Hinging Clasps

photo-38photo-36I get excited about felt hinges and their dual purpose as clasps…this airy wool fiber that has qualities of softness and vulnerability felting tight into a mechanism that has a strong industrial nature.  When I felt wool fiber into solid forms, I begin by systematically preparing the general forms by bundling or wrapping crosshatched fibers with ample airspace (think something between cotton candy and a cotton ball) so that the wool fibers have space to intertwine as the mass of wool shrinks into an integrous felt fabric (think Q-tip or suede). The more the fibers intertwine the less vulnerable the surface fibers of the form are to abrasion and pilling, important considering the wear a clasp will endure.  Pictured are the dry prepped forms for the 4 hinges that will connected the two black dry prepped cords with hoops on the ends to the hoops on the chest and back pieces already made for the DHG Charity Project.



The tightly fulled/shrunk and much smaller hinges are pictured here soaking in hot water to make sure the soap has dissipated out of the form and into the water before a final rinse and drying. You can see a variety of clasp styles in my jewelry work on the www.strongfelt.com website under the NECKLACES category from single clasps to more complex systems as well as clasping systems used on a vessel. Now that all the components of the piece, Reparation, have been felted/fulled, the stitching can begin…

For context of this project please read my first posting and those that followed about the DHG Charity Project in STRONGFELT’s Blog, INTRIGUE.

The Chest & Back Pieces

photo-29I had decided the piece didn’t feel strong enough  with only a focus piece to lay on the chest of the wearer. I wanted the piece to feel more like wearing armor and having a fence or a stone wall of glass on either side of the heart would create that expression. Therefore I made a chest and back piece as seen here laying flat on my studio table. The space between the chest and back piece is too small to have the necklace encircle the neck, so the next strategy of making was creating the clasping mechanisms to join the two pieces into one….

photo-39During the making of this piece for the DHG Charity Project to benefit the Anna Meyer Children’s Hospital, I have been struggling through issues with my neck muscles and cervical vertebrae. As we are influenced by our environments and experiences, it wasn’t surprising to see how the daily visualizing of my spine and efforts to deduce the issues and heal have influenced the making of this piece. I had x-rays of my neck taken and as I was looking at them through my studio window into my backyard, this connection became clear and I decided on the title of the piece, Reparation.




For context of this project please read my first posting and those that followed about the DHG Charity Project in STRONGFELT’s Blog, INTRIGUE.



Building Layers and Encasing the Glass

photo-28After placing a base layer of fabric on top of the partial felt cut into a fence pattern, the beach glass is placed on top of this fabric in each negative space of the patterning. Depending on the thickness of my fabric choices and how hard it would be for the wool fibers to maneuver through all the layers, I will sometimes lay a fine layer of fiber ontop of the partial felt before covering the layout with another piece of fabric to act as a “glue” to bond all the layers together. The final step is to edge the piece with strips of partial felt to cover up the fabric edges and in the case of this neck piece, I added two solid felt hoops for part of the hinging and clasping mechanism.

As seen here, the blue Murano beach glass is trapped between two layers of fabric, well not quite yet…once the layout is rolled to initiate the felting process the fibers from the partial felt fence patterning will maneuver through the layers of fabric locking the pieces of glass in the silk compartments.

For context of this project please read my first posting and those that followed about the DHG Charity Project in STRONGFELT’s Blog, INTRIGUE.

Fabric Felt Fusion and Encasements

photo-27The two main reasons I encase beach glass in fabric pockets, aside from the conceptual nature of the inclusion, is to give weight to the textile and to see the color and shape of the glass. With the beach glass spaced evenly in a pattern across the surface of the otherwise light and flexible fabric, the textile takes on a quality reminiscent of the movement of a reptile’s skin or the movement of a spine.  In order to also see the beach glass I tend to use a lower momme weight of silk with more transparency.

For this project, I requested Dyeing House Gallery’s 3.5 mm and 6mm silk chiffon as well as their wool gauze pictured.  I was curious to experiment with the wool gauze as it has an initial open weave structure which would close up depending on how much the surrounding felt was fulled. Gauze fabric has medical associations as well, making it an appropriate fabric to employ in this  piece for the DHG Charity Auction to benefit the Anna Meyer’s Children Hospital. I developed a deep connection with gauze material after a terrible burn to my right arm had me in a routine of swaddling my arm in medicated gauze for weeks on end.

For context of this project please read my first posting and those that followed about the DHG Charity Project in STRONGFELT’s Blog, INTRIGUE.





Beginning the Surface Designing

photo-25I have been incorporating fence patterns in my work for sometime now as well as other protective imagery such as stone or brick walls and wood grain. I began placing pieces of beach glass encased in silk in the fence’s negative spaces as a symbol of light, clarity, and transparency. You can see this way that I work felt in my body textiles as well as my recent neckpieces at www.strongfelt.com.

Considering the work for Dyeing House Gallery’s Charity Auction was benefitting the Anna Meyer Children Hospital, fence patterning seemed an appropriate place to begin my designing… thinking about eradicating or blocking their dis-ease. Also, I had been gifted a collection of beach glass from Murano, Italy by a former student, Terry Heintz. It included a grouping of blue glass that I couldn’t imagine a better purpose for…to symbolize hope and clear blue skies. My intention was to create jewelry for the project and a piece that would present on the chest protecting the heart. I began cutting the negative spaces out of the stack of both partial felt I had made from DHG’s Merino top and a layer of both DHG’s white and black needle felt. Interesting that the design I cut referenced the spinal column. More on that in the next posting….

For context of this project please read my first posting about the DHG Charity Project in STRONGFELT’s Blog, INTRIGUE.

