Updated: Oct 27, 2021
Meet felt :: feutre canada member, Monika Schaefer, potter and felt artist. Monica’s work can be found in private collections in Canada, the US and Europe.
Recently we asked Monika what inspired the work in What Lies Beneath?
Many people close to me suffer from, or have suffered from, depression. It is very difficult to understand for any who are not afflicted with this debilitating illness. Although I see the effects first-hand in those I love, I personally do not suffer from depression and can really only imagine what those who do have to deal with.
Colour has always elicited an emotional response from me. I have chosen to interpret my view of depression through the mixing of colour, rising and falling emotions conveyed through the use of light and dark wool & silk fibres, from soft pastels to searing reds to brooding deep hues, letting them interweave in the felting process, similar to the mingling of complex feelings and emotions. Rips in the surface fabric often reveal the turmoil beneath.
Some of my pieces incorporate shards of vitrified unglazed clay, some incorporated right into the felt and others that have fallen to ground below the tapestries. This, to me, represents those parts of being that are so broken from the experience that they have just fallen off, or perhaps purposely discarded in hopes that healing may begin.
Being an optimist at heart, I have incorporated light colours in each piece in a hope to convey that there should always be hope and out of darkness, courage will bring light. It is a journey.
What Lies Beneath will be on exhibit in Milton Hall at the Town of Milton until May 30. I am hoping that I can find other venues across Canada to exhibit these works to help continue the conversation on depression (If any of you out there have a suitable venue, please let me know!).
What led you to felting? Who taught you?
This is a funny story actually (Well, I find it amusing, anyway). I have been a potter for over 20 years. About 8 years ago, my very good friend and also a potter, Lou Hanson, called me up one day to say that a local felter, Sue Firkser, was holding a felting workshop that weekend in Dundas, Ontario and that she had always wanted to try felting and that Sue had spots in her workshop. “Great!” I said, “I’m sure you’ll have fun!”
Then she said, “Well, I’m not taking it alone! You have to come with me.” I had NO interest in felting as all I really knew about felting was felt hats. I don’t like hats, I don’t wear hats, I had no interest in making hats. Lou assured me that there would be no hats involved and finally convinced me to go.
Well, what a revelation! We made a wet-felted tapestry, a wet-felted purse over a resist, and began a needle felted 2D piece, all in our one-day workshop. By the end of the day, I was completely hooked! I went home with about $60 worth of roving and I’ve never looked back. I think what got me so hooked was the immediacy of the art form. You can make a basic piece of felt in minutes, a tapestry in a few hours! Pottery, by comparison, takes so much longer – sometimes months – before the end result is in hand, so the appeal of almost instant gratification of felt was, and still is, quite seductive and exciting.
What are you currently working on?
I have just finished a mixed media piece for a show coming up in Burlington in a few weeks. My piece is a goat, or rather the front half of a goat, life size, made from clay, copper wire, and covered in a felted “coat”. It was a complicated piece to make, to marry the three very disparate materials.
I first created the head out of clay as it would shrink during the firing and I would need to have the final size before attaching the copper wire body frame and horns. The last, but very important, step was adding the wet felted hide to the body; the wet and needle felted hair between the ears; and the beard of locks, lightly needle felted together at the top and inserted into a gap in the clay in the chin.
The annual All Guilds Exhibition that opens at the Art Gallery of Burlington on April 20th and runs to May 19th, with the opening reception on April 26 from 6-9pm. My goat will be on display in the Lee Chin Gallery at the AGB.
Aside from that, I teach felting classes & workshops and I am making felted works for my annual Garden Art Show and Sale in my Studio in Carlisle on June 1 & 2. I have the type of personality where I can’t just sit still. My hands are always busy making. Makers gotta make!
Look for Monica at the following Events:
All Guilds Show Exhibition runs from April 20 – May 19, 2019 Opening Reception: April 26, from 6-9pm Art Gallery of Burlington, 1333 Lakeshore Road, Burlington, ON
Monika’s Annual Garden Art Show and Sale, Saturday & Sunday, June 1 & 2, 10am-5pm Her 15th annual garden show and sale in her backyard and studio with guest artists:
Lou Hanson, potter. Lou has whimsical garden totems, and gorgeous floral blessing bowls.
Angie Turkulja, the Artful Blingster, creates handcrafted, one-of-a-kind jewellery, with the focus on creating something that is as strikingly unique and versatile as the woman who will wear it.
Carmen Nistor Caldwell creates fabulous upcycled purses and aprons from bluejeans and mens’ suits. They’re practical and super fun!
For more info about Monika visit: www.monikaschaefer.com/upcoming-events
Check out these fabulous workshops with Monica:
Learn to Wet Felt Workshop Friday, April 12, 1:30-4:30pm
Felted Tapestry Workshop Saturday, April 13, 1:30-4:30pm
Felted Tapestry Workshop Wednesday, April 17, 1:30-4:30pm
Learn to Wet Felt Workshop Saturday, April 20, 1:30-4:30pm
Nuno Felted Scarf Workshop Saturday, April 20, 6:30-9:30pm
Nuno Felted Scarf Workshop Wednesday, April 24 1:30-4:30pm
3D Needle Felted Critter Workshop Saturday, April 27, 10am-4pm
Felted Jewellery Workshop Sunday, April 28, 10am-4pm