Rachel Nicholson, Fiber Artist

Rachel Nicholson is a fiber artist.  She creates her decorative and wearable fiber pieces out of her Nicholson & Sayre Studio in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Each image is created in felt by adding strands of dyed fleece.  Rachel then wet felts it to establish a non-woven fabric. The images are inspired by trips to other countries and the North Carolina mountains.  She also makes nuno scarves, vessels, and hand-dyed silk scarves.

Rachel Nicholson

I have been felting for over 30 years and I love all the qualities that make felt unique. It is a prehistoric craft and yet it looks like a contemporary artform.

Felt can be two or three dimensional. It is very easy to fix if something turns out differently than you planned. You can rough it up felt into it again, and if you still don’t like it, you can cut it up and make it into something else.

Artists today make clothing, accessories, home decor pieces, as well as wall hangings, sculpture and book arts. Color translates beautifully with felt aand can be blended into remarkably sophisticated colors.

In making felt I experiment primarily with two methods.  The first is traditional wet felt technique dating to prehistoric times.  The second is a dry method which has evolved in the twentieth century. The folowing is a brief description of each method.

Wet felt is produced by placing layers of wool fleece in alternate directions and covering it to prevent the fibers shifting.  Hot water and soap are added.  After significant amount of time rubbing and beating the fibers, the fleece emerges as a piece of wool fabric.

Dry felting or needle felting requires the repeated use of a needle to compact and connect the loose fibers into a solid mass.  This process is a derivative of the large commercial needle punch machines which produce commercial felt. This method of felting excites me; I can control both color and form by working with one strand at a time.