Thomas Horst creates the most remarkable fashions using felt and when you look at his designs it is awe-inspiring that such stunning garments and accessories such as his gorgeous purses were created from raw wool. His sculptural approach using this media is truly amazing. His colors and forms are reminiscent of natural elements such as fire and earth, water and air.
Thomas explains that working with wool is complicated. It can be manipulated, made into fabric and then perhaps made into something useful. But the way in which it could be constructed was fascinating him.
Felting was like opening the door in his mind. He could create a sheet of fabric out of wool. The fabric, the essence of clothing drew him to make something that could be worn. But he did not want to break up the planes of the fabric with seams and stitches. He wanted to maintain the textural image, the flow of color. He wanted his pieces to be seamless. He knew the problems. Wool shrinks considerably when felted. Wool is hot and heavy. He experimented. He labored. He tried to understand this material. So he makes it shrink to fit. He makes it thin to wear. He makes it wearable. He enjoys the complexity. It compels him to move forward. This challenge. Starting with something no longer then the fingers in his hand, and changing it, mastering it, to make a figure, a form thru functions, which is one-of-a- kind. Then to see it, transforming the body of its wearer into art in itself, that is the drive.
Horst, a native of Akron, Ohio, was introduced to felt making while enrolled in the master’s degree program of the School of Art at Kent State University. Intrigued by the mathematics involved in the production of felted pieces which require careful analysis of shrinking and layering dynamics, he began a journey into a mode of self-expression that demands precision and hard physical labor. Employed as an art educator in the Cleveland municipal school system, he juggled work, family, and his obligations to the US Army National Guard and his studies to graduate from the master’s program in 2003. With thoroughness and determination, this dyed-in-the-wool innovator has sought to investigate the potential of wool fibers and the various ways to felt, dye and manipulate them.
While unearthing information on Thomas, I ran across a blog posting telling of the upcoming workshop in the UK with felt artist Nicola Brown. Nicola is a master Felter and I have been following her for many years. Her work is diverse and her pieces are amazing. So if you’re interested in this work shop with Thomas, do check out the posting.
Over the course of this three day workshop discover the techniques that Horst uses to create his fabulous one off felt garments! Using these methods we should have time for every participant to design, felt and dye one large piece in addition to a second smaller piece such as a sleeveless vest, funky bag or lightweight and warm trellis wrap. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet Horst on his first ever workshop outside the USA and to mingle with felting participants from Ireland, England and Denmark!!! Images of Horst’s work may be viewed on his website http://www.horstcouture.com/