December Artist of the Month Gudrun Kiel-Bullock
Creating art has always been a main focus in my life. Professionally, I worked as a graphic designer for many years while also pursuing other creative activities.
I moved to Virginia 16 years ago and spent the first 6 years as a wildlife rehabilitator raising mostly orphaned baby squirrels. In 2012 I returned to art in the form of drawing in graphite, charcoal, and colored pencils. Fiber art has always interested me and I discovered felting in 2015.
Creating in fiber – wet and needle felting as well as tapestry weaving – is currently where my journey has taken me. I enjoy the challenge of starting with loose wool fibers and in the case of wet felting, work with soap, water, and agitation to form my vision into a picture or vessel. In needle felting I also start with loose fibers but a barbed needle is my tool and many needle stabs create a picture or fiber sculpture.
I find both felting and weaving meditative in its repetitiveness and I like that I am using ancient art forms to create something contemporary. But no matter what form creation takes, for me, it is always about the joy of finding that seed of inspiration and seeing it come into form.
My art has been accepted in many juried shows and has won awards. I am a member of the Williamsburg Spinners and Weavers and exhibit at the Art Speaks Gallery in Mathews. I also teach classes in felting and weaving.
My felted sculpture, Lotti’s Cardinal, received the Award for Distinction - Sculpture in the 2021 Virginia Artists Juried Exhibition and is currently on exhibit at the Charles H. Taylor Visual Arts Center.
To see Gudrun's collection CLICK HERE
ART PROCESS, INSPIRATION AND DESCRIPTION
There are various techniques in creating felt and I work in either traditional wet felting or needle felting also referred to as dry felting. Wet felting involves using hot water, soap and agitation to lock the wool fibers into felt. A resist is added in-between the layers when creating a 3D item. In needle felting a sharp barbed needle is used to entangle the wool into felt.
I primarily needle felt when creating my felted sculptures but may also use elements of wet felting and weaving when felting the human form. I also do not use armatures. In creating my 2D felted art I will either both wet felt and needle felt on a project or just use one technique. I also like to embellish with beading and stitching.
Weaving is traditionally accomplished on some type of loom. Threads that are stretched lengthwise are called warp. Other threads are crossed over and under the warp and are called weft. The way in which the warp and weft interlock creates the weave.
I enjoy using simple looms such as a picture frame or other improvised structures that allow me to explore creative ways to weave my tapestries.
Inspirations for my art come from color combinations, as well as shapes and line I view as design elements that I see in nature, photos, or everyday life. In my sculptures I hope to elicit an emotional feeling from the viewer. I feel that my art is created intuitively as I go through my creative process.
The Black Flower with Red Center vessel is wet felted using a resist. My idea for this piece was a desire to try a technique using pre-felt as a design element which in this case are the flowers. The red center technique using embroidery thread was one I used in an art quilt and along with the black beads, works well to create texture. The stitching for the stems ties the design together.
Magellan and Savannah Belle
The two cat feltings are of my Bengal cats and shows the difference between wet felting and needle felting in 2D art. Both have a 100% white wool backing with the image ironed on using a transfer pen.
In creating Magellan, I first needle felted loose wool fiber onto the backing following the lines of the image. It was then wet felted and when dry any details were needle felted to sharpen the image.
In creating Savannah Belle, I blended different colors of loose wool to match the colors of my cat image. The wool was then needle felted to a smooth and flat finish.
In Henry and Dude, my intention was to create an image of the bond between a boy and his dog. I start my sculptures using a wool batt for the core and no armature. The head is always started first and when I am satisfied with the look and size, I determine the rest of the proportions. After the head I felt the body, arms, hands with fingers, legs, and feet with toes in separate segments and then felt the pieces into position. I used New Zealand Corriedale wool to felt both Henry and Dude blending several different colors. Henry’s clothes are wet felted Merino wool and the top is hand stitched.
I found a perfect Y branch and decided to try a branch weaving. Rather than wrapping the warp around the branch, I decided to drill holes in which to feed the warp threads through. My inspiration for this piece was a piece of rust from a metal table that had beautiful patterns of color.