Category Archives: Fabric & Fiber

Kay Dudek Explores the Endless Possibilities of Wool

Necklace with felted beads by Kaye Dudek

Kay Dudek used felting processes, both wet and dry, to make the orange beads in this necklace. She added wood and metal beads for artistic effect.

What can you make with wool? If you visit Kay Dudek’s studio in Fort Collins, you might believe the answer is — just about everything.

Purses, jewelry, lampshades, hair ornaments, vessels, sculpture, toys, flowers, and art to frame and hang. Kay makes all of these plus shawls, mittens, and fabric without spinning, crocheting, knitting, or weaving.

The tiny scales along the surface of wool fibers catch on each other permanently when the fibers are rubbed together mechanically. Add a little soapy water, and the scales join even more strongly. The process is called felting — needle felting if the wool is dry, or wet felting if soap and water are used.

When Kay works at the felting process long enough, she can turn fluffy wool fibers into dense objects that have almost no give to them, like the orange beads in the necklace pictured above. Continue reading

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Prairie Moon Alpacas: Fiber Art on the Farm

Alpacas owned by Anne and Richard Phillips

After spring shearing reveals their faces and their long, thin necks, alpacas bear a remarkable resemblance to their relative the camel. These alpacas are grazing west of Fort Collins, on the farm of Anne and Richard Phillips. (Photo used with permission of A. Phillips)

On the west edge of Fort Collins, County Road 38E changes from one of the city’s busiest streets (Harmony Road) to what could be designated a scenic western byway. It winds around campgrounds at the south end of Horsetooth Reservoir, nestled where the plains appear to tip up in a salute to the foothills. After passing gracefully through a sprinkling of homes on the reservoir’s southwest edge, it breaks into rolling grassland interrupted occasionally by the short but rugged cliffs of grass-covered plateaus.

Eventually the road goes by the Masonville general store, where it takes the name Buckhorn Road, and soon reaches the alpaca farm of Anne and Richard Phillips. The Phillips’ flock of almost 150 alpacas can be seen grazing near the road almost any time of year. The large red barn, which looks brand new but has stood through 125 years, is used only for storing equipment, Anne told me. Alpacas become ill in enclosed spaces and do better under simple three-sided shelters.

I had met Anne at the Estes Park Wool Market last month. Her unique jackets of felted alpaca and silk had swung gently as she hung them from rods above her booth so they could be seen on all sides. She invited me to visit the farm – the home of Prairie Moon Alpacas – to see her studio and learn how she made her colorful jackets. Continue reading

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Wandering the Estes Park Wool Market, Gathering an Education in Fiber Arts

Wool vest by Una Walker

This wool vest made by Una Walker was on display at Estes Park Wool Market last month.

From raw, recently shorn wool to wearable wool art, I saw all the products that anyone who loves fiber might want at this year’s Estes Park Wool Market. While I was searching for Front Range artisans to feature on this blog, I met several who had come from farther away. What they taught me on the spot was fascinating – so much so that I pulled out my notebook and camera and tucked away my Front Range criteria.

First was Una Walker, California owner of Wooly Walkers, who made the vest pictured here. Punch needle rug hooking is Una’s business – she sells supplies, designs patterns, teaches workshops, and creates handbags, cushions, and anything else suitable to the heft and durability of a hooked rug weight. Continue reading

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Tapestry Goes Contemporary in the Hands of Fiber Artist David Johnson

Tapestry. If you’re like me, the term conjures up mental images of slightly faded Renaissance scenes on giant fabric wall hangings in museums and old mansions.

Visit the new tapestry exhibition on the sixth floor of the Denver Art Museum, however, and you may find, as I have, that those mental images start to fray. Creative Crossroads: The Art of Tapestry includes two tapestries that fit that stereotype. Nonetheless, the exhibition has numerous other pieces that are quintessentially contemporary art.

"Transformation" by David Johnson of Thornton, Colorado

How contemporary can a tapestry be? This 4′ x 4′ work by fiber artist David Johnson suggests the answer. “Extreme Fibers,” formerly titled “Transformation,” will hang in the Muskegon Museum of Art this summer as part of its “Icons in Fiber and Textiles” exhibition. (Photo provided by D. Johnson)

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The Ancient Japanese Craft of Temari Inspires Fiber Artist Becky Margenau

temari balls by Becky Margenau

Intricate geometric designs stitched by Becky Margenau draw customers to her temari balls at Trimble Court Artisans in Fort Collins

Stitching has been a lifelong passion of Fort Collins artisan Becky Margenau. Fifteen years ago, after finishing hundreds of quilts by hand, Becky ran across a book with instructions on temari, a fiber craft that started developing 1400 years ago in Asia and now draws worldwide interest.

Becky soon discovered that stitching the colorful, intricate designs which are the hallmark of temari provided her with the same level of relaxation and pleasure that she had enjoyed in hand quilting. Just as temari evolved in Japan from a soft toy ball for children to a treasured gift for adults, temari in Becky’s studio has taken on new shapes and new functions over the years since she made her first temari ball. Continue reading

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