Date: December 4, 2018 | Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Beth Hall |
Meet Dani Ives: This Rogers-based artist takes needle felting worldwide
Q. Tell us a bit about fiber arts.
A. To me, fiber arts is a term that encompasses any form of art or craft that involves fabric or fibers, either natural or synthetic. This could be any type of surface design, printing, needlework, yarn work, quilting, sewing, embroidery, felting—there are so many disciplines that could be categorized as fiber arts.
Q. What is your specific passion within the fiber arts category?
A. I have found a special niche that I refer to as “painting with wool.” It’s two-dimensional needle felting, and the process involves taking loose wool fibers and poking them into a base fabric with a special barbed needle. I layer and compose the fibers to create complex colors, texture and depth, just as one would use paint.
Q. It’s such a unique art form with great attention to detail. How did you become interested in this?
A. I learned about needle felting through a conversation with a dear former coworker around eight years ago. At that time, I was working a dream job as a conservation educator at a zoo. My friend mentioned this brand-new-to-me process called needle felting, and I was intrigued!
I promptly ordered some supplies and began creating. I began my felting journey by creating tons of three-dimensional animals, then went on to create pin cushions and jewelry. I began selling those on Etsy and at local craft shows. After a few years of nurturing this hobby, I saw an example of a felted picture and gave it a try. I quickly learned that this 2-D style was way more artistically fulfilling. I began pushing the boundaries of what I thought was possible with needle felting. In 2015, I quit my zoo job of 10 years and became a full-time artist.
Q. How do you begin the process of creating a new piece?
A. The realism in my work is something I take a lot of pride in. I typically work from multiple images to glean as much detail as I can. I have a huge color palette of wool from years of collecting, but I usually still end up mixing and combining colors to get just the right hue. When composing a piece, I try to make it feel pleasant and balanced—or pleasantly imbalanced, in some cases. For me, it’s about creating the best piece I can at this moment in my life.
Q. Has your own experience led you to teach anyone else the art of needle felting?
A. I absolutely love teaching felting workshops, and I try to squeeze as many as I can into my schedule! I’ve taught all over the US and internationally. The workshops I teach range from afternoon classes that last a few hours to five-day intensive studies and studio work. All my workshops are suitable for beginners, and attendees can expect to learn about the supplies for needle felting, best practices, and useful techniques. I keep an updated schedule of current and future workshops on my website. I also offer online e-courses and kits teaching the same techniques for anyone who wants guidance but is unable to attend an in-person workshop.
Q. We also hear you have an educational book, Painting with Wool, coming out soon.
A. Yes, it is packed with guidance and projects to help readers learn and create in my style of needle felting. My goal for anyone learning from me—whether in a workshop, e-course, or now from my book—is for them to gain the technical skills and then to apply those to their own style and forms of self-expression. I’m thrilled to be able to push the needle forward (pun intended!) into a more contemporary and modern space for fiber art, and especially needle felting.
Painting with Wool by Dani Ives will be available March 26 and is available now for preorder on Amazon. Connect with Dani, shop her artwork, and learn more about her upcoming book and workshops at daniives.com or on Instagram (@begoodnatured).