Reflections at the Midway Point

I’ve been researching a comment I made in my last post—about perhaps being a pioneer by using industrial felt as a needle- and wet-felting canvas. I’m more convinced this is true. So I’m thinking about appropriate names for the process. Nothing great has come to me yet— suggestions are welcome! I define it as “a revised method of needle- and wet-felting using a painterly approach on industrially-felted wool.”

A random group of colorful wool top.

Current State of Affairs

For the past few days, I’ve been playing catch up. I ran out of a few of my commercially-dyed fibers and had to order more to finish the backgrounds. While waiting for the new fiber order to arrive, I realized my original collar wasn’t going to work out the way I wanted so I’ve been revising that and finally have that resolved.

I’m at a point in the process where I feel like it will never end. It feels like I’ve been working on this coat FOREVER!  But when looking back at my blog post dates, it’s only been a little over one month of intense work so far! Wow! And only two more months to go before the coat is finished and installed on the Arboretum grounds. Yet, the clock is ticking. There is still a lot of work ahead. As I said in the last post, when the initial needle felting is complete, I’ll further adhere the fiber to the canvas by wet felting the final pieces of the coat. (My collaborator, Colleen Werdien, an accomplished wet-felting artist, is helping me in that final wet felting stage.) And then the sewing of the coat will begin, the fitting on the armature, and the final touches completed prior to taking everything down and pulling the armature apart for the trip to the MN Landscape Arboretum and final installation on the grounds—in 2 months. Tick tick…

Approaching the Ornamentation

But I haven’t yet talked about my approach to the ornamentation and this post seems like as good a time as any to go into that—especially since I’ve now been working on the ornamentation for a couple of weeks and it’s finally coming together. It wasn’t always that way…

There was a moment when I sat at my work table with a stack of industrial felt pieces beside me, the colored fiber all ready to go and the armature standing in front of everything like it was tapping its foot and saying… “Well, what are you waiting for?” I was frozen in how to approach starting the work. Up to that point, I had only been working on small sketches of ideas. Nothing could equal the reality of a 7+ foot high structure, in a 7 foot wide space. Tap tap… This is when the wisdom, of those of us experienced in years, comes forward and tells us that the first thing to do is put fear aside and just start making SOMETHING! So I did that. And it became the background for the coat ornamentation. As I worked, the background began to create a world of its own and also began to “inform” the work to come. (Sorry “inform” is art-speak for when something encourages the artist to think and see in a more directed way, creating a path to guide the work onward.) 

I started to feel an energy emerging from the surface as I worked. This led to developing a visual cohesiveness for the ornamentation and in the end, hopefully, a visual cohesiveness in the entire coat and installation.

It’s a lesson for life. When things seem too large to cope with, just keep moving. A path to follow will come eventually. (Either that or you’ll be lost in the woods forever—Ha! Sorry. Couldn’t help it!)

Lost in a Northern Minnesota woods? Not such a bad place to be lost.


About wendyj-sagahill

I am a textile artist, designer, and author.
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