Portrait of an Artist: Claudie Azoulai
By merging pieces of dyed wool fibre together using heat, moisture, and friction—an ancient practice known as hand felting—visual artist Claudie Azoulai created the pieces in the exhibit Feltworks. Also featuring pieces by Azoulai’s friend and fellow felt artist Elana Sigal, the show runs at the Sidney and Gertrude Zack Gallery (950 West 41st Avenue, Vancouver) March 8-25.
The Straight reached Azoulai by phone to talk about her art.
What do you like about hand felting?
I love the idea that it [the process] is so simple and it’s very tactile in nature, and it’s also very immediate. You can really see the transformation. There you are applying different dyed fibres together and with your hands you can actually transform it before your very eyes. There’s a kind of a magical quality to it.
How did you learn how to do it?
We have a cabin on Hornby Island and there was a felter there, who used to live there, and was kind of the felting guru of the island. She taught a lot of us how to felt. She’s actually since moved to Scotland and I think owns a sheep farm, so it’s actually quite appropriate. She’s actually left a legacy on Hornby Island. There’s a lot of felters on Hornby.
How long does it take to create a piece?
It depends how large and how multilayered it is…. If you multilayer it, it could take up to a month to finish a piece. In a typical piece, if I’m working all day, I can basically start a piece and finish it by the evening. There’s a lot of steps to creating a piece. First of all the dyeing of the wool fibres, and then the layering of the piece, and then the process of using soapy warm water and rolling it and using friction…and pressure, and then rinsing it out and drying it.
Portrait of an Artist is an ongoing feature on Straight.com that profiles local visual artists. Suggest an artist to profile in the comments section below or by sending a message via Twitter to twitter.com/thomsonstraight.