Friday, October 8, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday - Susan Neri-Waldron Interview

Welcome to Fiber Arts Friday!  This is the place where you can share your adventures in Fiber Arts each week and meet some other great Fiber Artist.  So, what are you waiting for?  Link your blog and start sharing the Wonder of Fiber Arts!
Way back in May I went to Fort Wayne, Indiana for AOBA Nationals where I took my Huacaya Herdsire, Midnight Magic's Mystery, to show in the halter competition.  While I was there I met some amazing artists using Alpaca as their muse.  One person, Susan Neri-Waldron, who is an amazing Fiber Artist inspired me to learn more about felting.  She used Suri Alpaca locks in all of her creations which melted my heart with joy because I love my Suri.  I hear so many farms state that they are frustrated because they don't know what to do with Suri Alpaca.  I purchased my Suri and said...let there be delicious roving for spinners and yarn fit for royalty made primarily out of my beloved Suri and that's exactly what I did.   I've met way too many farms who have let years worth of their Suri fiber sit in the barn.  They think Suri is difficult to work least, that's what they've heard.  Suri is delightful to work's just different but so is Flax, Cotton, Angora, Bamboo, etc.  Each fiber is supposed to be different.  That's part of the beauty of Fiber Arts. I had heard about Susan and the wonderful work she has done with Suri Alpaca but I had never met her...until AOBA Nationals.
Every time I walked past Susan's booth she was busy with customers so...after I had my two free drinks at the Alpaca Auction, I took off to shop.  I got to chat with Susan for quite awhile and I fell in love with everything she makes.  I wanted one of her wall hangings. I could picture it in my living room above my favorite couch but...I knew a purchase like that would require Grumpy's involvement.  To have a piece of art hanging in my house using my Suri would be awesome!  So...I took pictures of the one's I liked and will hopefully purchase that wall art the next time I Susan in person.  I did purchase a beautiful nuno felted scarf that she made and a needle felted tapestry kit to make a miniature Alpaca Wall Hanging.  Um, yeah, that is sitting in time out (with quite a few other projects) until I'm ready to put what I see in my head on to the felt.  (Lucky for you that will be a future Fiber Arts Friday Post)  While visiting with Susan, I asked if she would grant me an interview for Fiber Arts Friday.  Here we are in October and I finally got my act together so that I could share with you the Wonder that Susan creates out of Alpaca.

Welcome to Fiber Arts Friday!
Tell me about yourself …How long have you been in the Alpaca business?
Ron and I have had the alpacas for 7 years.  We have a herd of 41 Suri's.   We love them dearly and do all the farm work ourselves.

How did you get started in Fiber Arts, particularly felting?
I was looking for some way to use the Suri Alpaca in a way that really let the softness and luster come forth.  The Nuno felt, with the silk background is perfect.  In the hangings or tapestries I use a prefelt of an alpaca and wood to give them body.

You felt the most amazing wall hangings. What inspired you to make these?
The inspiration for the tapestries is the way that the Suri ringlets mirror the way plants and trees grow, which all makes sense to me.  So taking long walks in the woods behind my house, in all seasons, and in all lights, speaks to me in alpaca fiber.

You use Suri Alpaca in most of your projects, which many people are intimidated to use. Any words of advise to someone using Suri in their felted products? 
The Suri felts beautifully.  It doesn't have the same stability and that is why I like having a background of silk chiffon for the soft sheer clothing or a prefelt for the tapestries or some more structured clothing.  For some reason, there can be one small place that doesn't felt down.  If you just push those areas down with a felting needle, then you can finish the wet felt.

What other projects do you make and sell with your fiber?
I do clothing-silk and alpaca tunics, alpaca vests, silk velvet and alpaca ponchos, silk and alpaca scarves and tapestries.  I have also designed a nuno felt alpaca and silk scarf kit and a needle felt tapestry kit.

Did you learn on your own or did you have help/classes? 
I was able to take a workshop with Polly Sterling and literally my world changed.

What is something you would love to try and haven’t, in regards to Fiber Arts?
I would love to make felt jewelry and to add 3-D elements to my clothing.  I also have a million designs in my head and just not enough time and energy.

What words of advice would you give to someone just starting out in Fiber Arts? 
Be open and experimental, try all kinds of colors together and spend time in nature to gather your inspiration.

Do you have any tips or an easy project you would like to share? 
Try a small pin, just to get you started with felting.  Arrange some alpaca fiber in a design( abstract or perhaps a simple flower, needle it together.  Then wet and soap it and gently rub it in your hands, run just a bit of hot water and rub some more.  As you work it, you will feel it harden or full.  You can add a pin to the back and wear it.  You have just opened the door to all of felting--both wet felt and dry felt or needle felt.  You can do any project now.

 For more information on Susan, visit her website:
Thank you, Susan, for inspiring me to follow my heart and use my herd as my artistic inspiration!  Now, please share what adventures you've had in Fiber Arts this week.
Fiber Arts Friday Blog Carnival!

To participate:

  1. Submit your blog article using your current blog address NOT your complete blog  i.e. you would submit  
  1. Link back to Fiber Arts Friday from your post so that your readers can come and see everyone else’s projects! Text link to  WISDOM BEGINS IN WONDER!   
  2. Visit as many of the other participants as possible and leave comments! That’s what helps us all connect!
Check out these wonderful blogs:


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  2. Good morning! Happy Birthday and happy Fiber Arts Friday! Susan's felting is amazing thanks so much for introducing her and her work to us. Have a wonder-full day! xxxooo

  3. I agree with Ally! I love reading about such creative people. It's always so inspiring. Enjoy the weekend!

  4. Fabulous work (very painterly) and a great interview - thanks so much for opening my eyes by sharing!

  5. Beautiful work. IT's so nice to see folks use fiber (yes Suri too) in different and exotic ways.

  6. Happy Birthday!
    What stunning work. Thank you for the interview. Well done!

  7. I'm always impressed with felters... especially the nuno felting.

  8. Great post! Wonderful information.

    You know, it's not just suri fiber that gets left in bags unused. When we were researching the business I was shocked and amazed how many farms had bags and bags of fiber sitting in their attic/barn/basement. I swore I would never let that happen. I'm embarssed how many bags I do have sitting my basement, but I am trying to use it, it's just slow going. We have always made a point to not only be alpaca farmers, but fiber users. I love hearing about felting. It's something I haven't tried, yet.


  9. Wow, amazing art work! It's so inspiring!

  10. What an incredible interview, Andrea! Thanks so much for taking the time to do this. You have really done such an amazing job with Fiber Arts Friday. My eyes are just brimming with tears, girl. Thank you so much for your passion. You bring so much to the world of fiber, and alpacas of course!

    And thanks Susan for sharing your wonderful talents with us as well. You ladies rock!

  11. I finally made it here! Susan's work is absolutely STUNNING. Thanks for blogging this!