Fiber artist Barbara Poole uses her background as a painter to create colorful, one-of-a-kind felted garments and accessories. Discover more of her wearable art by visiting her website.
I am a person who makes things; I love the process of making—the discovery, the happy accidents, the unknown and the seemingly impossible. I find the problem-solving fun and I get a kick out of coming up with something that surprise, delights and educates me. Felting is a perfect medium for me!
I grew up by the ocean and I find that I use the shapes and marks that I would find on the beach in my felting work—barnacles, snails, seashells, seaweed, beach grass and even the ridges in the sand from the movement of the tides.
I incorporate a lot of organic shapes in my work including wavy line and circles; the softness of the material expands to the shapes I am using. I am equally inspired by the four elements—earth, air, fire and water.
I also love science and all those stories of 18th century explorers who made up stories about the things that they found in order to explain them. My son, Ian (a wonderful writer), and I worked together on an installation piece titled “Invasive Species/Unintended Consequences” that incorporated my felt work and my drawings. Like my paintings, the installation was a narrative piece about scientists confronting an unexplainable foreign species.
I like the fact that I can make exquisite fashion apparel and accessories and can incorporate it into my artwork and show it in an art gallery. As I’ve grown as a fiber artist, I experiment more and more with bringing in other influences from the art world.
Until I discovered felting I was a painter, and for a while I worked both in paint and felt. When the recession hit in 2007, my paintings stopped selling, but not my felted garments. As I am an artist whose income is needed to support my family, I decided to reinvent myself as a fiber artist.
Now, I focus entirely on making garments and accessories. My training as a painter enables me to compose my garments and accessories in a holistic fashion.
I work from drawings as I did when painting, but there is also a different kind of discovery process that occurs when you make felt. You need to be concerned with three dimensions, so I look for the balance of light to dark, large to small and how the eye moves across the piece. It ends up that my work in felt is much more abstract that my painting work.
My favorite garment to create is a coat. They are very large complex projects, and really give me the same thrill as creating a painting.
I love figuring out how to create functional, beautiful seamless garments that protect you from the elements. When I begin a coat, I am usually starting from a place of inspiration.
Recently I have created coats that are homage to Frida Kahlo, Gustav Klimt and Paris.
We’ve opened an online art gallery! Shop Now.