I live in a little place called Mandurang South in the hills just outside of Bendigo on a beautiful 18 acre bush block. This peaceful and tranquil setting is an ideal environment in which to create my textiles and nourish my soul. It also provides me with plant material for making natural dyes for my work.
What stage of life are you at?
I am at a fabulous stage of life and loving every minute of it. I retired from the mainstream workforce five years ago to be a hands-on grandmother (a task I adore) and also to concentrate on developing my business, Raw Edge Textiles. And I have never been so busy in my life.
Do you live alone?
No. I live with my recently retired husband, Joe. We have been married for forty years. Our kids have long left the nest but we now have the pleasure of child minding grandchildren two days a week. We also live with my large, lazy dog, Tiger and four hens.
Where do you felt?
I am fortunate enough to have a great studio, separated from the house. This studio, my haven, was a two bedroom mudbrick cottage which we built to live in while we built our main mudbrick house (which took seven years). This space is perfect for my needs, giving me different rooms for different purposes. It also has a full kitchen, which is ideal for making natural dyes.
How do your family and friends react to your felting?
My whole family is incredibly supportive and tolerant of my obsession with felt. My husband has many interests and hobbies as well so there is a real balance in our lives and a good understanding of the importance of creative time for each of us.
How were you introduced to felting and when?
I first saw felt in 2004 at St.Kilda market. I was immediately captivated by this amazing fabric and knew then that this would be the start of an incredible journey. I then set about learning as much as I could about felting. I bought books, joined the Victorian Feltmakers Inc as well as the Australian Forum for Textile Arts. I attended as many workshops as I could. I was hooked.
What was the first thing you made?
A table runner. Everyone got table runners for Christmas that first year.
What role does felting play in your life?
Felting is extremely important to me. My personality type demands an ongoing challenge of some type. I also need the opportunity to be able to do my own thing, to create and to be financially independent. All these things are crucial to my happiness. I guess, if it wasn’t felting, it would be something else. I have always had the need for a passion in life and it is definitely felting at the present time.
What is your favorite thing about felting?
The satisfaction at the end result. There is a certain amount of intimacy and energy involved in the designing, making, then making the dye and dyeing the garment. I put a lot of myself into the creation of a garment. Sometimes it is hard to part with the finished product.
What is your least favorite thing about felting?
Cleaning up the studio.
Have you had any tertiary education in visual art?
No but have a life-long interest in all forms of visual art and fashion.
If you could make something for anyone who would it be and what would you make?
I wish I was at this stage in my felting career when my daughter got married eight years ago. I would love to have made her wedding dress. Next best thing…..a gown for Cate Blanchett to wear at the Academy Awards. I am a born optimist.
Who, what or where has been your latest inspiration?
I get inspiration from many different sources, from the world around me and sometimes in dreams. I have a pad and pencil next to my bed and jot down ideas as they come to mind, sometimes in the middle of the night. Very often they don’t make any sense the next morning, but sometimes they do. I really love the work of Akira Isogawa and find his style very inspirational.
What is your favourite movie?
An old French movie called “Babette’s Feast”
What book are you currently reading?
Lonely Planet Guide to Europe. We have a holiday coming up.
What is your favorite pastime or hobby?
Felting, but I also make time for sewing, bushwalking, gardening, travel and spending time with family and friends amongst other things.
What is the one thing people should know about what you do, but don't?
I do have a rolling machine to help with the laborious task of rolling. My husband made this for me. It would not be possible to produce what I do without it. I have now made 500+ eco-printed scarves and wraps. These are my main source of income.For these I use Optim (silky wool) fiber which is 100% wool that has been stretched to 12 micron. It dyes beautifully and has a gorgeous lustrous finish.
What advice would you give to a new felter?
Take chances and don’t be afraid to experiment. There is no such thing as a mistake and much to learn along the
way. Enjoy what you are doing, felting should not be a chore but a chance to nurture your creativity and to have fun.