Felter Skelter – Shana Kohnstamm


Felter Skelter - Needle Felt Art Inspiration

Welcome to Felter Skelter, your essential guide for needle felting inspiration and ideas!

For this month’s column, I interviewed fellow wool sculptor Shana Kohnstamm.

Shana Kohnstamm – Glassy Eyed (2021)

I got to know Shana online and although we have never met in person, I’ve had the pleasure of learning more about her background and techniques over video chat. I’m always impressed by how much I learn from our conversations and I’m thrilled to share her creations with you now. Read on for the interview and photos!

Shana Kohnstamm Hydrotropia

How did you discover needle felting?

After taking a wet-felting workshop in August 2010, I was looking for roving at the local yarn shop. The clerk there suggested needle-felting, claiming it was “so much easier” than wet-felting. I checked out a couple of books from the library the cutesy projects failed to resonate with me.  Also, I was still painting regularly and unsure how I would incorporate felting into my daily practice.  Finally the next February I had a needle-felting artist come over to my house and demonstrate. I watched her for all of 5 minutes and it clicked.

Shane Kohnstamm – Pretty Imposter (2019)

What inspires your artwork?

“Inspiration” is a tricky word. Usually, I don’t get geeked about a piece until after I start and it takes on a life of its own. I suppose you could say I’m inspired by process. Biological forms from plants, sea life, and microorganisms are fascinating to me and they show up often in my work.

Shana Kohnstamm Nudibranc

What is your favorite thing about fiber as a medium?

My favorite thing is being able to work in a non-studio environment. I was a painting major in college and have been chained to an easel ever since. There is really nothing like curling up on the couch and making sculpture knowing that you’re not going to ruin the furniture…or the floor…or your clothes…

Shana Kohnstamm Octopus Lily

Least favorite?

My least favorite thing is the scale. The largest sculpture I’ve made to date is nearly 2 feet tall. HUGE by needle-felting standards, but I’d love to work even bigger.

Shana Kohnstamm Six Toed Bowl
Shana Kohnstamm – Six Toed Bowl

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out? (with fiber, or with art in general)

Make what you love and don’t worry about pleasing anyone but yourself. Find a friend or colleague who you trust to be honest about your work when you’re ready to receive constructive criticism.

Shana Kohnstamm Swirl
Shana Kohnstamm – Swirl

Thanks to Shana for her insights! Enjoy more of her work at her website or follow Shana on Instagram to enjoy her creative processes!


What Technique Is This?

Needle Felting is the process of using a notched or “barbed” needle to compress layers of wool into denser felt that can be manipulated to create 3D sculptures. It is different to wet felting, which uses water to combine wool fibres, and these days there are a range of felting tools available that can enable you to make your own soft sculptures with ease!

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Zoë Williams

Zoë Williams creates needle felt sculptures based on spirits, sacred creatures, and dreams. Her work is concerned with the intersection of the (inner) realm of the collective unconscious and the (outer) kingdom of nature. She lives and works in New York City.

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