Updated: Nov 5, 2021
Meet fibre artist, Heike Fink. We are thrilled she agreed to take part in our Q&A.
How did you discover felt making?
I first learned felting in Germany from a friend, who had taken a felting class. It was back in 2004, when felting started to become more well known in Europe.
Was it love at first sight?
Yes, it was. I clearly remember the day my friend introduced me to felting. I first felted a ball, then a mouse, a seal and a polar bear. Basically, I learned felting the hard way. It’s pretty tough to wet felt animals without felting experience. During the process I had that, this will never work out feeling but the experience of it working out was highly motivating. I was also really fascinated by how I could bring those animals to life from just some wool bits. Once I started wet felting two-dimensional pieces, it seemed much easier compared to the three-dimensional felting of the animals.
Where do you find inspiration?
Mostly from nature, natural structures, colours, other artists, books, online.
Do you teach? If so what do you enjoy about that?
I only teach classes very occasionally and I mostly like teaching in schools. But I do love facilitating public felting projects, which of course also involve the teaching of basic felting skills.
I have facilitated workshops during Culture Days, for the Saskatchewan Arts Board as well as public art projects for the Placemaker Program of the City of Saskatoon. For the Placemaker projects participants created felted objects in public workshops and I installed all the pieces together in one public art piece.
My project last summer was called “Catch YOUR dream”. People created felted beads, which were combined in a web-like “dreamcatcher” in a tree. People were encouraged to think about their very personal dreams for reconciliation and to embed those thought in their felted beads.
I really enjoy working with the public to create collaborative art pieces. It is fun to share the joy of felting with new felters and notice their sense wonder when they discover how magically felting works.
Who is your favorite artist?
All good felting artists.
Do you have your early work?
I’ve kept some pieces, which were important to me. I still have that very first polar bear from my first felting day. And I have a wall hanging, made on a day, when I started to think about my desire to become an artist. I also have my first nuno felted scarf, which in the end became a wall hanging. It was way too heavy and sturdy to be used as a scarf and most of the silk was drowned deep into wool, no longer recognizable.
What would you say to fibre artists just starting out?
Felting is very addictive, time consuming and lots of fun. Don’t be scared to experiment, even if your piece does not turn out how you planned it. Felted pieces can always be altered and rescued and remain beautiful in the end.
What is your philosophy about creating?
I think creating is a basic human need, in one way or another. If we are not able to follow a path of creation in our lives, we are not living to the fullest. That does not mean that everybody has to be an artist, but everybody needs a creative outlet in some way.
I do not plan very much, when I start my felting creations. I have a basic idea and start the process and go with the flow. I don’t like making samples and dealing with measurements, etc. This sometimes creates problems, but I have more fun that way.
What is the best workshop you’ve ever taken?
I am mostly self-taught. Altogether I’ve taken two felting classes. The first workshop was with Andrea Graham in 2009 and the other one was at this year’s Canadian Felting Symposium 2016 with Charlotte Sehmisch. I enjoyed both classes, but think the workshop with Charlotte was especially valuable, since I learned techniques which I could not have figured out by myself. While I like to experiment by myself, I am planning to take more workshops in the future to increase my felting practise and exchange experience with other felt makers.
Describe the space you create in…
I don’t have a studio, my “dining room” is my studio and basically I work in my whole home. There is not really a place where I have not found some little wool bits over the time (including inside the freezer).
Do you have an upcoming exhibition?
Yes, I will have an exhibition in June Jacobs Handwave Gallery http://www.handwave.ca in Meacham some time in 2017. The exhibition will be a joined show with my artist friend Mary Romanuck, who is a printmaker. The theme will be animals, since we both bonded over our love for creating animals.
What are you working on now?
I am preparing for my upcoming show and some other exhibition entries. Collecting ideas and materials, but have not actually started any pieces yet. I’m looking forward to having time for more artful creations, as I do quite a lot of production work during the Christmas season for fine craft markets, which at times can be a bit monotonous. I’m also eager to create a piece using the techniques I learned in Charlotte’s workshop.
Your favourite fibre?
For nuno felting and finer pieces I love a mixture of merino wool and tencel. For sturdier pieces and needle felting I often work with Bergschafwolle (mountain sheep wool).
Your favourite tool?
My hands. I really like the feeling of touching and rubbing my pieces while felting, preferably with no mesh or plastic in between my hands and the soapy wool.
My second favourite tool is the felting needle, which I find amazing, since it is such a small handy tool, yet it helps to create small or large creations with amazing details. Plus you can have it with you anywhere.