Submitted by: Maia Stark, Gallery Assistant
Let’s talk about our feelings. Well, actually, I’d like to talk about feltings and fullings—the pun was well worth it, wasn’t it? Felting is a process that occurs when fibers are physically agitated, so that they seem to knit themselves together. Microscopic scales cover filaments of animal hair (wool, for example), and these scales swell open when agitated, causing filaments to interlock with each other. This agitation can occur through physical agitation, moistness, or changes in the pH of the fibers from using soap.[i] Felt is known to be one of the oldest fabrics known to humankind, as anthropologists have found artifacts of felted materials dating back to 500BC! The characteristics of felt being strong but light, and water and wind-resistant at certain thicknesses made it the perfect choice for tents and clothing for nomadic groups.[ii]
|Neck warmer with button, detail, Cindy Obuck, (SCC Boutique).|
There are many ways to felt wool, but there are two main distinctions: wet felting and dry felting. Dry felting requires the use of a felting needle, which has barbs cut into its metal shaft allowing the needle to snag and intertwine filaments.[iii] Wet felting uses heat, moisture, and agitation to turn the loose wool fibers into felt. For example, some artists compress the wool with soapy water, then roll the wool sheet in bubble wrap or thermal wrap, and use a combination of rolling, throwing, and kneading over hours to create a good quality dense felt: a very laborious process![iv] It’s important to note that “felting” is quite different from “fulling.” Felting uses raw wool, while fulling is a process applied to wool that has already been treated in a particular way; fulling is the process of fluffing up an already woven or knitted piece of woven cloth, while felting does not use any sort of weaving process for initial structure.[v]
Cindy Obuck, a professional craftsperson with the Saskatchewan Craft Council, was always interested in art but never investigated it outside her qualifications as a graphic designer until discovering felting. Self-taught, Obuck mostly uses welt felting and needle felting, and even quilting techniques to create her unique wall hangings and wool sculptures.[vi]
|“Anemone Delight,” Cindy Obuck, 2013 (cindyobuck.com).|
|“Prince,” mONsTer pODs, Cindy Obuck (cindyobuck.com).|
Obuck has a sensitive approach to her work, creating subtle variations in tone and hue. The range of her work is impressive as well, from comical monsters to beautiful neck-warmers with buttons, and sturdy purses with leather straps. Despite the various incarnations, each piece Obuck makes incorporates her signature whimsical style.
|Neck warmer with button, Cindy Obuck (SCC Boutique).|
If you are interested in purchasing one of Cindy Obuck’s pieces, or seeing what other fabulous work we have in store, please visit the SCC Fine Craft Boutique, located in the Saskatchewan Craft Council’s Affinity Gallery at 813 Broadway Avenue, Saskatoon, SK.