Barbara Ziek


Artist Statement

Why felt? We bought alpacas largely because they produce fleece. When I ski-bummed, I knit. My sister-in-law offered to teach me to weave. I loved the tactile experience of fiber arts and looked forward to the prospect of creating beautiful and useful objects with fleece from my beautiful, gentle alpacas. Then, a friend asked me to go to a felting class. I did. There was something about the fluidity and flexibility of felt making, of shaping and sculpting objects with my hands…I was hooked. My alpacas are true individuals, sensitive and highly intelligent. Just as they are individual and different from one another, so are their fleeces. Some are fleeces are fine; others, coarse. Colors vary. Texture (crimp) varies from one fleece to another. These characteristics give generally predictable results – useful when planning a project. However, once the project is underway, not-so-predictable intangibles kick in. Some fleeces grab and shrink quickly; others require much work – gentle, then heavier and heavier pressure for a long time. Some harden and go from individual fibers to a solid, cohesive fabric obediently, others obstinately resist. Still others pretend: they seem to be flat, finished pieces of felt, but after drying a few days, individual hairs begin to stick out. These unknown factors make felting exciting for me; though the process is the same, it is always new. I love the tactile sensations as I felt. Dry fleece is silky soft as I lay it out. As I add soapy water and start to gently massage the fleece, then rub it with more intensity until I can shape and mold it, the fleece tells me what it needs to become the object I want. Exactly where color and pattern will reside in the final work are somewhat unpredictable when felting. I start with a good idea of what I want to do. But shrinkage during felting depends somewhat on the individual fleece. And, shrinkage always has its own way with color and pattern. The end product is a collaboration between me and the particular fleece and the colors, yarns, fabrics I use. So, I start with my plan and then release myself to the particular fleece and to the felting process. My roadmap plan becomes a meandering, sometimes mysterious path to a finished object. I see the finished work with my eyes: usually more satisfying and more organic than my original design… that each alpaca playing with me through its fleece? I feel the finished work against my skin: I stroke it or wrap it around my neck. Aaah, yes, there is definitely one of my beloved alpacas in there.

5815 Mountain Shadow View
Colorado Springs, Co 80908
(719) 331-0609

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