Artist Interview: Marty Elkin

Marty is soft spoken, warm and kind…she looks as though she walked straight out of a Tasha Tudor illustration. Although we live at opposite ends of the state, I keep up with her activities on the Wrinkle in Thyme Farm blog.  Did you notice that it’s her lighthouse needlefelting that sits at the top of the Fiber College banner this year…can you think of a better image for a coastal Maine fiber event? This year Marty will be teaching Needlefelting to lucky students on Saturday afternoon. At this moment of publishing there are still three slots available if you’d like to join in.

Bubba & Blackberry by Marty Elkin

Bubba & Blackberry by Marty Elkin

My background began with nursing school in Boston where I soon discovered the part of nursing I liked best was patient teaching. Within a few years the opportunity came for me to become a nursing educator, which was my career of over 30 years.

To teach nursing I needed more education so in the 1970’s at St. Louis University I took a class called ”Creative Thinking” . The instructor challenged each of us to do something we always wanted to do and did not think we could. I chose to use oil paints to do a very simple landscape out in the open air. I loved doing skies and trees and the process opened my eyes to a world of color I had not seen before.

 

Now retired from nursing education when asked the inevitable question: “so what do you do”? I am happy to say, I am a farmer and a felt artist, and teacher. Farming gives me the flexibility to experience the seasonal rhythms of a peaceful farm in the Western Mountains. When I do the chores I enjoy running my hand through the wool of the sheep and lambs parting the locks to see the color, the crimp, and the softness of the wool. I watch as the black lambs grow into adults and over the years the color of the fleeces change. On shearing day when friends come to help, I enjoy the skirting table where we together appreciate the colors of the wool, the incredible softness, the feel of lanolin softening our hands. I spend time every day in the Tesseract amidst the colors and textures of the wool grown by our sheep.

Meg at Work by Marty Elkin

Meg at Work by Marty Elkin

The Tesseract Fiber building and learning center is where I create. The walls have needle felted framed pictures. There is a rack of hundreds of little balls of hand dyed roving in a rainbow of colors, hand dyed and natural colored wool yarn. There is a rack with 40 plus needle felting kits, each with a picture of the 5 inch square I made, a pattern hand drawn on a wool felt square, and all the colors needed to complete the project. I enjoy teaching needle felting, especially when people think they have no artistic talent. It is a joy to see the smiles when they complete their first projects.

Miss Kitty by Marty Elkin

Miss Kitty by Marty Elkin

I don’t really have much of a routine. I have become proficient in dyeing wool which happens when the spirit moves. I try to dye on Mondays, but can easily get sidetracked to doing other things. Needle felting consistently happens at the farmers markets and when possible Sunday afternoons.

Iris by Marty Elkin

Iris by Marty Elkin

 

 

I often work from photographs for inspiration, including many aspects of our farm life. Ideas are sketched on paper, then transferred to wool felt with a felt tip pen, colors chosen, and the art it created. Then a pattern is made so that the design can be duplicated for kits. The kits we create make fiber art accessible to everyone. When out and about something may catch my eye and inspire me to create a new felted image.

a good friend were to describe your style, what would he or she say? A friend says my art “reflects the passion and enthusiasm of my work. The “eyes” have it! Each creature designed has “magic dancing in its eyes”. When teaching needle felting and spinning I learn too. Teaching others brings affirmation for myself and inspiration and companionship. I treasure each opportunity to learn with others.

First Snow by Marty Elkin

First Snow by Marty Elkin

 

My greatest accomplishment so far is my largest needle felted landscape “First Snow”, which won first place at the Fiber Frolic in 2011, and the judges award at the Common Ground Country Fair the following September. This year my “Green Pastures” piece won the People’s Choice Award at Fiber Frolic.

In five years we hope to have more visitors and classes at the farm. Landscapes, pet and animal portraits, and still life “paintings” with the lovely texture of hand dyed wool will continue to offer pleasure for family, friends, artists, and more. Many have told me that one of my kits has helped them get started. What a joy that I can be a spark that helps others to release the creative power from within

Green Pastures by Marty Elkin

Green Pastures by Marty Elkin

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