How long have you been a part of Artistic Portland, and what appealed to you about joining the Co-op?
I had my felting in Artistic Portland the first day it opened. I met Marianne and several of the women planning the co-op when I did shows during the summer and Christmas.
One of the great things about the co-op is that I have a home for my art. I love getting to know different artists and working with them to make our store fabulous. I also get to keep my prices lower than a regular store.
Where are you from?
I was born in Seattle and raised in Portland. I went to Lincoln High and the University of Oregon. The next 35 years Monterey, CA was my home base. I happily moved back to Portland when my daughter and her husband chose Portland as the place to raise my grandchildren.
What is your background?
I’m kind of a free spirit. I have had many jobs and many adventures. I cleaned houses, worked as: a nanny for an astrologer/therapist, a health care provider, an espresso pusher, and a receptionist. One of my favorite jobs was as a personal assistant to a woman who was a channel for ET’s or anyone else who she wanted to hear from in the great beyond. She had a radio show in Monterey. I helped a 95 year old retired executive write a book about his life. In 1981, I spent 6 months in Cabo San Lucas helping set up a rehabilitation center for the poor. That area was just developing and had only one big hotel.
I have always had some craft going on. In Carmel I worked at Sandcastles toy store where I was the Wish Fairy and made wish bags. During this time I made my egg shell Christmas ornaments.
Why felting? And how has your practice changed over time?
Six years ago, my daughter had suggested needle felting to make Kindle covers as they were becoming popular. I went out and bought lots of wool sweaters at the thrift stores and shrunk them in the washing machine. When the sweaters are shrunk they are perfect for needle felting. They are thick and don’t ravel when you cut it out for the pattern. The felting needle is very sharp and barbed. It pokes the raw wool into the sweater and makes great designs. I did that for a year until I discovered wet felting*! I took a class at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby, OR. It happens every year in September. If you love fiber, in any form - knitting, weaving, or felting - you would love this event.
Since then I have given up needle felting sweaters (I have a bin full I am not using). I make Kindle covers, iPad covers, and iPhone covers using the wet felting method. I love to make nuno felted scarves,** felted soaps (yep, wool covering soap, It lasts longer and I love making little designs on the wool). Also, I am covering lattice cat balls with wool.
I have added dying silk to my artistic endeavors and eventually want to learn to use natural dyes. Learning all the ways of working with animal fibers is a life long endeavor. I am amazed at the breadth and depth of felting and suggest it to anyone who loves to work with their hands, loves color, and the magic of turning fluff into soooo many cool things!
How would you describe your artistic style in three words?
Colorful, unique, practical.
What inspires you?
Colors! When I moved to Portland it was Fall and the colors amazed me. I couldn’t stop collecting leaves.
Where do you create?
All I need is a table for my scarves. I make my soaps and cat toys on my lap if I have to.
What do you like to do when you're not creating?
I’m reading, watching shows on my computer, talking to my bird, listening to podcasts.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I love the paranormal. ET’s, conspiracies, time travel. I love my podcasts and listening to KBOO and OPB. I love psychology and what makes us tick.
Stop by Artistic Portland any day of the week 10 am - 6 pm (noon-5 pm on Sundays) to see and purchase Ammi's work in person!
*Felting as a process started thousands of years ago. It is said a Nomad put a piece of raw wool in his boot and after many miles of walking he discovered that with pressure and moisture the piece of wool matted together and became one solid mass. In Mongolia the sheep herders lay out huge amounts of wool fibers, wet it down, beat on it with sticks until it is matted down then lay down a layer of Yak skin on top. It is then rolled around a pole, hitched behind a horse and dragged bouncing for hours until the wool fibers are tightly compacted. (google Mongolian Yurt makers). That is basically the way felting is made today only on a smaller scale.
**Most of my scarves are Nuno felted (nuno meaning cloth in Japanese). The silk fabric laid out on plastic bubble wrap and fine merino wool roving laid out on top. I put a layer of thin nylon on top, spray it with soapy water and rub it down gently. In the next stage I can either roll it up with a pool noodle (like the pole used by the Mongolians), cover with a towel, tie it up and roll it back and forth up to 800 times or more. This can also be done rolled up with a layer of plastic and a wet rolled up towel and put in a dryer on no hear...thump thump thump...the action works like the rolling. When the fibers travel through the cloth it is time to shrink or full the scarf. This is done by tossing it on the table until it shrinks 1/2 to 1/3 it’s original size. There are so many ways to do this process. Everyone does it a little differently. Some just rub by hand, some use a sander! I learned by watching Youtube videos, taking classes and reading books.