BEREA – Not only can the natural fiber wool be spun and woven, but it can also be felted into a variety of fabrics and shapes. Vallorie Henderson, of Louisville, will be demonstrating both 2-D and 3-D feltmaking in her Nuno felt demonstration on April 2, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea.
“Wool is my chosen fiber,” Henderson said, “and I have worked with it in its many forms most of my life. Recent pieces have focused on three-dimensional forms that I create by coaxing my hand-dyed and handmade felt to stand and support itself.”
Henderson’s creative works show her love of exploring, a minimalist sensibility, and a sculptural approach. When felting, she uses merino wool and silk fibers together. At first glance, her forms may appear organic and relaxed, but they are actually the result of in-depth studies in basic engineering principles. Some pieces use traditional hat-making techniques of forming the wet felted wool over forms. Other more complex forms are created by manipulating and giving structure to her felted cloth through the use of gathers, darts and pleats.
“My work will always have its origins in nature, utilizing the inherent qualities of wool that allow it to be felted and by my preference for lines and forms found only in the natural world, “ she said. “Ultimately, the work emerges from my belief that no material is static and that there is beauty to be found in the changing surfaces of objects as they are worn and used.”
Henderson’s works are created using a Japanese felting technique called Nuno, the name which means “cloth” or “textile” in Japanese. It is a fiber technique that bonds loose fibers, usually wool, together with a sheer fabric such as silk gauze, creating a lightweight felt. Using soap, water and agitation, the wool fibers become completely joined with the background fabric.
“What I like about Nuno felting is that you can achieve a very sheer gossamer fabric that drapes beautifully,” said Henderson, “or you can create a much heavier fabric from felting and layering more and more fibers together into a fabric that is more suitable for a winter coat.”
Henderson holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in art from Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, and a Master of Fine Art degree with a focus in fibers from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Her work stems from a life-long love of making and a deep appreciation for the beauty of handmade objects. Currently employed by the Kentucky Small Business Development Center in Louisville, she focuses on assisting creative entrepreneurs like herself, in marketing their artwork on a national level.
Henderson’s wearables are regularly available at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, located at 200 Artisan Way, just off Interstate 75 at Berea Exit 77. The center’s exhibits, shopping and travel and information areas are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the cafe is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.
The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea currently features works by more than 700 artisans from more than 100 counties across the Commonwealth. Special exhibits on display include “Great Impressions: Prints by Kentucky Artisans,” through Sept. 10; and in the lobby, “Kentucky Clay: A Continuing Tradition.”
For more information about events call 859-985-5448, go to the center’s website at www.kentuckyartisancenter.ky.gov or visit the center’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kentucky.artisan.center.
Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is an agency in the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.