Updated: Nov 9, 2021
Our latest Q&A is with Judith Dios, a fibre artist, who lives on Salt Spring Island where she works and teaches from her studio. Her passion for exploration and innovation has led her to create ethereal Nuno felted pieces with textural and surface effects. She strives to create pieces that make women feel beautiful.
We hope you will enjoy learning about Judith’s creative process as much as we did. We are grateful she took the time to share her thoughts with us.
How did you discover felt making? My children had gone off to college and I felt that it was my turn to “bloom.” However, I had no notion of what blooming should look like! One day, I visited a friend at her boutique and she excitedly told me about “nuno felting.” It was gauzy… and ethereal… and sheer and… it was felt? I couldn’t reconcile all these descriptive images in my mind! She told me to check out a website called “sugarplumoriginals.” (A little voice inside told me to be sure to do what she said!) The website turned out to be Jean Gauger’s work.
Was it love at first sight?
Jean’s work took my breath away and I was instantly and completely captivated! I’ve been obsessed with feltmaking since!
Music or no music while you work ? If so what kind of music?
Usually, no music because I like to get carried away in my mind with no distractions. When I do play music, it is classical guitar, which also carries me away.
Your favorite fibre?
Silk, silk and more silk! I’m in love with the shimmer and the way it dances with the wool.
Where do you find inspiration?
Colour, texture, shapes and patterns are everywhere! Often, one piece will inspire another, because I like to experiment with variations of a theme.
Do you teach? If so what do you enjoy about that?
Yes, I love teaching. I realized after I had been teaching for a couple of years that my new found happiness wasn’t the result of creating (although I love being creative), it is the connection with the people that felting brings into my life that brings happiness. Through teaching, I’ve met all kinds of people I wouldn’t have met otherwise if it hadn’t been for the shared passion for felt making that brought us together.
Who is your favorite artist? This can be another fibre artist or just any artist you admire.
I had the opportunity to visit Barcelona earlier this year and when I entered Antonio Gaudi’s Sagreda Familia, I was moved to tears by the beauty. He was an artist who broke with convention of his time and wasn’t afraid to be bold. The lesson I came away with is to hold nothing back.
Do you have your early work?
Yes, a few pieces that I keep as a reminder of my journey including some that didn’t succeed. When the time is right, I will revisit them.
What would you say to fibre artists just starting out?
“Don’t be afraid” and “set yourself apart.” In the early days, I worried about being able to succeed as an artist, but have followed the career of a dear friend, Elizabeth St. Hilaire. In the beginning, she wasn’t selling as many paintings as she would have liked. Then, she began to add bits of torn paper to her artwork. This set her apart from the other artists and she began to sell more paintings. Elizabeth kept creating because she loved it and didn’t give up when times were tough. She is now a very successful collage artist and was an example of how to persevere, and then, succeed. Also, I would advise new fibre artists to take a workshop with an experienced teacher. This was very beneficial for me when I was first starting out. A teacher has many years of successes and failures and teaches from her experience. You will gain a “shortcut” and advance your knowledge and level of feltmaking.
Are you a perfectionist?
Yes, but due to the fact that nuno felting is organic in nature, I have learned to relinquish control and trust the process. This has been therapeutic for me and I am finding this lesson is beneficial when applied to other areas of my life.
What is your philosophy about creating?
When I am creating I feel as if the creativity flows though me, but is not of me. Therefore, I cannot claim it as my own. In addition, I view art as simply a tool to connect with others. This keeps the role of art in my life in proper perspective and proportion.
Have you ever gone through a dry spell or felt blocked?
Yes, it happens from time to time. When it does, I walk away from the studio and do something different to clear my head. For example, I’ll go for hikes, or weave something at my friend’s Saori weaving studio, or immerse myself in the garden. Soon though, a project will begin to develop in my mind and I am eager to return to the studio so it can be “born.”
What is the best workshop you’ve ever taken?
I was able to take a workshop with Jean Gauger soon after I began felting. Until then I had gathered bits of instruction from the Internet, but I felt like I was missing something important. I was! None of the Internet sources had mentioned fulling! In Jean’s workshop I learned how to lay silk fabric onto wool and to felt the proper way, to include fulling.
Describe the space you create in…
For many years, I worked in a small room, just large enough for a 6’ table and my materials were scattered in cabinets and bins throughout the house. Two years ago, I moved into a spacious studio on the edge of a forest that allows me to have all of my materials on display on shelves around the perimeter of the room. This is important because the materials inspire me. There is room to accommodate as many as 8 students, so I am able to hold workshops there. Mementos, including several pieces of art, from my teaching travels decorate the walls. I am so very grateful to be able to work in such a wonderful space.
What are you working on now?
My 8-year-old granddaughter recently saw one of the dresses I made. She asked “Nana, do you make dresses for little girls?” So, you can guess what’s on my felting table at the moment!
To learn more about Judith::