Redefining Felt

We have a fantastic treat on the blog today, part 1 of a 2 part series from felt artist Janice Arnold. Janice Arnold takes handmade FELT to extremes. The daughter of a cartographer, she learned scale as a second sense. Her work ranges from intricately executed pieces to elaborate environments in refined textures from luminous to dense using raw fibers. Arnold is artist in a league of her own.

For those of you who don’t know my work,  I
love to play with space and perception and push the boundaries on what
people expect to see, both in *Felt and contemporary textile art. I
create immersive environments mostly using fabric that I have handmade
from raw materials. I believe in the power of natural textiles to
transform us. My art practice is an ongoing process of experimentation
with the ephemeral qualities of materials and light,  and how this
affects our perceptions of texture, surface and architectural space. I
like to challenge the viewer to consider contrasts – the old made new,
translucency versus density, the balance between positive and negative, raw versus finished, possible versus impossible.

see myself as an inventor, explorer and thrill seeker. I  develop new
processes for each new combination of fiber, using what I call
‘intelligent play’. I have made a lot of mistakes over the past 15 years
of making Felt!  Guided by those mistakes I have developed and refined a
multitude of techniques. Even so, everything is informed by a profound
sense of honor for the traditional nomadic cultures and the traditional
techniques of making Felt along with a level of refinement that
demonstrates my quest for quality and perfection in everything I do. 

have been integral to our existence for millennia and offer a link to
our sometimes forgotten collective past. I call Felt the first community
based material as it required a community to make enough Felt to cover and furnish a yurt. Modern
life in contrast,  is driven by mechanism and individualism with a
predominance of synthetics and technology.  This removes us from the handmade as well as our historic traditions of making things collectively.

Feltmaking in Central Asia in the early 1900s…


Community is also a necessity on the scale that I like to work.


I am very excited to be invited to do an installation and
give the opening presentation (5pm June 26th)  at the upcoming Lake
Oswego Festival of the Arts.
 My art has taken me around the world, but
it is a delight to share it with a community so close to the town where I
was born and raised – Vancouver Washington.

of my work is designed around the nomadic principle of mobility.
Individual elements find new life as mutable installations in new
spaces. For the Festival Exhibition “ On the Fringe” I am installing one
element of a much larger installation titled CHROMA Passage which was
created in 2010 for the Grand Rapids Art Museum in Grand Rapids
Michigan. Many of the raw fibers for this piece came from Ashland Bay!  

Here is an photo from CHROMA Passage at the GRAM installation.


In the next installment of my blog I will share the inspiration behind
CHROMA Passage, and talk about the concept and design process for my
interior and exterior installations at the Lake Oswego Festival of the

*Note: When capitalized, Felt is being used as a noun. When lowercase, it is a verb or adjective.