Artist Janice Arnold (right) incorporated recycled coffee bags, metal, mohair, and merino wool into 2016’s Folded Time, a wavy, 277-foot-long felt sculpture, to create textures evoking a sense of evolution and time.
THE PULL OF WOOL Written by RACHEL GALLAHER
of a 40-foot table in her downtown Olympia, Washington, studio, the founder of JA Felt is running her nimble fingers along the undulating edges of a large handmade felt textile patterned with swirling foliage. “One thing I love about working with wool,” she notes with a smile, “is the more you beat it up, the more beautiful it gets.” This deceptively simple statement belies the amount of physically demanding labor Arnold puts into each of her felt-based projects—she’ll invest up to a month of work in a single piece. The 23-foot-long leaf-scattered textile on the table, which epitomizes her ability to push traditional craft into the realm of fine art, will be featured in “FELT DeCoded | Wool: Nature’s Technology,” the solo exhibition she’s curated for San Francisco’s Museum of Craft and Design (it runs February 11 to June 4, 2017). Since her first foray into the craft 18 years ago, the selftaught artist has been a pivotal figure in the revitalization of the handmade felt industry, creating work ranging from costumes for the L.A. Opera’s “Grendel” in 2006 to »
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JASMINE OLSON; PORTRAIT: SHAUNA BITTLE
“GO AHEAD, YOU CAN TOUCH THAT—IT’S NATURALLY DURABLE, SO YOU CAN’T REALLY HURT IT,” says artist Janice Arnold. Standing at one end