In the midst of difficulty lies opportunity...


A friend has a fridge magnet inscribed with Einstein's wonderful quote 'In the midst of difficulty lies opportunity'. I've been thinking about that a great deal. My studio move has been put on hold (for a few days) as the management company deals with last minute permit wrangling. 

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As my business is currently in boxes (I moved out of my old studio last week and will post about my new studio space next week) I am bereft of work. I have discovered I do not like this, that it is very distracting. I fill my days with what I regard as my non-productive activities, trying not to get frustrated. I have done the ironing, gone to the cinema, stayed up late, got up late but despite my best efforts feel only agitated as a result. I've also been looking back over some recent work, images of which are posted throughout this blog, modeled by Rachel Worrall.


BUT I have not forgotten my Einstein, the bits I can understand anyway! Not working physically has given me a chance to do some thinking about my work going forward. It's time to talk about inspiration. 


Here is a thrown together list of felt artists to whom I look for inspiration -

Ricarda A�mann - Ricarda has wonderful photos of her resist dyeing work and is incredibly experimental and prolific.


Elina Saari - Elina uses mostly pre-felt, she does not use a great deal of roving and she does some sewing. Her work is hugely inventive.

Thomas Horst - Thomas used (he is no longer felting) all wool in his amazing work, and very thin wool at that. He uses the washing machine method of felting. His practice was to begin with white wool and to dye everything when the piece or pieces were completed.

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And off the top of my head, other fiber artists -

Nick Cave - I love his whacky and outrageous work!

Andrea Graham is a fiber artist who I much admire.

Sheila Hicks has just had a retrospective at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Philadelphia - wonderful stuff.


In general I love the whimsical and avant-garde - Carol Eckert, Alexander McQueen, Philip Treacy. I am also deeply inspired by nature, for example, when I look through Seeds: Time Capsules of Life by Rob Kessler and Wolfgang Stuppy, all I see is felt. In terms of color, my go-to is Van Gogh.

For great inspiration closer to home, Chrissie Day and Nicola Brown have just published a wonderful felting e-book - called simply Felting E-book. The book is available for download on Blurb and if you wish for patterns the authors will supply you with them via email.


The authors met through the cyber-sphere via their own (independent) blogs, Chrissie being British and Nicola, American. The book is organized into two parts with each author taking one half to outline their work and methods.

 It is always interesting to see different approaches to felting, (there really do seem to be as many ways to felt as there are felters) the book is filled with beautiful photos that filled my mind with wonderful ideas.

One of Chrissie's first projects - felting a lattice (ponge or china silk) shawl - would be fabulous for someone setting out. And one of the great things about Nicola's section is that she uses and explains how to use a sander as well as the washing machine method of creating felt. And she does so unapologetically, describing the use of these tools so you can add them to your felting kit to help solve a problem or create a sought-after effect rather than avoiding the mention of them as if they were underhand methods to apologize for ;-)!  


A couple of practical points about the book - the suppliers' list at the back is one of the best I've seen. Despite what I've said about Chrissie's shawl, I would argue that the book is more suitable for advanced felting practitioners. Also, as both artists make use of the sewing machine you will require some knowledge in that area.


A last note - I'm teaching at Massachusetts College of Art & Design on June 16 & 17th - Sculptural Forms in Felt. I'm sure my students, as they always do, will inspire me also! See you there!




Wonderful post, as always, Barbara. Hope that your unpacking is going well and that you're beginning to feel settled in your new location.

Great post! thank you and great work.
Hope to meet you one day...

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