Scribble Artist Interview with Sharron Parker!
Scribble Town (ST): When Andi, aka Chief Scribbler, met Sharron Parker at the recent Architectural Digest Home Design Show in New York City she was amazed at how felt could be manipulated in such amazing ways. We are lucky to have Sharron share with the Scribble Blog about her craft. Sharron, where are you and what are you up to these days?
Sharron Parker (SP): I live and work in Wake Forest, North Carolina, in an old stone mill on the Neuse River. Since the mill was once a textile mill, I feel I am continuing that tradition with my textile studio there.
ST: Not only are you continuing the tradition, but to be surrounded by such beautiful nature explains how your fiberworks resemble your environment. When did you start creating with felt and what piqued your interest?
SP: After being a weaver and trying other textile techniques, I discovered handmade felt over 30 years ago, when I saw 2500-year-old pieces of felt that had been found in Siberian tombs. I learned that the technique is the oldest way to make cloth, dating to the Stone Age. Basically, you shrink and lock wool fibers by using moisture, heat, and pressure. Nomadic people did things like dragging the wool in a roll behind their horse, but I just press on the wool in hot water in my sink or bathtub.
ST: I’m so interested in your fiber technique! You explain it really well here, but we are eager to learn more.
SP: This is called “wet felting” and is different from “needle felting” where you use barbed needles to tangle fibers – which I do occasionally. I work with dyed, unspun wool or roving since I like to work with color. It’s something like “painting” with wool: I comb and layer several background layers, and then arrange the dyed wool wherever I want, often in thin watercolor-like layers. Lines can be created by using wool yarns, and more texture can be achieved by using wool curls, etc. After making a piece of felt, I can stitch more onto the surface, sew pieces together, etc.
ST: On your website you have a picture of yourself and a tiger. Is that real?! It’s a beautiful picture and we’d like to know more about it.
SP: The tiger photo in my artist profile was taken when I was a volunteer at a tiger rescue preserve; I had been bottle-feeding a baby tiger for several weeks. Maybe not surprisingly, tiger-like stripes appeared in my work after that (see Madagascar Moth detail).
ST: Wow! With such adventures in life you are sure to find inspiration around every corner. Is there a particular place or environment you find yourself feeling really inspired to create? The categories on your site are Earth, Light, Living Things, and Color. Perhaps these are a window to your points of inspiration.
SP: Ideas come from lots that I see in the world around me – rocks, shells, bird wings (see Raku Flight), flowers (see Rose Petal Screen), sunsets, and more. And, of course, the river and rapids right outside my windows. The view of trees outside my window, and the river mists behind them, can be seen in the triptych Intertwined.
SP: For those who want to try wet felting, there are a number of books available. Or my specific techniques can be seen on a DVD called Teach + Learn, Volume 2, available through the Surface Design Association. My website “News” also lists workshops I will be teaching.
ST: Thank you Sharron! Nature in itself is a point of inspiration and your artwork add to the cycle. To get started with your own felting supplies please go to Scribble Shop.