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Elina Saari :: Artist Talk at the 2018 Canadian Felt Symposium

Updated: Oct 27, 2021

Elina Saari of Felt Faction is a character in all the very best ways. She’s the kind of person who’s presence is noticed the minute they walk in the room. There’s a certain magic about her.  She’s charmingly irreverent with a warm smile and big laugh.

This year she taught two workshops at the 2018 Canadian Felt Symposium. Felt Fantasy Explosion: a 3 day intensive workshop where participants learned Elina’s method of making 3-dimensional hats and Adjustable Hats: a workshop that explored how to use different motifs such as leaves, forest forms or bones to make distinctive creations.

Both workshops were exceedingly popular with her students who could be found working late into the night. The results of their labours were absolutely stunning.

Home for Elina and her husband/muse, Aki, is a little red stucco house where life revolves around felting. Everything is covered with felt: chairs, tables, antiques, and carpets. Not one space is wasted. She says she’s a boarder line hoarder when it comes to felting.

Even the family sauna is a workspace. Here, one-of-a-kind hats dry while Elina felts on the floor using the tiles for friction. The stove burns constantly which helps to move her work along. Outside in her garden, dye pots are constantly boiling.

Twenty-five years ago Elina began felting when she was pregnant with her son and she still loves it. She finds inspiration everywhere she looks. She’s even designed a hat inspired by a pair of men’s boxer shorts.

Felting, Elina says, has kept her entertained which is why she keeps going. She never repeats herself and she learns something every day. Over the years she’s even experimented with different felting tools including a supercharged vibrator which she thought would speed up the process. This she says didn’t work because it was too powerful. In the end she swapped it with drill.

Elina has created hats for rock stars, dance groups, a hot tub owner who said his clients complained their heads got cold, and even celebrities like the Olson sisters and George Clooney. It’s not always hats. She was commissioned by a top Finnish folk band to create felt whips to accompany one of their popular songs.

Elina’s has exhibited her work in fine craft shows such as: Origin: The London Craft Fair, The Craft Movement Fair, Richmond Fellowship Fair, all three in London England, Hat Extravaganza, Melbourne, Australia, Kansainvälinen Huopasymposium, Budapest, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, where they were asked to remove their company poster because it featured a naked photo of Aki.

The organizers were worried about it upsetting people with the children. Elina found this amusing. Nudity isn’t much of an issue in Finland where they spend a lot of the time in the sauna with friends.

Elina is a popular teacher who has given workshops all over the world including: London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.

To find out how you can work with this amazing mentor visit here.  You won’t regret it. Elina is an energetic, inspiring and generous instructor.

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