The artist creates sculpture through felting | Local News


Among the works of art in the Wiregrass Museum of Art’s B22 exhibition is a colorful insect-like sculpture created from felted wool.

It is known simply as “Creature 06” in artist Heather Deyling’s “Invented Hybrids” series – her collection of imaginary creations inspired by plants and animals. The first question Deyling usually asks about his felt sculptures is “What is it?”

“People generally seem to like it, I think, because they’re weird little creatures, but they’re colorful and they’re not intimidating – they’re cute,” Deyling said.

Deyling, who teaches art at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Atlanta, will host a felting workshop at the Wiregrass Museum of Art on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as part of the museum’s guest artist series.

You can register for the workshop at https://www.wiregrassmuseum.org/events/visiting-artist-workshop-felting-with-heather-deyling/ or by calling the museum at 334-794-3871.

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Felting is the process of producing a textile or fabric by combining and compressing loose fibers, wool or hair. Participants in Saturday’s workshop will create a sculptural work with these fibers under Deyling’s guidance.

The workshop is open to teens and adults with slots still available. Participants can bring their lunch or order a lunch during the workshop. The cost to attend the workshop is $60 for museum members and $70 for non-members. All art supplies will be included.

You can see Deyling’s fiber creation as well as other works in the B22: Wiregrass Biennial exhibition on display at Dothan Museum until 24th September.

With two degrees in painting, Deyling turned to the textile arts about 14 years ago when she found herself dissatisfied with painting. She felt limited to a square or rectangular canvas.

“I started thinking of this space as a gallery space and wanted to do more,” Deyling said. “I started experimenting with installation, which is when you kind of create an environment in a space. I was trying things out with paper and fabric, then I started using craft felt, just polyester craft felt, and realized I could kind of dye it or stain it with paint fluid acrylic.

She started cutting it into shapes, attaching it to walls, and even laying pieces on the floor for installations.

“Once I started doing that, my installation work became what galleries and art centers were most interested in exhibiting, so I continued in that direction,” Deyling said.

Living in Savannah and teaching at SCAD, Deyling took a fiber course one summer and learned how to needle felt.

“It made sense,” she said. “I had taken sculpting classes as an undergrad, but had never worked with fiber materials. It’s so malleable and relatively easy to manipulate.

Deyling’s large facilities take felting to a whole new level. The scale at which she needle felt is much larger than most people do.

And while some people may view felting as a craft rather than an art, Deyling says she doesn’t care about those distinctions. Felting, she said, made her feel a connection to women artists throughout history who worked in fiber materials.

“I love being part of this story,” Deyling said. “When I was in school, sculpture seemed to be made of wood and metal and casting of various materials, and I didn’t really like those things. It’s interesting to think that if I had been to school and had been more exposed to fiber art, I might not have studied painting.

Peggy Ussery is a staff writer for Dothan Eagle and can be reached at [email protected] or 334-712-7963. Support his work and that of other Eagle journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at dothaneagle.com.

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