Maker Profile: Fiber Artist Dani Ives
When you think of wool felting, you probably envision fuzzy woodland creatures or little teddy bears made from craft store kits. While these projects are cute, Dani Ives has elevated felting from a craft store project to a true work of art. Her colorful, intricate, and life-like pieces capture the beauty of nature as she paints with wool on a canvas of felt, linen, velvet, or burlap.
Like many artist entrepreneurs, her business started as a hobby. “I was working at as a children’s educator at a zoo and a coworker mentioned felted animal figurines. It caught my attention and sounded like something I would really enjoy so I ordered some supplies and taught myself to felt. I then discovered a more artistic way to use the medium and began experimenting with ways to refine the art and create ‘paintings’ with the wool instead of figurines. This new way of working with fiber has allowed me as an artist to break felting away from the craft world,” says Ives. While Ives had no formal artistic training, she has always gravitated toward art. From sewing to pottery, she was attracted to things that were more tactile and hands-on. “I did dabble in sketching a little and I’ve always loved art, but I think my science background has helped me most. Through science, and my work with animals, I was really able to hone my observation skills which is so important to have as an artist.”
In 2015, after spending her time at craft fairs testing out her theory that this could be a viable creative business, Ives made the transition from her job at the zoo to a full time fiber artist. “Pet portraits really changed the game for me and quickly made it possible for me to sustain my own business,” she explains. Ives has also expanded her business to include worldwide workshops. With her background as an educator, teaching people about her craft was a natural extension for Ives. “I quickly learned that I needed to have a work in progress with me when I went to craft and art shows. It was the best way to really explain the process to people and from there classes and workshops seemed like the next step.”
As demand grew, she created online classes complete with supply kits. “When I began felting I realized that starting with the right products is so important. I also found that sourcing high quality materials from ethical farms was a challenge so I’ve worked with my suppliers to create an easy starter kit for people interested in giving this art form a try.” Her book, Painting with Wool, officially launches in March of 2019 and will showcase 16 beautiful projects you can make at home.
For more information, and to stay connected to Ives as she makes special announcements and offers custom pet portraits, sign up for her newsletter at www.daniives.com.