Zetta Kanta: Felt It with My Hands

Tactility

I have always been attracted to texture. I love working with my hands and whenever I see something I like I have to run my fingers over it. It is almost like the image in my mind is not complete until I have felt it with my hands. 

In my late teens, I studied to become a fashion designer. After finishing my studies I never worked in the industry, instead, I left home in Latvia to work as AuPair in Denmark. After three years of living there and studying architecture, I met my husband. When we settled in Australia I resumed my studies in Art, did a lot of soul-searching and discovered felting.


Discovering Felting

I work with muted natural colours and this limited colour palette challenges me and allows my work to be grounded, with no particular excitement, but with wisdom beyond my grasp. My work is inspired by nature, but it is not a perfectly manicured garden with exotic plants and bright flowers; it more resembles sunburnt grass pastures or dewy mornings of fields in the distance. The confident calmness that the afternoon sun brings and gentle rain that falls on forest moss – this is my kind of inspiration source; this is the nature where I find peace.

Fields

The idea of creating large pieces of soft material that can be used as art in the home really spoke to me and I started experimenting and creating this relationship with wool.

Rain That Rains
Rain That Rains, detail

imagination captured in art

After experimenting – a lot of experimenting – I discovered lucky accidents and very soon they became my deliberate serendipities. Once I understood the behavior of the fibre, how one fibre reacts with another. Do they want to merge together? … my imagination became like a wildfire. I could not stop thinking about making new tapestries, about the possibilities and patterns.

There is a lot of my emotions in this material for me, and I have had people become emotional while looking at my tapestries. It feels like we have talked heart-to-heart without words. I love this feeling. It is almost magical. 

High Country Sunrise

Please Touch

My work is very tactile. I would place my self in a multi-sensory art category. My work creates visual softness but it also contributes to audio or space softness and most certainly tactile softness.

Whenever I display my work people can’t help themselves but to come up close and touch it. I love when they listen to that urge inside and like naughty children they run their fingers over something that is displayed as art. After they suddenly realize what they have done and with a nervous laugh they ask: ‘Can we touch it?’ 

Identity

There has been a study done in Germany where scientists have studied the urge to touch soft things and apparently it is engraved in all of us from our mother’s wombs. Soft textures were the first thing we felt as humans and that stays with us our whole life. 


The Creative Process

I have so many projects in my head running at the same time. It is overwhelming sometimes. I work with interior designers and most of my work is commissions. But there are times when a piece appears in my mind like a bright star. I carry it around for quite a while; could be weeks; could be months, and then the making starts.

I do a loose sketch and start on the preparation of raw materials. I work with local farms and get my fleeces from them. I love supporting small family farms or farms with a higher purpose, like rescue farms. The best fleeces I get are from a local rescue farm. This shepherdess will drive to a different interstate to rescue small colored sheep babies from white sheep farms. White sheep can get colored babies too and the farmers cannot keep them as they can jeopardize the whole flock, so they call her to collect them and those fleeces are the finest I have ever seen. It is like wool gold!

Sometimes I will buy a fleece and there will be several shades of grey and fawn and black and brown. I will lay it out on my porch and I will see the whole project finished in my imagination. 

I wash and card my own wool and then I start felting. My studio is my dining room and kitchen. It is nothing fancy and definitely not Instagrammable, but it works. It can take up to a month to complete bigger works and afterwards I feel so excited, I can not stop, sometimes I find it hard to sleep after a big project, I feel exhausted, but can not sleep so I do some knitting or spinning. 


Advice for Artists

Know the material you are working with. Study it, understand how it behaves and then start creating. Do not stop. On days when you can not create, think about it. Never stop exercising the imagination muscle, it is what keeps you as an artist.


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@zettakantastudios

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