Susan Tornheim

Mixed Media, Felting, Knitting

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I have been creating mixed-media pieces for several years. These sculptural works often include textile elements, like felted wool, as well as wire, wood, and natural elements. They are a growing body of explorations that express a variety of ideas and feelings.

My felted work grew out of my childhood introduction to fiber and textiles. After learning to felt in 1977 I have primarily been a surface designer and feltmaker, producing clothing, hats, and other items from wool felt that I make. I employ the ancient felting technique of using soap, hot water, friction, and pressure to cause wool fibers to entangle randomly into a strong fabric.

My focus is on the surface design: combining and coordinating colors, and adding shapes that I have cut from lightly felted wool or other textiles. Mohair or brushed wool yarns add linear elements and contrasting color. All these additions meld with the brushed batts of wool underneath them during the felting process. I shape the felt in the wet stage. Some of my hats have a quirky small point in the center. Other hats are conical. By pressing, squeezing, and rolling, I coax the felt to take the desired form. I especially enjoy combining felting and knitting, as well as piecing felt scraps together. My current explorations include depicting nature in my work and adding embroidery.

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