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    Lute Phillips, Filz Fine Felt

    Lute Phillips 

    Felt maker
    Filz Fine Felt

    What is your professional or training background?
    Having worked as an architect and raising a family for many years, I finally returned to my first love ‘textiles’. After exploring many aspect of the textile area I eventually settled on felt making, which recently became my fulltime occupation. Although felting is fundamentally a simple process my background allows me to apply my capability of thinking in the third dimension and CAD skills to the design process. The end result can be incredibly complex.

    What do you make, create or do?
    Filz creates eco friendly fashion accessories and garments for women. They are all hand felted and unique, with great attention to detail.

    What other creative areas would you like to explore as a side-project to your current work, or move into full-time?
    One of my challenges is to create products with the smallest ecological footprint possible. In this regard I am presently exploring how choosing less processed materials gives me more control over the eco friendliness of the end product.

    My approach to felt making is one of continuous creative exploration with every project being a stepping stone to the next one. The possibilities are endless, think it and it can be made in felt! Lately I have been exploring the possibilities of 3D felt, using raw greasy wool (straight from the sheep’s back) and focussing on ‘how little fibre is enough’ to create a durable product.

    What skills do you have that help you run your business, or what skills would you like to develop?
    Having been self employed for many years has given me a basic understanding of the administrative side to a business. Being computer literate also means that I am able to create and maintain my own website and online shop. This is a big plus in keeping my overheads low and my web content fresh.

    The broader promotion and marketing of my business is one of my greatest challenges. As a dedicated and productive introvert, I always find it easier to avoid face to face interaction with potential onsellers and promoters. For my business to reach its full potential I probably need to develop a strategy to balance my online and offline efforts.

    Taming the creative beast within and living a balanced life is still my biggest challenge!

    List five people, businesses or websites/blogs that keep you motivated and inspired, and why?
    1. My German grandmother is my biggest inspiration. She was a seamstress and loved fashion. She was always impeccably dressed, even in her old age. I loved watching her sew, often by hand and listen to her stories on how she was the first woman in the neighbourhood to wear long pants and being frowned upon; wearing unfinished garments to dinner parties and hoping they wouldn’t fall apart; raising a family during World War II and bartering clothes made from bed sheets and pyjamas in return for food and shelter…

    My sister and I were the coolest dressed chicks in town. We were the first ones to wear real ‘hot’ pants and always had the craziest outfits at dress up parties. Something had to rub off!

    2. My second biggest inspiration must be nature. As an architect I love finding geometrical patterns in things. Reproducing these patterns is a big part of my work but rather than pursuing a perfect geometry I am ultimately more interested in a result that looks and feels natural. As such, my designs always allow for variation, deviation and even mistakes. This potential for change and my acceptance of the imperfect allows me to tap into life’s true energy!

    The unpredictability of the felting process is ideally suited to reverse a perfect manmade geometry into a natural one and therefore the end result will always be as unique as its beholder.

    3. Ethnic traditional clothing: these products are often produced in direct answer to a local need and are made drawing on local skills, materials and resources. As such, they are typically eco friendly, versatile, functional, beautiful-and often incorporate symbolic patterns to nurture the spirit. I often find myself drawing upon these wonderful attributes when designing my garments.

    4. ‘Design D’autore’ an Italian facebook page that is a visual feast, celebrating all aspects of the arts.

    5. Elis Vermeulen, Charlotte Semisch and Cal Lane. The first two are felt artists exploring the possibilities of felt in interesting ways. I admire Paula’s exquisite 3-dimensional wall hangings and Elis’ poetic installation art. Cal Lane is a metal artist. Her work makes me wish my tools of the trade were a leather apron and an oxyacetylene burner. She turns typical functional male attributes into objects of beauty. Each of these artists has in common that their work is both incredibly detailed and minimalist at the same time.

    Contact Lute via filz/at/finefelt.net

    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: Interviews with Creative Women | Comments Off on Lute Phillips, Filz Fine Felt

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