Alexandra Keely is a visionary fiber artist who creates strikingly beautiful felted items including unique wall-hangings and a variety of one-of-a-kind apparel. In response to your requests, we are thrilled to offer more two-day classes this year, and more classes for those with intermediate to advanced skills. Alexandra will offer a two-day class for intermediate and advanced felters; they’ll create felted story shawls to tell their own unique stories. She’s also offering a one-day class where students with basic or intermediate skills will create nuno felted shawls; nuno felting combines silk and merino to make beautiful fabric that can be draped. Alexandra Keely’s profile will help you to get to know her AND might motivate you to sign up for one of her classes here.
What does Fiber College’s 2014 theme “Do It Your Way!” mean to you as a fiber artist and teacher?
As an artist I have an extremely liberal process. Doing it “my way” means embracing mistakes and unexpected outcomes and really becoming one with my materials. When I teach, it’s never a rigid process; I am open to experimentation. “My way” means that when a student wants to get creative and veer off plan, I will always do my best to facilitate their goals.
How do you develop your own style?
I draw my inspiration from the natural world, and my own experiences, so I find my style changes based on the project. I am also so early in my career that no processes have truly been set in stone. One constant has been ruffles. I don’t know why, maybe I am just a girly girl, but ruffles are something that exist in my heart and I always feel compelled to create.
What kind of creative patterns, routines, or rituals do you have?
The biggest pattern or ritual I have when I am working is that I pace around a lot. And I take constant snack breaks. Sometimes it’s hard to get any work done because I am pacing about so much.
What would a student be most surprised to know about you?
I guess a somewhat surprising fact about me is that I never finished my Textiles diploma. After graduating with my Bachelor of Applied Arts degree I decided to pursue a Graduate Studies diploma from the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. Consequently, I only ever actually took two felting classes, about 6 credit hours total. So, I’ve had an incredible time making things up as I go!
As an instructor, what would be the best advice you could give to a student?
As an instructor the best advice I could ever give to a student would be to remind them that felting is an incredibly organic process. Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and reevaluate the project as you go. I always meticulously plan out my projects, but I am entirely open to restructuring as I go. Wonderful things come to an open mind.
What project has given you the most satisfaction and why?
No project has given me as much satisfaction as the actual creative process. I love watching a piece come together. I love troubleshooting as issues arise. I love sculpting with my materials. For me it’s simply incredibly satisfying to see a project through to completion, and to just have a moment to contemplate how hard you worked.
Who has had the greatest influence on your work as an artist?
Mother nature. Nature inspires my work more than anyone or anything else. I love to reflect and mimic nature in my work because the natural world is so beautiful, strange, and devastating, and it is forever changing. It’s all just simply, impossibly wonderful.
What’s the greatest thing you’ve learned as a fiber artist?
The greatest, most important thing I’ve learned as a fiber artist is that you’ll always lack absolute control. I like absolute control. I always wanted to know the outcome before I took action. “Mistakes” are actually just beautiful lessons that open up fascinating new paths, as long as you let them. All is never lost when it comes to felting.
What’s the most important thing that you want potential students to know about you?
I will make you work hard! Felting is a labour intensive process, and in my classes we have a lot of things to cover in a limited amount of time. That said, your hard work will pay off, and you will leave satisfied, and oh-so-proud of the gorgeous piece of artwork you created! 🙂
You can learn more about Alexandra Keely by visiting her website and her FB page listed below: