You are about to enter the imaginative world of fiber artist Shana Kohnstamm. Enjoy her creativity, and find out more by visiting her website.
Although I had studied art most of my life, it wasn’t until I was in my early thirties that it dawned on me: Art had been the one and only constant, and for the first time I could see it would carry me through the rest of my life.
I worked many years primarily as a figurative painter. In 2006, I started to develop my own visual language, one inspired by the natural world – from plant seeds and sea life, to microscopic organisms and cosmic events.
A little over two years ago, I took a felting workshop and that changed everything. I was able to take my catalogue of painted shapes and transform them into soft sculptures. The switch over to the felting process (needle-felting and wet felting) was a natural extension for my imagery. It was not only invigorating, but it also reminded me that making artwork could be fun!
Felting takes my process of painting into a purer form. I start all my paintings loose and energetic and as I build up layers, the image starts to form, tighten up, and take shape. Working with wool, I approach each piece the same way. Loose fibers slowly become a tight, hard bundle, taking shape with every stab of the needle.
I love knowing that I’m using an ancient technique to create modern works. Illuminated wool glows beautifully and I have been incorporating more lamps and small electronics into this body of work.
My supplies are for the most part natural: wool, silk, bamboo. I can even be hands-on in preparing those materials, through fiber processing and dyeing. Something I never even considered as a painter.
Felting has opened up a new range of materials and techniques. I consider myself very lucky to have rediscovered the joy of learning a new medium this far into my career. It has introduced me to a whole new community of like-minded artisans and I am inspired by both their work and their openness to share their knowledge.