An Invitation I Could Not Resist

I was contacted by Annalisa of the Dyeing House Gallery in Prato, Italy back in January 2015 about a special project that they had initiated and asked if I would like to participate. The basic concept was that I would have choice of the company’s products to create with and would then donate some of that work to DHG for an online auction to benefit the Pediatric Oncology Ward of the Anna Meyer Hospital in Florence, Italy. A nice idea, no? My style of working wool would reach new audiences through the DHG website, other felters would see that I am working with DHG products through my blogging and I would receive a variety of DHG products of my choosing to continue to work with. What really locked me in to participate in this project, however, was the idea of my work being auctioned off to help fund this well-known Children’s Hospital that was built in 1884 and that offers its services free of charge. That is what the name STRONGFELT is about…not just quality of material, but integrity in actions and communications.



I requested a selection of colors of DHG’s extra fine Merino top (L to R: storm, white, coffee, dune, beaver, tulle, dark) and wool nepps. Here, the fibers are laid out in my STRONGFELT STUDIO to make wet felted sheets of partial felt with a potential of some 90% shrinkage and sprinkled with wool nepps to offer some random surface texture that I can play off when free-motion stitching.









I always make my own partial felt as I can control the thickness of the layout and how much I felt/full of the potential shrinkage of that weight of wool per area before I cut up the sheets to use in my designing. I realized that DHG also sold needle felted sheets so I requested some yardage in black and white to incorporate in my design work. I was curious to see how my wet felted partial felts compared with the thicker needle felted sheets when incorporated in the same piece. I stacked all the sheets together and began cutting out some shapes for my jewelry pieces I was envisioning. Stay tuned for the projects development….

Refined & Consistent..Small Scale Solid Form Felting














The next class running in the STRONGFELT STUDIO in Asheville, NC is Solid Form Felting Techniques, June 19-21. We will be working small in this class so there is room for a few more participants if you think this direction in felting will be advantageous to your creative envisioning! We’ll first focus in on the dry fiber preparation for specific forms like balls, hoops and cords (the components these pieces are made from) and learn methods for repeating the same forms. By creating systems, a foundational understanding of the materials is established that allows us to reach further… to experiment with success…to innovate.


2Then learn different ways to connect these basic components together to begin the designing process. How thick will a cord be? Will it taper or have a dramatic change in diameter? Will it undulate between cord and form components? What will the spacing be between components? Will the components be intersected by the cord or hang from it? And so on…



These four neck pieces have an encased mirror as the centerpiece. This is one of the topics of focus in the Resist-based Pendants workshop, June 26-28. In that class we learn about small scale hollow form sculpting using interior an exterior resists. For the encasement study, we use resist material around the object to enlarge the surface area so the wool fibers can shrink snug against the object.


3From the Solid Form class in the STRONGFELT STUDIO last summer, Susanna Hohman is seen here designing a piece with repeating cords of the same diameter and skillfully keeping all the ends dry so she can connect the cords to other components. Tinker Toys really…what can you build from the basic forms? Want to come study & play! Send me an email

TBT The Envisioning of the Studio!

I came across this shot last night from March 2013. I was sharing my vision for building the STRONGFELT STUDIO with local photographer Michael Mauney who had been assigned a shoot for a story in American Craft. It is so dramatic to see such an empty lot as I can hardly imagine my home without the south facing studio whose windows I would be touching had it been built at the time of the photo. 20130301_5d_0125

Sculpting Hollow Form, April 23-26, 2015

It had been just a few weeks since the first STRONGFELT STUDIO class in early April, but this crew got to see all the terraced beds blooming with color and texture. From the left: Karin Fish, myself, Susan Kaplow and Nina Denninger.














Nina’s hands are in action below, exploring the raising of a form from a 2-D plane by fulling the differential shrinkage into the third dimension. The ladies then employed the same concept of placing partial felt density into the layout, but this time while wrapping a resist. The increased area from both sides of the resist provides more height for the form’s walls as well as an ability to close the mouth of the form. Karin and Susan are refining their fiber layout around the resist, so to not bulk up the area at the edge, which would impede the raising of the form once the resist is removed.

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My demonstration piece showing the art of less, is more! Negative space, or areas of thinner layout, result in more dramatic forming as these high shrinkage areas can undercut the low shrinkage partial felt leading to concave and highly protuberating form.










Nina’s form below and to the left, in the process of being fulled by using the STRONGFELT tool to not only agitate the concave areas but also to block and stretch the protuberations. Of course, this level of muscling the felt is in response to the strength of the fulled felt and shouldn’t be applied when the felt has less integrity or it will tear up or pill the surface. It’s all about intent…you have to prepare the form you are wanting by how you lay out the weight of fiber and on what shape resist and then think about how you agitate the wool from the beginning of the process to the end! Lastly, a little refining by way of steaming, shaving, stitching and applying shellac. Great class ladies!! Next course on Sculpting Hollow Form, Sept 17-20, in the STRONGFELT STUDIO, Asheville, NC!





















Seasonal Changes of the Dogwood-Artist Residency

LisaKlakulak04_15_6The piece created during my Vance Elementary School Residency with 5th graders last week, April 7-10, 2015, has been completed today! I stretched it over a 28″ x 38″ x 3″ frame, which resulted in a lovely effect of several of the Dogwood blooms wrapping around the sides and sitting on top of the frame.



A special thanks to the Asheville City Schools Foundation for funding my TAPAS Residency at Vance, to Brian Ballenger for providing time in his science class for such a project, to Mark Schieferstein for cranking out a frame for me and to Steve Mann who made time today to photograph the piece. I look forward to sharing more about this residency and posting a collection of images on my website’s residency page in the next week…

Now I am on my way to the school’s open house so to be present to hear the kids talk to parents about their experience!