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.
How long have you been involved in the world of stitch?
I’ve been needle felting since 2008. I went to school for art, but I didn’t get into fiber until several years later, so I was adapting what I knew about sculpture to the medium and figuring things out on my own. Later, I did a certificate in fiber art, which rounded out my education a bit. I’ve been honored to be a part of a number of awesome plush shows like Plush You and more recently Stitched, but I frequently participate in shows that aren’t strictly fiber as well.
What is your favourite thing about stitchery?
For me, what makes needle felting so compelling is the level of control I am able to exert over the material. It’s a slow and painstaking process at times, but I’m able to build just about whatever I want with one needle and some wool. It’s also a great material for mixed media pieces. I love the way it interacts and contrasts with glass beads and clay and I enjoy experimenting with just how far I can push it. For a couple of pieces, I’ve actually dipped the wool into liquid gold leaf, which was a gamble that I think yielded terrific results.
What do you make of the modern craft scene?
In general, I think it’s fantastic. In terms of art in particular, it’s great to see so many artists making use of non-traditional materials in their work, although it can be challenging; art and craft don’t exactly have the easiest relationship. Fortunately, a lot of really talented people are blurring that line and making their own rules. I think the most important thing for any artist (or crafter, maker, whatever you choose to call yourself) is to carve out your own niche and stay true to your own vision.
Do you have any unusual talents we might not know about?
Most people who know me know I dream vividly and often, but not many people know that I once died in a dream. I was trying to help some people escape from enslavement or captivity of some kind. Our pursuers had guns, but we were unarmed, so when they started firing I stepped in front to protect someone and got shot right in the chest. I could feel myself falling and then a strange feeling as I died. But instead of nothingness, I opened my eyes anew and everything was covered with rainbows – it was just unspeakably beautiful. I knew that nothing could hurt me then and I was able to help everyone get away. Dreaming is like my superpower!
Zoe Williams is without doubt one of the most amazing needle felt artists out there, and these five pieces of her work prove just how talented she is!
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!