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Felt sense

Or who has invented my life?

For more than twenty years, creations were made mostly with wool. All kinds of things really: toys , scarves ,dresses, and handbags but also wall hangings ,sculptures and fantastic costumes. If the medium is the message, as the Canadian Marshall McLuhan stated, then what is the revelation of this material?

Are we artists not all driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide ?

Inspirations came and come from so many direction — some from walks in the forest ,some from books or exhibits. Then there are ideas like the seven deadly sins or dreams like the garden of delights.

South Dakota Art Museum 6
South Dakota Art Museum 6

But why this wool?

Why the loving of the felt?

Why love felt making ?

The wool is light and feral; it comes in so many colours and characters and qualities that surprise but also give tranquility because it feels so strangely common.

It is chaotic and wild and untamed ,still so close to the animal, who grows it generously several times a year.

Then the craft of felting ,the entangling of the fibers to a sturdy ,solid sculptable material .

Felted , that fluffy soft hair is caught in a material which looks like something close to animal hides, maybe even our own skin.

As wool it is free and flowing but as felt, it is imprisoned by its own hair.

As substance it gives us protection ,warmth ,insulation but its density can also invite sensations of breathlessness maybe even suffocation.

The feel of wool is inviting to touch — we felters cant resist the allure of its possibilities .

The laying out of the carefully combed or carded fibers. Designs with intricate patterns and forms . Fascinating color combinations, placing the wool filaments in all kind of directions sometimes mixed with silks or other fibers .This painting, this shingling hair by hair, done with presence and attention is calming for the mind. The result is enchanting .

Everything changes when we start to felt — adding the soapy water ,the rubbing and rolling ,the endless massaging ( Ever wondered what is behind that need of caressing our material for hours ,maybe every day?). Gently to start with ,to give the wool time to come together and then working with more force, entangles it forever in a new form .

The final hardening and shaping is intense and sometimes almost violent ,especially when the final work is voluminous and heavy in weight.

The intense physical labour can be very gratifying when making very large pieces — almost a “peakexperience . It can take months to prepare and it can be physically painful in the body, but getting there, is very satisfying .

The aliveness of this medium makes it feel close to our skin. The fact that we make it almost solely with our hands with no tools or screens , the experience of shaping the wool only with touch into a completely unique creation is outstanding .

Sometimes it feels as if the making seems to be more important then what is made. Usually the final result leaves a feeling of disappointment. But never the less, the next idea is already popping up in the mind and creating excitement for the next project.

And the message?

What is the message of all those soft sculptural pieces ?

All those creations which look like mysterious hides or creatures from the sea or maybe enchanted forests. Some remind us of body parts ,strange organisms that look like animals but at the same time like plants or mushrooms or maybe corals .

Do they express sensations which otherwise would stay unnoticed but want to be seen and “felt”?Felted sculpture by Marjolein Dallinga ,bloomfelt.com

In fact is not all art about existential questions? Who are we? What is life? Why death? What is the intent of sexuality? Why there is illness ? Why are we alienation from our body?

Questions we have no conclusive answers for.

Maybe Art is an attempt to handle all those questions , like science and religion try in their own particular ways.

Most of the felted art pieces are expressions of the struggle with the body —they are about death and sex, sometimes quite literarily express sensations or emotions.

Does this art ,do these felted pieces become a way to live ,a way to survive ?

Still every day ,when waking up the first thing really calling is the wool ,the studio and the next creation to felt

The wool ,light and malleable but modest and so versatile. Its forgiving nature is inviting ,relatively inexpensive easily open to extensive experimentation

The closeness of felt ,almost a second skin, a friendship without a friend.

Marjolein Dallingainspiration for bloomfelt

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