Carolfaye Meadows has a way with words—she’s gifted in her interesting dialogue and style of delivery. I’ve always enjoyed our conversations because she’s funny and sincere and to the point. Her felted art handbags reflect those same fresh qualities. Carolfaye does nothing by half. She jokes that she began her ‘artistic expression’ as a child creating clothes for her Barbie dolls; not the simple tunic or shift (like mine?) but skirts with full box pleats and set-in waistbands! Confessing she’s an ‘i’s dotted, T’s crossed’ process person with a creative flair, she admits she’s more comfortable with a Franklin planner than a blank page of journaling paper. (I, too, have that same affliction.)
Carolfaye’s projects focus on making felted handbags. Her creativity is completely unlimited but she doesn’t feel compelled to branch out into wall hangings or sweaters or socks. She claims she only knows the humble knit stitch so she creates her base fabric where most felted hand bags begin their journey; knitting in the round to create a stockinet stitch tube. So where does the wonder begin for a Carolfaye Original? She does not work from a pattern, so her first steps are to choose fibers and color. Visualizing combinations of colors Carolfaye then has the huge task of replicating what is in her mind’s eye. Drawn to the depth and dimension of fiber, Carolfaye prefers hand dyed fine wool yarns and some novelty fibers.
Each bag made by Carolfaye is as lovely on the inside as it is amazing on the outside. The creation of a felted handbag follows a certain process that is familiar to many fiber artists, but Carolfaye’s superior skill with the process of felting wool puts her in a professional category (and supreme knowledge of the idiosyncrasies of her top loader washer doesn’t hurt either). Joking aside, all of the dimensional embellishments she adds to her bags really pop but they need a smooth base fabric to form a contrast. There’s a fine line between felting the fabric too much and not enough; this is one area that makes each of her bags such a standout.
Once the construction of the bag is complete, knit, felted and shaped, CarolFaye says its’ true personality shows through. The finishing details such as lining fabric, buttons, beads and surface accoutrements are selected with its personality in mind. CarolFaye says her bags are distinctly female and the embellishments are created depending upon whether or not SHE is feeling fierce and bold or calm but challenging.
Carolfaye makes bags between a busy work schedule and spending time with her beloved parents. She doesn’t sell online, only through the grapevine. Carolfaye lives in the Twin Cities and besides spending a delightful five years working at the Textile Center as Gift Shop Manager, she spent her career in corporate Human Resources.