I have been making felt for over twenty years, since I was first introduced to the technique in art school. I am motivated by the materials: the denseness of felt, the physicality of creating, the surprising transformation of wool fluff into rich, layered felts.
I am influenced by the felt-making traditions of Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, and Mongolia, and by the contemporary felt work of Japan.
The process of felt making is both labor intensive and meditative. Sometimes the work specifically references night, or particular times of day or seasons, when the light startles us into seeing more attentively. Some pieces reference water—color through refracted light—or reflections, both literally and in terms of thoughtful ponderings. My interest is in the experience of darkness, the depth of color when it becomes so oversaturated light cannot escape back to our eyes. Felt, with its layered structure, is an exquisite medium for that exploration. A completed felt wall piece changes not just the visual environment but also the acoustics and temperature of a space.
I hope my work conveys some of the meaning the practice of art-making brings to life.
Dabney Hammer Kirchman grew up in Virginia where she spent summers swimming in every river, reservoir, quarry, pond or apartment swimming pool she could get to. She climbed a lot of fences.
After graduating from Tandem Friends School, Dabney studied poetry, earning a BA in English from the University of Virginia. She returned to school after several years of travel, construction work, cooking and waiting tables. Dabney then enrolled in the Fine Arts program at Virginia Commonwealth University, graduating Cum Laude with a BFA in 1996.
Dabney became a Virginia Juried Artisan in 2017. She lives in Sperryville, Virginia where she maintains a felting studio and a household of dogs, teenagers, a parrot, and one brave aerospace engineer (her husband Paul.)
Where to Find Dabney’s Work
Dabney’s felt art is available for purchase online at Etsy.com/shop/DKArtfelt
She is a member of the Artisan Center of Virginia Rappahannock County Artisan Trail network and was included in the November 2016 Artists of Rappahannock Studio and Gallery Tour.