Sandra Wysock

Madison, WI

Sandra Wysock

Felted Landscapes

I am a self taught textile artist specializing in creating art using handmade felt. I use various felting techniques but my work is primarily wet felt which means the felt is created using hot water and friction. Needle felt, or punching with dry wool is used primarily in my smaller pieces or as an accent in my major pieces.

It is assumed that the felting process was developed by the ancient tribes of Asia where felt making provided everything from clothing and housing to religious artifacts. My art is a marriage of images from nature with ancient felting techniques. Using my own photographs for inspiration, I take small tufts and strands of various types of wool, silk, bamboo, linen and other fibers and lay them out to create an image. I work entirely freehand trying to anticipate how the felting process will fuse the fibers and calculating shrinkage. Additional thin layers of wool fiber across the back provide a consistent thickness and fully connect all the components. I then begin the felting process.  First I apply hot water which opens the barbs on the fibers and then I begin to apply friction using felting tools, felting needles and/or bubble wrap. When the piece is completely matted and felted I allow it to dry.  Felting shrinks the piece by 30-50%.  If additional detail or definition is needed I add with needle felt.

My art walks the fine edge between creative control and serendipity. It is the uncertainty and surprises that engage me.  Lawrence Block has said: “Serendipity is looking for something, finding something else, and realizing that what you’ve found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you were looking for”.  Felting causes the fibers blend and roam. Edges and colors soften creating a one of a kind piece with a feel that has been compared to a watercolor or pastel. Detail can appear or disappear and the roaming fibers create complex patterns and textures that I could never create in another way.   And so, goes my life as an artist creating in felt.

I am inspired by landscapes with rolling hills and the beauty of the flowers in my garden.   I was raised in Iowa near the Mississippi River where every landscape contains a patchwork of fields with shades of green and fabulous fall colors. The patterns of the fields often appear in my art.   As a master gardener, I also find beauty in my garden.  I create my images free hand before felting.  The felting process softens and blends the images to create work that has been compared to pastels.

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