The Medium: Wool
Patty mixes fabrics of varying textures, materials, and colors with her wool to create shifting, graphic works of art. She re-imagines an ancient technique through her exacting and modern artistic gaze.
The process to create each piece can last multiple days. As she combines the wool with other fabrics like silks and cottons, the design moves and shifts, taking on an expression of it’s own. The result is singular whether it’s smaller projects like statement necklaces or larger artwork destined for display in homes or commercial spaces. She tames the wildness of raw wool and melds it into one, unified textile.
Her signature designs take on two major motifs. The first boasts bold geometric elements with intrepid, striking color schemes. The latter is more impressionistic and ethereal, invoking skyscapes and landscapes. There is a constant pull between perfection and the imperfect.
The Maker: Patty Benson
A California native now living in Portland, Oregon, Patty has worked in visual merchandising, fashion design and textile restoration. She began her experimentation and research of the felting process 10 years ago and it has been her passion ever since.
Patty can't remember a time when she wasn't surrounded by fabrics and the art of making by hand. She accompanied her mom, a sewer, on many trips to the fabric store, and remembers the wool garments of her school uniform in England where she lived as a child. Influenced by travel and cultures from a very young age, her earliest memories are of the taste, smells and colors of her family’s homes in Mexico and Ireland. If anything, it is the physical response of these recollections that she’s carried with her into her textile work and a desire to create these feelings for others.
“This technique of felting wool is still a mystery to a lot of people. When people see it in action, they’re always so blown away, especially since it uses such basic and organic materials – wool, water, soap, your hands, time. It's fun to see their reaction. For me, it’s about creating this permanent feeling, with integrity and weight, fused with color in the form of a textile that will be in someone's daily life, on a couch, on a wall, adorning their neck. Quiet and comforting"