Felted Wool

The signature material in Jennifer’s fiber art is wool, specifically felted or fulled. Felting means that wool fibers are agitated with heat, water or motion so that they lock together into a dense fabric. Fulling means that a wool fabric, be it woven or knit, has been agitated with water, resulting in a dense fabric. Jennifer’s artwork represents many steps and hours, from the sheep to the finished piece. The felted wool comes from two main processes.

Knit Felt

Knit felting is made from yarn Jen has handspun and knit, which is then fulled to make a felted fabric or element. Old sweaters and woven wool fabric are also fulled to make felted fabric.

Felted Fleece

Felted fleece is made with a machine that has barbed felting needles that rapidly pierce and lock together loose wool fibers or batts of carded wool.This machine also allows Jen to embellish existing woven fabrics, as a surface treatment.Sheprimarily uses hand dyed and spun wool, that often begins as dirty, shorn fleece. Fiber culled from the preparation for spinning yarn are used in making felted fleece.

One unique technique is “reverse felting” in which the felting machine makes “lines” by felting through the batting, poking fiber through the base, woven fabric. This technique is done blindly, as the side which Jen can see as she works, will be the back or inner batting.

Backgrounds and specific visual elements are made from these two main processes. Naturally one artwork can contain elements of both kinds of felting. Machine and hand stitching and quilting combine the felted elements and background fabric into at least two layers as “art quilt,” whether it is displayed on the wall or as freestanding art.

Embellishment, specifically surface design, is the second characteristic element in Jennifer’s work. Stenciling, stamping and other paint techniques allow her to both highlight and unify the fiber elements. Embroidery, beading and found objects are selectively used, as is the use of a wood-burning tool to expose and alter layers.

Jennifer has uniquely explored this burning technique, which allows a layer of thin, semi-transparent fabric to be controlled more finely than through traditional applique.

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