One beautiful piece of wool or silk can be the inspiration for a new project. While growing up in rural Maine I was surrounded by old quilts, and hooked and braided rugs. They were all hand made, unique, and were created by women for their homes and families. That sense of history as well as female expression resonated with me. Now, when I create things, ﬁber is the right medi-um for me. I love the texture of it and the patterns created by using different pieces of wool or silk. Sometimes the fabric I choose is from old clothes that I use “as is” or that I over-dye to cre-ate the color I seek. The clothing itself can have meaning because of its origins. Wool plaids when hooked can look like bird feathers or tree bark or stones and I imagine the original design-ers of the wool patterns thought of their natural world when they made them. I also dye plain wool to create a desired color or I playfully dye and come out with new colors that send me off on my next project.
A major focus in my life is nature and biology. I spent many years as a teacher and lab scientist. I’ve also committed much of my time to environmental works. Trying to understand nature, its complexity and how humans affect and are affected by the greater natural world is fascinating to me. I ﬁnd nature to be mysterious, beautiful, surprising, and essentially ineffable but that does not stop me from trying to understand it. I use my art to experiment and explore both the ﬁber medium I have chosen and the natural world. The scientist in me is always trying to ﬁnd an-swers. The current demise of our natural world including the rapid decline in bird species is deeply sad to me but as an optimist I retain hope that there will be places left for them. But just in case I create magical places in my work and imagine them there. I see my emotions about the world reﬂected in all of my work. Some of my pieces start with just a color and a shape from which I build and other work begins with an image I like. I do not have a single formula and I do not understand what motivates me to choose at the time I begin. It just happens.
My hooked art is made by cutting fabric into strips and then pulling those strips through a loose-ly woven cotton or linen backing using a simple tool. How one pulls the fabric through creates different effects as does the width of the wool strips and the type of fabric used. I prefer wool but I also use nylon and silk. The loops rest against each other and stay in place though they are not knotted. Raw, un-spun wool and silk are arranged and layered before being wetted and massaged into felt. I use both hooking and felting in my work. The textures created by each are quite dif-ferent. Felting is much more serendipitous than hooking though I have been experimenting with hooking more freely. Hooking is a very slow process and a twelve inch square piece can take up to 16 hours to make depending on the complexity of the design and the width of the wool strip. Felting is quicker but more physically demanding. I like how they complement one another.