Fiber artist Nancy Evans creates a brand new fabric from wool and silk
There’s a bit of science and magic going on when fiber artist Nancy Evans rubs silk and wool together.
Using cool water and soap, she is able to work the wool fibers between the open weave of the silk chiffon. The fibers of wool roving open up “like a pinecone,” she explains, and attach to the silk threads.
It takes quite a bit of agitation, sometimes hours, for the process to happen. When she likes the combination of color and texture, she adds hot water or a trip to the microwave, where it shrinks 40 percent. The result is called nuno felt — it’s a totally new fabric with a soft drape and nice movement.
Evans creates scarves and more with a complexity of color, shape and texture — a virtual collage in fabric and fiber. She uses merino wool for softness and the materials themselves are very light, working perfectly for a spring vest or jacket. Sometimes she starts with printed silk that adds even more complexity to the final piece when it is dyed again. Interestingly enough, she creates her jackets from one final piece of nuno fabric, not pieces stitched together.
This past summer, Evans’ jackets won Best of Show; Best Innovation in Design, Technique or Medium; and the People’s Choice Award in the CraftWear exhibit at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s annual fair at Mt. Sunapee.
Her work is available at League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s stores in Concord, Meredith, Nashua and Sandwich. She also teaches nuno felting and needle felting at BeadBush Studio in Deerfield and a few League shops. Prices range from $95 to $150 for neckware and $350 to $900 for jackets and vests.