Hi! I’m Sara Smelt - yes it rhymes with felt.
Me - Official Version: I am a British-born contemporary felt artist and former scientist who has always seen art in science and science in art. When wool roving transforms into felt fabric however, that is art, science and a little magic!
Me - Amongst Friends Version: I’m English (you can take the girl out of England, but you will never take England, or an English sense of fun and humor, out of the girl). I moved to glorious Southern California in 1998 to do a Post Doc at Scripps Research Institute (I have a PhD in immunology) for 2 years… and never left! I live in sunny, beachy Ventura with my sweet, comical cat Henry.
I left my fancy biotech job in November 2009 to travel and volunteer with children in New Zealand, South America and India for just over a year! What an incredible, life-changing trip that was (please do it if you EVER get the opportunity)!! Perhaps it was all the sheep I saw in New Zealand...or the alpacas in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia... or the goats in India... or, the following year, the sheep on the farm I stayed at in Iceland (the farmer recognized all of them, by face!!)…but I became fascinated (some might say obsessed!) with wool in all it's glorious forms!
I returned from my travels changed by my experiences, ready to follow my heart and intuition and excited to embrace my reignited passion for the fiber arts. During a brief dalliance with freeform crochet I read that handmade felt could be incorporated into the work. Handmade felt? - Huh? Until that point my experience with felt had been with the small, brightly colored squares of synthetic felt at the local craft store! Intrigued I bought some horrible quality needle felting wool and created my first felted soap….and my second….and my third and fourth and fifth…! That was it! I was obsessed! My crochet needle was laid to one side and my adventure in this fabulous fiber art began - full time!
Traditional felt, created by combining fine layers of wool, is nothing like the synthetic felt squares found at craft stores. 'Real' felt can be shaped, molded and combined with silk and other fabrics to create stunning textures and textiles. Although this was art, there was so much opportunity for geeky experimentation - the scientist in me giggled with glee - and still does!
Desperately wanting to share my passion and spread the word of this incredible fiber art I established Felt Evolution (www.FeltEvolution.com), a company offering a wide range of felting supplies, e-tutorials, felting kits, workshops and one-of-a-kind wearable art and wall art in 2011.
I began teaching and giving seminars about traditional and nuno felting at Guilds, Art Centers, Galleries, Yarn Stores and at private homes throughout Southern California. I’ve now taught hundreds of felting newbies and delight in watching their wonderment as they see wool transform into felt fabric and proudly take home their artistic creations!
I am often contacted by people, from around the globe, expressing their wish to learn to felt but being unable to find a class nearby. This was a main driver for me creating “Learn to Felt” - the E-Course. Won’t it be fun to create a global community of fiber-loving friends?!!
Even more about me (me me!!):
I’m a member of the prestigious Los Angeles-based Fiber Art Guild www.DesigningWeavers.com
I’ve been on the telly! I was a featured artist in the City TV 16 (Santa Monica) Program 'Made by Hand' in November 2014. See the program here.
I’m published! My Autumn Leaves scarflet design features in the book 'Creative Scarves - 24 stylish projects to craft and stitch' by Tiffany M. Windsor, Heidi Borchers and Savannah Starr.
Find the book here
My work has been exhibited! My nuno-felted wedding dress was exhibited at Escondido Municipal Gallery in 2014.
A wall hanging created with 100 year old wool in collaboration with artist Gregory Beylerian and in honor of the 100 year commemoration of the Armenian Genocide was the centerpiece of his exhibition ‘The 100 Year Journey’ held at The Armenian Cathedral in Burbank CA in April 2015 and now touring. Read about that here.
My 2-part, unfelted series, 'Through the Eye/s of A Child' was shown displayed in the 'Nocturnal Blues' Exhibition at Concordia University, CA, Oct 7 - Nov 4 2015.
My nuno felted jacket 'Perseverance' and nuno felted wedding dress are on display in the Designing Weavers show at The Branch Gallery in Inglewood from April 1st - May 21st 2016.
I won a prize!! 'Through The Eye of A Child' (single eye) won first place in the Ventura County Arts Council 'Solamente' Show at the Ventura County Government Center in March/April 2016.