Combining painterly color, sculptural form, and ancient craft techniques with fashion, Jenne Giles’ felted work is truly wearable art. We recently caught up with Giles in her San Francisco studio to learn more about the inspiration behind, and techniques used to create pieces like her “Sunrise Rose Scarf.”
What is your studio like?
“Much of the time, the studio is like a small sauna: lots of steamy water in the air and the smell of Dr. Bronner’s Organic Lavender soap. It is a small studio, about 35 feet by 25 feet with high ceilings. It is nestled in the middle of a warehouse of two working folk musicians, one a singer and one a luthier, so there is always music in the air. I recently installed color-corrected fluorescent lights, which have made it easier to appreciate and work with the wool colors. There are also many stacked storage bins of fibers and small wool tumbleweeds everywhere!”
How did you get started as an artist?
“Art has always been something that has kept me involved, from my early school days. I attended a magnet arts high school that instilled a strong sense of dedication and professionalism in me. Since then I have studied studio art, art history, and craft throughout my schooling and work experience.”
Where do you get your best ideas?
“My degree in art history provides a vast mental library of images and styles. I use different styles and methods from this library to create my own language in felt. I am also inspired by natural forms and modern design principles.”
Describe a breakthrough moment.
“Discovering the rose was a ‘eureka’ moment. I had noticed the ruffle and edge and one day tried to layer the scarf, wrapping it inside of itself to allow all of the edges to show, and suddenly I was looking at a wool rose. It is a bit like the trompe l’oeil (trick of the eye) effect in painting, where there is that magic moment where you believe it is real.”
What do you love about what you do?
“How it combines painting and sculpture in a wearable form. Another thing I love about wet-felting is how it is transformed in the process into something substantially different from the original layout or plan. This makes every piece a bit of a discovery, which keeps things interesting to say the least. I learn to go with it and respond creatively to what the felt is doing. It keeps me on my toes!”