Joan Berner Textiles
When I start to make a felted piece I first decide on the design and then work like a painter. I seek out potential materials that I think will carry the design. It is similar to a painter with a palette. I choose different colors, types of fiber, and pieces of silk. I line them up so I can see my choices and then go to work.
I just love fiber - the way it takes color, the way you can blend it with another type of fiber or color for a new look. I particularly enjoy the feel of wool fiber in my hands. It is soft and pliable. It gives me peace and feeds my soul.
Weaving is so different from felting, almost the exact opposite. For me felting is intuitive, a color and texture study, uneven borders. As you are working you can easily make changes and make more changes. Weaving is precise, what you plan for is what you get. Your thread choice is done, your sett (how close together your threads are) is done, the type of yarn you will use is threaded and the pattern was chosen when you threaded the heddles on the loom. You can change the weft thread, you can change its color but the choices on the warp can only be changed if you take it all out and thread again. Weaving is rhythmic, grows in front of your very eyes and creates predetermined patterns. Almost all of the choices are made before you even start weaving. It makes it freeing to just weave and weave and weave.
SUSTAINABILITY and COMMUNITY
The materials used for felting are readily available - wool, soap and lots of energy. Wool is such a renewable resources with little processing needed (water and soap) it is a great starting material. Dyeing uses 5% vinegar solution, and with proper dyeing techniques the dye is completely absorbed into the material and the dye bath becomes clear and can be used again and again.
Our community has a number of thrift stores to help residents. There are lots of found materials, particularly scarves that are appropriate for felt making. It is my first choice for materials. I will donate 20% of proceeds for pieces that are made primarily from raw materials purchased through these stores.