The felt stained glass technique is founded on the contrasting forces in nature: from chaos to structure and from destruction to mending. The world is broken and chaos shadows all aspects of our lives. As humanity we are not new to this, but as a generation, we needed re-assurance that it will pass and that all aspects of healing are meaningful. The technique is simple: create a fabric out of fibres, cut it into pieces and put it back together using embellishing to celebrate the places of mending. It is all done in the ancient textile making medium of felt.
The technique has evolved in the three years that it has been used. Many beginners discovered felt making through it. It also ignited the creative juices of artists from around the globe and some of the most interesting fiber artists have contributed to this exhibition.
Timeline of the technique
2020 – The technique was born from the inspiration of Evie Hone, a stained glass artist who worked in the studios in Marlay Park where Dr. Niki Collier is based. It started as a modest attempt to bring felt friends together through the running of a series of three classes with 10 of my students online during the first lockdown.
The finished art pieces were exhibited in the studio space of The Constant Knitter in the autumn. We also had a Zoom opening where we shared a glass of campaign virtually.
2021 – At the beginning of the year Health Ireland, in collaboration with DCCI, put forward a proposal for engagements through artists and organisations to work together. Feltmakers Ireland commissioned me to make a project proposal and run classes teaching people the technique. The teaching was done in collaboration with 2 other tutors Liadain Butler and Caóilfíonn Murphy O’Hanlon. The Feltmakers North and Region 14 coordinators, Jane Fox and Helene Dooley helped to put together a project which avalanched to over 250 subscriptions for online classes. It became a token of the time- while Brexit was breaking people’s hearts we came together as one – one land one art – just love for wool and creativity.
We managed to send 150 kits and give classes to 150 people in the new technique.
The success was supported greatly by Rosemary Steen, the CEO of DCCI. She stood behind the idea to put an exhibition together with all the 9 GANS who had community projects. Operation Keep Well just kept on giving back joy to people and celebrating their creativity and their community spirit. The exhibition Keep Well opened at Dublin Castle during the first in person DCCI event- World Crafts Council Conference and GANS meeting in October. It was visited by President Higgins.
2022 – The Pearse Museum awarded an exhibition slot to the proposal of running a two-fold exhibition for Easter 2022. Together with the museum we put an innovative program which included curators talk, workshops (both online and in person) as well as an artist talk and an international class. The online classes were run by Helene Dooley, Liadain Butler and Dr. Niki Collier. There was access to the online tutorials as well the DCCI videos on demand. The exhibition will be officially opened on the 23rd April by Liz Nilsson, one of the 50 Irish Heros and runs till the 26th June. There are over 30 Irish Artists and 30 international artists participating in the exhibition. There is also a community panel of over 70 works.