Through calculated, rising tangles of wool and plant fibers, Kristy Kún’s experimental textiles advance the sculptural capabilities of hand-made felt. Her richly textured surfaces, formed through a water and energy intense process of rubbing and kneading wool fibers until they bond, are a contemporary adaptation of ancient methods in felt making. Compositions of disparate materials reveal artistic visions inspired by relationships and evolution in nature, and the fluidity of the materials themselves.
Kún forged her artistic mettle apprenticing as a woodworker and upholsterer during her early twenties. Dedicating thirteen years to building mortise and tenon constructed furniture from reclaimed wood, her respect for materials and craftsmanship in their reverential structure, is planted deep.
Growing up in the suburban Midwest, opportunities to explore craft and industrial arts were scarce. Kristy became increasingly interested fine craftsmanship in wood during college, and withdrew from university classes in construction engineering to pursue a study with master woodworkers on the West Coast. The apprenticeship she landed shortly after, with furniture craftsman Whit McLeod, would be the foundation of a lifelong passion for Craft in many forms… In learning, sharing, and collaborating with an expanse of mediums and artists.
“My life as a craftsman began in a woodshop, transforming reclaimed and historic wood into finely crafted furniture. The selection and processing of the wood, joinery, construction and finishing were a fulfilling pursuit for many years. The skills I developed during this period are reflected in obvious ways in my current work, e.g. hand crafted frames, upholstery methods used in mounting felt, and in some less obvious ways… My process for joining wool fibers and making dry connections before felting is uniquely my own technique, developed and inspired by the joinery used in the furniture I built.”
Ten years ago Kristy began the transition from wood to wool. The change in materials fostered a change in lifestyle; A quieter environment with materials that require more gentle and personal attention, rather than tools and industrial equipment. This allowed her to work closer to the home while raising her daughter and provided a studio environment that was a safer and friendlier place for visitors. She operated a handful of studios and businesses over these years, each becoming a treasured place to foster ideas, share materials and techniques, and host local and international instructors in a variety of industrial and textile arts. “I’ve taken this time to work slowly through my own ideas, learn from others, and develop a sustainable practice of my own in felt making.”
“I am, to my core, a collaborator.” To continue my creative growth as an artist and exploration of techniques and materials, Kristy participates in a unique artists’ retreat, a Collab. Frogwood Collab is a group of roughly forty professional artists and makers who gather annually to work together for a week, sharing ideas and processes and creating outstanding works of art and craftsmanship. “Through the Collab, I return to my studio with fresh eyes and inspiration. My work is continually refreshed and evolving from the experience.”
I am deeply moved by the transformative qualities of wool and plant fibers, which, when plied correctly, parallel environmental transformations; Birth, fruition, decay. Formations of water, earth and sky, emerge as if breathing and alive. My hands translate this energy and these textures from nature into new form using altered methods of a timeless craft.
Learn Kristy's Technique
Kristy offers felting and dyeing workshops every spring and summer in her Portland, Oregon studio.
She also offers a unique experience for felters to learn new techniques in textural felt making from the comfort of their own homes. These home courses are supported with online video demonstrations, chat rooms for students to share work and receive instructor comments, and thoughtfully prepared tutorials containing tutorials and required materials.
View workshop options here.
A Passion for Fine Craft
In her most recent series, Amplified, Kún responds to observations of the materials as they are formed and manipulated in her hands. “With the creation of a new material that seamlessly transforms into a third dimension, capturing the rhythmic underwater life of the textiles as they float and undulate within my hands.” Thus bringing to life the essence of her experience creating Felt.