This is an interview that I gave as a feltmaker at the beginning of 2017 to one of the marketplaces with handmade items. It turned out that the marketplace was ceasing its activity at that time and never published the interview. This is why I decided to share it with you here. I hope it will help you to understand my process and emotions that stand behind it. 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 the Beskid Mountains in the south of Poland. I design and create felt jewelry, accessories and bags for women as well as cute decorations for home. I have a husband, who is the greatest fan of my works and my biggest support. We both love quiet and the touch of nature that surrounds us.
Q: How did you discover that you have creative tendencies?
I have been very creative since my childhood. I liked to paint, draw and create my own toys and jewelry. This is why 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 run my own business as a feltmaker since 2014.
Q: Where do you find your inspiration?
Everything can inspire me. A unique color, an unusual shape or an interesting pattern can be my Muse. My friends often ask me where my ideas come from, but I usually do not know what to say. They appear unnoticed just like frost patterns on windows. When I take a step back and look at what I have made, it seems to me that most of it comes from nature and multinational folklore.
Q: Is there anyone in the area of design who inspires you?
What can be redder 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 filter the inspiration through his or her own heart. In effect – as each of us has a different heart – we are able to create something new and express our own personality.
Q: How did you come up with the ideas for the products in your shop?
When I design a new product, I usually focus on the chosen theme and imagine what my customers might need. Sometimes I start from a drawing 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 future product emerges in my mind. For this reason, I would say I am a spontaneous creator. Of course, there are products that require planning and prior research and these ones are toughest for me.
Q: Which materials do you use to create your products?
Although my products are felted, I do not use machine-made felt. I am a feltmaker, which means that I make felt by myself using wool fibers. It is like sculpting in a pure wool. To make my works even more unique and precious, I often decorate them with natural silk. Materials I use come from animals that neither sweat nor get cold. 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 simply matted ropes of hair and I make them all the time. I can say so because 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 table. I arrange colors and patterns according to what I designed. Sometimes I add a piece of silk or other decorative material as well. At the end of this stage it all looks like a pile of hair on my working space.
Then I do what every feltmaker does: turn all these fibers into felt. First, I pour what is on the table with warm soapy water. It softens wool fibers and opens numerous small hooks on them. When all the fibers are wet, I cover them with a special bamboo mat or bubble wrap and rub them with my hands. It makes them more and more matted turning them into felt. At the end, every product needs a little fine tuning and some of them require 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 and ethnic style. On the other hand, I design ascetic jewelry for those who prefer simplicity. I do not restrict my imagination and follow the 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 myself and can not fully answer. I know about them only what 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 messages of some kind 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.