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Tracey Kuffner :: Q&A with a Fibre Artist

Updated: Nov 5, 2021

Tracey Kuffner lives on a small farm in Duchess, Alberta with her family where they raise sheep and llamas. She is an author, illustrator, and fibre artist. She has written and illustrated three children’s books with wet felted illustrations, including Max Became a Mom, a story about the relationship between a boy and a lamb, and Isabelle’s Sheepdog,  about a girl and her sheep, which was raised as a dog.  The wool used in these creations is from her own sheep. Tracey’s books are popular with schools where she gives more than 60 curriculum based, feltmaking workshops each year throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan for teachers and their students.

She is the owner of The Wool Mine, where she sells her one-of-a-kind hand felted hats, scarves, mittens, slippers, vests and jackets to buyers across Canada.

Visit The Wool Mine on Facebook:

How did you discover felt making? I’ve been felt making for 22 years.  I discovered felt making from a dear friend of mine named Rennie Gross who is an amazing felt maker. She is my mentor and my inspiration, my favorite artist and the reason I am successful at what I do.

What is the best workshop you’ve ever taken? I’ve taken some amazing courses but the best I’d have to say is my very first one with my mentor, Rennie Gross, that hooked me from the moment I took it and introduced me to the best career ever.

Music or no music while you work? I do not listen to music very often when I work as I work with children so much throughout the year doing curriculum based felt workshops and and it is very noisy, so when I’m home in my studio I prefer quiet.

Where do you find inspiration? I find inspiration everywhere.  Nature, what others wear, my friends, Pinterest, customers asking the age old question “Have you ever thought of doing this?”!   Most of the time I have, but sometimes they give me some good ideas.

Do you teach? If so what do you enjoy about that? I teach all the time.  Mostly I do around sixty children’s workshops during the year and four or five adult workshops and some paint with wool nights and I love it all.  My favorite though is working with children. They are so eager and do as you ask.  They have no reservations, they enjoy it and have fun.  They make me so happy.

Felt work by Maple Ridge kindergarten students, led by Tracey.  They designed and made their own wool felt while learning about different creatures.

Work made by Grade 1 students at Jennie Elliott school in Calgary. With Tracey, they created  flat and 3-D felt work while exploring plant life cycles.

Who is your favorite artist? I have so many artists that I admire and so many different mediums that I love.  There is a local artist in my city that I admire.  Her name is Linda Hajash.  Her work is brilliant.  As for felt makers, Hillevi Huse, Charlotte Buch, Anna Gunnarsdóttir and Pamela MacGregor for their incredible work and personalities.

Do you have your early work? I don’t have any of my early work except for the illustrations for the children’s books I wrote and illustrated fifteen years ago.  I wrote them for my two children and then the books took off and I started working as an author and illustrator and an artist-in-residence in the school system.  As for clothing, etc…when it's sold, it’s gone.  I don’t take pictures.

What would you say to fibre artists just starting out? To people starting out I’d say, “If you want to make a good living as an artist you may have to make some bread and butter items you don’t always like doing, before you can do only the projects you enjoy”.

Paint with Wool night with Tracey at the, now closed, Wolf Willow Studio, Calgary.

Have you ever gone through a dry spell or felt blocked? I have creative blocks ALL the time.  Especially when I’m trying to come up with a new product line because I am a production felt maker and I do have people that work with me throughout the year to create our products.

Describe the space you create in… I have a 1600 square foot studio.  It is in constant chaos.

Do you have an upcoming exhibition? I don’t do exhibitions as that is not my interest. Right now, I am working on projects for various schools that I will be working at and writing a play with a group of grades 3/4’s that will be performed in May 2017.  We will also be felting some of the back drops together. At home I’m working on a line of cement, steel and wool lamps for three spring shows I am attending and the woman that does contract work for me throughout the year is working on our clothing line.

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