In my faraway childhood – in the most stagnant years of Soviet power in Russia – my two beautiful grandmothers used to say that a girl had to know her handiwork. Both my grandmothers have always been and remain standards of true femininity for me. Both were intelligent and educated, but were no strangers to housekeeping, cooking, sewing, knitting or embroidery. My Jewish grandmother, Judith, used to say that “one should be able to make everything out of nothing.” The Polish grandmother, Nina, would say that “everything is in our hands". Our home was full of books and paintings. There were many old things that were carefully passed from generation to generation: embroidered tablecloths, laced cuffs, patterned knitwear, elegant handmade slippers… The armoires in the Grannies’ apartments seemed to me, a little girl, like chests full of mysterious treasures.
The last quarter of the twentieth century was such a strange time in Russia. Few people cared about art, about the passing on of cultural traditions and preserving arts and crafts. There were “items of preservation” in museums and only a few true preservers in life.In the 1980s I would sew clothes for myself and my friends, hippie style: patching the gentlest lacework and fragments of centuries-old embroidery onto rough cloth. My Grannies were not happy about it, but I was already studying theatre history at the Academy of Theatre, including history of costume!
However, twenty more years had to pass before the interest in arts and crafts instilled in me in the childhood led me to creating clothing and footwear, accessories, ornaments and interior objects out of felt.From the very beginning of my “felt road” I decided not to limit myself to any one particular stylistic trend. My intention was to try to combine different historical periods and styles in the modern handmade felt clothing. This meant that, in addition to wool and decorative fibres as source materials, I began to use textile fragments, lacework, vintage beads and buttons, velvet ribbons and silk braids, elements of natural leather, hand-knitted details.
I have defined for myself several directions in felt clothing design in which I have resolved to specialize.
1. Felt patchwork;
2. Textured felting with 3-D elements;
3. Replication of natural and creation of new fur/felt textures — eco-furs for collars, coats, footwear and even rugs;
4. Ornamental finishes on felt clothing;
5. A perfect fit or draping of the finished product;
6. New design and technological solutions;
7. Creation of unique, authentic and ecologically safe felt clothing; creation of “green” solutions for interior design.
Such a long listing of my professional interests in felt cloth is no accident for me. The artisans of the past would spend many years uncovering the secrets of their talented predecessors and perfecting their own craftsmanship.
I work manually, with minimal mechanization of the process, without felt- machines. I knit with hook needle and spokes, do manual embroidery, make my own hand made spinning yarn. I cut, sew and iron everything by hand. And that fills every felt object I make with a very positive and warm energy.
I am collecting materials for my work from all around the globe. Wool comes from Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Peru, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, Mongolia and other countries. I get silk from China, Japan and India, antique lacework, buttons and beads from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania…All kinds of fabrics come from all countries and continents. This is my boundless geography of felting. I am creating my own Felt Universe.
I grateful all my customers—they give me an opportunity to experiment and perfect my craft; all my colleagues and friends—we are learning and growing together in our mastery, sharing ideas and helping with advice.
I am proud of my family and love them—for the roots that let me grow up and become an artist, for the light of joy and love in every day of mine.
All this is interwoven, along with wool, into my artwork. When people who buy my works write to me with their appreciation, I am happy.