Feltmaker in the Crossfire of Questions: Interview with Blanka
This is an interview that I gave at the beginning of 2017 for one of the sales platforms, on which I run my shop. I thought I should share it with you too. Enjoy reading!
Q: Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello, my name is Blanka and I am a feltmaker living in a small town at the foot of Beskid Mountains on the south of Poland. I design and create felt jewelry, accessories and bags for women as well as cute home decor items. I have a husband, who is the greatest fan of my works and my biggest support. We both love peace and the touch of nature that surrounds us.
Q: How did you discover that you have creative tendencies?
Since my childhood I have been always very creative. I liked to paint, draw and create my own toys and jewelry. I often spent my free time on learning new art techniques or attending art classes, workshops and handicraft courses. I used to try various materials – animal fibers, natural fabrics, beads and others. Over time my hobby turned into a full-time job. I have been running my own business as a feltmaker since 2014.
Q: Where do you find your inspiration?
Everything can inspire me. A unique colour, unusual shape or interesting pattern can be my Muses. Friends often ask me, where do my ideas come from, but I usually do not know what to say. It happens by itself and is just like frost painting images on a window. When I take a step back and look at what I have made, it seems that most of it comes from nature and multinational folklore.
Q: Do you have any role inspirations in the area of design? If so, who and why?
What can be more red than a poppy flower, more striped than a zebra or more mesmerizing than a peacock’s feather? Although I know there are many authorities in the field of design, I also realize that everything has already been invented. So, the only way for an artist is to take an inspiration directly from nature and from his or her own heart. And – as the heart is different in each of us – everyone can express their own personality. I hope my customers love mine.
Q: How did you come up with the ideas for the products in your shop?
When I design, I usually focus on one topic and imagine what my customers might need. Then I make it in my own way. The first thing is to choose colors for my new product. Sometimes I start from making a drawing in my notebook, but usually I stand in front of shelves in my studio, look at the wool and try to match its colors with other materials. Piece by piece an image of the item emerges in my mind. Of course, when I am out of my studio, I take notes of my ideas for future use.
Q: Which materials do you use to create your products?
Although my products are made of felt, I do not use machine-made felt sheets. I am a feltmaker, which means that I create felt by myself using superfine merino wool. This is like sculpting in pure wool. To make my works even more unique and precious, I add natural silk. Materials I use come from animals that do not sweat nor freeze. It makes my products thermoactive and versatile.
Q: Please give us a brief summary of your creative process.
Do you know these cheerful people with dreads on their heads? Dreadlocks are just matted ropes of hair and I make them all the time, as felt is a matted sheep fleece. When I have an idea or a drawing of what I would like to make, I take wool fibers out of my boxes and, little by little, put them on the rough surface. I need to arrange colors and patterns in the right order. Sometimes I add a piece of silk or other decoration. When I finish, it all looks like a bunch of hair on the table.
Then I need to do what each feltmaker does – turn it into felt. I pour the wool with warm soapy water, which softens its fibers. I cover the workspace with bubble wrap or a special mat and rub the wool with my hands. Thanks to rough surfaces and rubbing, fibers become more and more matted, which turns wool into felt. Of course, such products often require fine-tuning and applying additional techniques, e.g. 3D felting or using felting molds.
Q: What characterises your style as a feltmaker?
My style is very diverse. On the one hand, I create romantic and sophisticated accessories for women, who love boho trends. On the other hand, I design simple, ascetic jewelry and items in ethnic or tribal style. I do not restrict my imagination and follow tastes of my customers. Their satisfaction is what makes me feel most fulfilled.
Q: Who are your customers?
This is the question I often ask to myself and can not fully answer. I know about them only as much as they wish to share with me, but they are the most wonderful and hearty people I met online. They are women and men of many nationalities, professions and languages who value naturalness, uniqueness and comfort. I love to see their smiling faces on my social media, read their friendly reviews in my shops and share with them new products through my newsletter.
Q: What do you want to achieve in the future as a creative?
Happy customers are my greatest asset, thus my main goal as an artist is to increase my audience. My products are a kind of messages and I still have a lot to say. In such a competitive world this is an honor to have someone to talk to. I have an enormous amount of ideas that I would like to turn into products someday and only my customers can help me do this.