Marjolaine Arsenault :: Q&A with a Fibre Artist
Updated: Nov 5, 2021
Marjolaine Arsenault of Marjolaine’s Touch: Wearable Art of Nuno Felt is s a feltmaker/fibre artist fascinated by the creative process of making seamless nuno felt garments. Her work is known for its bright colours, incredible lines and beauty.
A Canadian, she now lives in the States. Marjolaine grew up in Gaspésie, right on the ocean. A setting she describes as a “peaceful and quiet place to dream. The infinite and meditative sighting of the ocean, the cool wind upon my face, and the sound of the crashing waves and seagulls in the background are the elements that revive me most. They are a great source of inspiration for me, still today.”
For Marjolaine, nature is a deep place of inspiration, from the ocean to the depth of the forest in the Adirondack Mountains where she now lives. When hiking she loves looking at the patterns and colors found in rocks and in the foliage. She says, “This is what I bring home with me in my studio and create from.”
Before moving to the USA in 1984, Marjolaine studied and lived in Montréal for 4 years. Today it still feels like home when she returns there. She says, “It is a wonderful city immersed by creative energy, beauty and liveliness. And of course the food is amazing!”
How did you discover felt making? I discovered felt making in 2009 during a craft circle gathering of friends where we made a felted hat. A few months later, two of my girlfriends invited me to join them and learn about nuno felt. They had taken a workshop at the nearby Lucky Stone Studio and they were sharing their new passion with me. It was love at first sight! The combination of wool and silk to create a light weight fabric offered to me a limitless potential for creativity. Very quickly I wanted to learn everything about it.
This was the beginning of a long journey of learning from various international teachers. Polly Sterling, Charity Musoma van Der Meer, Inge Bauer and Linda Veilleux are just a few to mention. My interest went quickly toward the seamless garment making. The seamless, nuno felt making has a sculptural quality that attracts me. My mother and grandmother were both seamstresses and made a career from it. My mother had a great sense of fashion and she gave me that passion. I learned weaving from her when I was young and I always enjoyed creating with my hands.
In your artist statement, you mention that your work is influenced by a love of gardening and nature, but I noticed you worked as a graphic designer for many years. How does this influence your work?
My background as a graphic designer is reflected in my understanding of colours and shapes. Composition, colour harmony and texture are integral to every creation. In every season I find myself attracted to certain colours, not necessarily with the fashion trend but more with my own inspiration and my surrounding. I hand dye all my silk to have control on my colour palette.
The garments on your website are very dramatic and cutting edge. When you create are you thinking about fashion? And wearability?
I like to drape the body with beauty and grace. My garments are practical and unique at the same time. I like to play with clothing and many of them offer a multitude of ways to be worn. Clothing should be fun and playful and that is what I try to create. Each garment is truly a piece of wearable art. I pay some attention to the fashion trends but I mostly listen to what is inside me, to my heart and to what makes me smile. I like to create garments and accessories that make women feel happy. In the deepest part of the fibres, each piece is made with love. I sell mostly at various fine craft shows and I really enjoy meeting people and help them find just the perfect piece for them.
Do you give workshops? What do you enjoy most about this?
I love teaching workshops. It is an opportunity to share with others the knowledge gained over the years as a designer and as a fibre artist. At this point in my life, I am called to do more teaching because I love to inspire others and help them find the source of their creativity. After many years of producing and participating at various fine craft shows, I hope to expand my teaching into new horizons.
What are you working on now? What are your influences?
Just recently I completed a collection of “Dancing Dresses” for a fashion show presented last month at the State Museum in Albany, NY. The theme of the show was “Identity” and I created a collection of garments that reflected uniqueness, style and movement. The contrasting colour combinations and distinctive designs of the garments were inspired by a visit to the Chagall exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Montréal last June.
Do you have any upcoming shows you’d like to highlight? I am beginning my season of fine craft shows and I will be traveling throughout the Northeast of USA between now and the beginning of December. You can visit my website to see my full schedule at www.marjolainestouch.com. I am available to teach workshops at my studio in North Creek, NY and to travel for teaching.