new body of work/make a difference in a new field (contemporary art)?
I find all things go in cycles, part of a learning & growing process.
What art do you most identify with?
I like contemporary art, especially if it is edgy, compelling, or stunning (makes you think, sticks in your mind, evokes emotion). I like costume & fashion, for how fused the art & person become. I like folk art, too, for its sincerity.
“Identify” though is a different sort of thing…..I identify, I guess, with Dada: that art is about questioning.
What work do you most enjoying doing?
I enjoy the problem-solving involved in tackling a new, untried project. I like brain-storming too. I like work that takes a certain amount of time (2 weeks-1month)….that timing works well for focus & the feeling that there is a nice pace of accomplishment/production. I like projects that have certain definite steps, so there are different stages & changing challenges….satisfying, bite-sized bits.
What inspires you?
People inspire me. The times we live in. The past. What it is to be human & to be alive. What is happening now & what needs to/should/can happen next. How we subliminally use symbols as a pre-language & how those symbols are used (culturally or commercially) to persuade.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I had a professional felting artist, whom I really look up to, remind me that she is not only an artist, but a professor, a colleague, a friend, a wife/partner, a mother, a sister, a daughter, etc. All of these roles were important to her and needed growth & tending. It was good advice at the time, because I was too singularly focused on my art/business and was not attending to the other roles & relationships that would make for a well-rounded life.
A lot of people have told me to slow down & enjoy the ride. That is good advice that I still struggle with, but I think intensity is something I might be stuck with.
Professionally, what’s your goal?
In a nutshell: I would like to be the best artist that I can be.
I hope/strive/work to be the best little cog that I can be: a part of a larger interlocking machinery and community of artists, contributing meaningful work to the cultural landscape that we all share. I live for the great conversations, for a peaceful place to practice & explore, and for the satisfaction of having a purposeful role in the art community.
Friday, October 25, 2013
Friday, September 20, 2013
Photos from our “Juliet” Shoot from maybe a year & a half ago. Just getting the final photos now & it’s great to see what all the hard work added up to! I love the dramatic light & dynamic color.
Photo: Antonio Genovia
Stylist/Creative Director: Sara Cecil
MUA: Thazzia Frank
Felt Wearables: Jenne Giles, Harlequin Feltworks
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
An article that I wrote about my felt work & experience, “Meet the Feltmaker,” has just come out in the latest copy of Felt Magazine from Australia. The magazine is full of great articles & how-tos. www.artwearpublications.com.au
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
When I first started felting in 2005, this blog really helped me.
I primarily used it as an online workbook, keeping track of new learning, research, and discoveries in feltmaking: felt artists that I admired, technical jargon to keep track of, important links that I could refer back to, history links and a place I could collect and sort inspiration. I could also use it to post my progress: projects completed, a diary of tasks & development, and a great way to look back and see growth. The blog was an incentive to keep working on things and to connect with other felt souls in the world. And the feltworks blog has been a huge, huge help and was a real joy to work on.
Now, many years later, life has moved on and we’re now a couple of chapters along from the one where the blog played a pivotal role. When the time comes move forward, it can require doing some fairly brutal editing of past projects, especially ones that are publicly published. For this reason, I had to go through feltworks and pare it down to a more professional selection. So, it went from about 1000 posts down to about 150. Though it has lost some of the fun, informal air, I am keeping the site live in the hopes that the selection of posts that are here are still helpful & inspiring to others.
Since I don’t use the feltworks blog as much, nature seems to want to reclaim it: spam, like mold or coral, is starting to adhere to the site. In an effort to reduce the energy needed to keep up the site & prune away the spam, I’m turning comments off.
I hope that you still find some great information on here & inspiring work that is worth looking through. I find that more of my day-to-day energy is going to the big kahuna of social networking, facebook, and invite you to connect with me there: https://www.facebook.com/harlequin.feltworks
Thanks always and best wishes,