Life interfered with an early interest in ﬁber arts- spinning, natural dyes, weaving- as I progressed through graduate school, marriage, family and a long career as a psychotherapist. Midlife, we relocated from Ann Arbor, where I had been a member of the Handweavers Guild, to Chicago. From country mouse to city mouse, I felt lost until I found a new career as a wildlife and conservation educator at the Lincoln Park Zoo and new venues for pursuing my passion for creating with natural ﬁbers. I used my time in Chicago to study, exhibit and then teach nuno wool/silk felting. As I worked with wools, silks and dyes, I found it to be the perfect combination of form and function. Something that can be airy and delicate can also be sturdy, strong, insulating and waterproof. In some parts of the world, wool is still turned to felt to make nomadic housing or “yurts”.
To start with raw animal ﬁber and move it through the centuries old techniques of felting it into a piece of wearable art or a vessel with colors that mimic nature is a real joy for me. Oftentimes the process begins right in a barn where I choose the sheepʼs wool and then, working with a myriad of textures and colors and feeling the ﬁbers turn to felt, step by step, is both ethereal and earthy at the same time.
Here in St. Petersburg, I teach ﬁber arts at the Morean Arts Center and I also volunteer at the raptor aviary at Boyd Hill Nature Park. We have a second home in Asheville, NC and next year I will begin teaching classes in ﬁber arts there and working with the Red Wolf Recovery Project and the WNC Nature Center.
Vicki Bennett, fiber artist