“Imperfect is perfect”: exploring with felt and the wonders of botanyFrancesca Palange
Tell me something about you…
My name is Terriea Kwong, a fibre and fabric enthusiast born in Hong Kong. I’m a mother of two with a lovely family including a fluffy ball Mogi. I used to work in corporate communications for a multi-national company but after I discovered felt making and natural printing I opened up to my artistic creativity and decided to pursue art full time. My passion for felt making started as serendipity. Years ago I saw seamless wool felt pouch in the UK and I was fascinated by the alchemy of turning wool into tactile 3D shapes. Curiosity brought me to source the roots of felt making. I discovered wool is a marvelous medium not only for wearable art but also to create functional felt as three-dimensional pieces such as handbags, vessels and sculptures. Passion drives me to pursue and explore the versatility of wool, for example the connection that through felt, which was originally entirely made by hand, we have with our past.
My enthusiasm extended whilst searching wool felt ideas and I found some amazing natural imprints with leaves hence why I started to do felt making whilst exploring the wonder of natural printing. In my early days I only knew about natural dyes by indigo and pounding. When I discovered eco printing I felt even more inspired by the technique. After many attempts of my own and learning the technique from one of my favorite artist Irit Dulman I can now do bold prints that make me happy. I particularly like simple and clear prints.
What are the values that you want to promote with your designs, if any?
My designs are only natural – “imperfect is perfect” – and one-of-a-kind, I work primarily by hand. My prints have sometimes a theme, Tuscany cypress, catwalks, autumn or lavender. I use natural resources like tree branches, stones, and shells, sometimes with my own cat Mogi’s hair. Some people may not like it but I think is fine! Of course I keep this last creations for myself!
What does it mean in your opinion to live a sustainable life?
A sustainable life is being environmentally friendly ‘waste not want not’. I give away my family clothing to charity or upcycle them into other styles to prolong their life. I collect windfalls for my printing. I get inspired with nature. I save bits and bobs for various projects, such as turning the scraps of a dress to make a nuno felt book covers.
If you had the power to change one thing in the world for the better, what would it
A good question! If I had the power I would encourage the Education Dept to advocate the subject of natural printing and dyeing so that more people are aware of sustainability and the bounty of nature.
What kind of fabrics do you use for your printing and where do you source them?
Silk, wool and cotton fabrics and my favorite are silk and wool. I source my fabrics locally.
What do you usually use to print on fabrics?
I use leaves of eucalyptus, rose, and pines. For iron mordant I only use rusty objects. Alum is my only other option. For dyeing I use turmeric, logwood, cochineal and madder. I simply place the leaves on fabrics then roll up with a core and bundle tightly. Boiled in water for 1.5 to 2 hours depending on the size of the bundle. I’m impatient and always unwrap immediately after taking out of the pot!
Do you also teach others?
I run workshops locally and on my travels. This summer I will run workshops in China and with an NGO.
What are your long-term goals for your designs?
I am not ambitious I just enjoy experimenting and exploring the wonder of botany. I have made quite a few pieces and some I use as references during my workshops, other samples are stashed away hoping to make use of them to create something wearable one day. I am planning a trip to a remote tribe in China as a voluntary, teaching the locals to use their local resources such as sheep, yak and plants to make some products to improve their living.
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