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Donna Stockdale :: Q&A with a Felt Artist

Updated: Nov 5, 2021

Donna Stockdale is a quilt maker, mixed media artist, and felt maker who lives La Ronge, Saskatchewan.

Donna is inspired by the colours, textures, and beauty of the environment near her home. We hope you will enjoy learning about her creative practice as much as we have.

Donna is a member of the Saskatchewan Craft Council:

How did you discover felt making? My friend Cindy Obuck introduced me to felt making in 2010. She invited me to a wonderful workshop with Andrea Graham at Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan.

Was it love at first sight?

Yes! I quickly discovered the versatility of felt to make 2D and 3D landscapes, vessels and items to wear.

Music or no music while you work ? If so what kind of music?

I need a quiet space to concentrate on the design and logistics of making a piece. Once I am into the construction phase, I might listen to a variety of music – classical, ethnic, folk, blues, but mostly I listen to CBC radio, or a podcast or an audible book. The stories and conversation help me stay in my studio, and not be distracted by my thoughts or daily life.

Where do you find inspiration? 

We live beside a lake in the forest and precambrian shield country of northern Saskatchewan. It’s a wild, dramatic environment with infinitely diverse surprises. I am also curious about the human condition – ideas about life, love, loss, relationship are showing up in my work.

Do you teach? 

Not yet – but I plan to start with some small classes in the next year (2017), hoping to spread the joy!

Who is your favorite artist? Some of my favourite artists are Andrea Hunter, who creates pictures in felt of her surroundings in Yorkshire, UK; Marjolien Dallinga, with her poetic approach to felt making, emphasizing colour, texture and form; Emily Carr for both her paintings and autobiographical writing; Mary Oliver, an American poet.

Do you have your early work? 

I have some of the first pieces I ever made – either because they turned out well, or because they didn’t.

What would you say to fibre artists just starting out? 

It helps to really love what you are doing to put in all the time it takes to create in fibre. Explore the variety of techniques and tools, but pick a path. Search out teachers who will help you learn what you need to learn. Find or create an art community – creating is solitary work, but it is refreshing to share experiences other artists.

Are you a perfectionist? 

Yes, when it makes a difference, I prefer to work to the best of my ability. Perfectionism is a relative term…

What is your philosophy about creating? 

Human beings by nature are creative, although not everyone is driven to create. For me, creating is a necessary part of a satisfying life – whether it’s to fill a practical need, a way to work out and communicate ideas and feelings, to rise to the challenge of bringing something new into the world, or, as Martha Cole would say, to ‘Just respond’.

Have you ever gone through a dry spell or felt blocked? What did you do to get restarted? 

To get restarted after a break, I go into my studio, shut the door, make a list and put deadlines on my calendar. Deadlines are my best motivator, along with regularly showing up to work.

What is the best workshop you’ve ever taken? 

I have taken many workshops – the best are those taken with friends.

If you weren’t a fibre artist you’d be…? 

I would do something else with my hands – maybe a chef, a photographer, or a writer…

Describe the space you create in… 

I have a dedicated room upstairs in our home, with all the essentials and more. Is it possible to be a minimalist and a fibre artist? There is a sink and cupboard; a drafting table for creating smaller pieces; a large desk; an old library card unit, shelves and bins for wool, fibres, books and other supplies. It is a peaceful, cozy space, with a high peaked ceiling and two north facing windows overlooking the road and forest beyond. The large peninsula in my kitchen works well for making larger pieces.

Do you have an upcoming exhibition? 

I am working on entries for some group exhibitions for 2017.

What are you working on now? 

I have been experimenting with 3D forms – hollow vessels, solid forms and some jewellery.

Your favourite fibre? 

A custom blended mixture of wool and silk

Your favourite tool?

My drum carder – I love blending a variety of fibres and colours to create new materials to felt.

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