I appreciate the human, individual feel of handmade things, and have been involved in various craft projects since childhood. Twenty years ago my husband and I bought an old farm and living in a farming environment has opened up previously unimaginable opportunities to learn and apply craft techniques. We acquired five Scottish Blackface sheep and started a flock. Soon we had more sheep, a lama and a donkey and lots of wool. I joined a craft guild and was taught how to card, dye and spin wool. The wool kept piling up so I taught myself to knit and make felt. For the past few years I have been making objects out of the wool from our sheep. After the wool is sheared it is washed and dyed. I use a large 60 gallon stock pot and a propane camp stove to dye the wool fleeces. The dyed fleeces are then sent to a mill for processing into fluffy wool batts that can be used for felting or for other purposes such as spinning, knitting and weaving.
Making wool felt involves placing thin layers of wool batts on top of each other, gradually adding soap and hot water and applying pressure. During this process, the wool fibers lock together to form felt. Scottish Blackface wool has a coarse outer coat and a fine undercoat. With Scottish Blackface wool, the felting process causes the soft undercoat fibers to lock together which holds the longer coarse fibers in place. The resulting felt is quite strong. Felting is endlessly fascinating because you are never quite sure how an object will turn out. It is stimulating to invent and create useful and pleasing objects that take advantage of the sculptural and/or insulating properties of wool. The natural world around me is inspiring, as is the work of other fiber artists. Recently I have begun to experiment with combining wool felt with wood, leather and other natural materials. I have always loved wool, even before I had sheep, and this amazing material provides me with endless opportunities to create.