Robbin Firth – Artist Statement
My studio is usually filled with lots of colorful fiber, my latest felting project on the table, bundles of eco-printed fabrics in the dye pot, and, sometimes, one of our Saint Bernards at my feet. HeartFelt Silks is all about family and our daughter Kirsten models all of my garments.
I have done different fiber arts for most of my life, and I have been felting for the past 23 years. Initially, I was intrigued by the element of surprise in the felting process, and that attracted me to this art form. Even now, while I know very well how to achieve the results I want, felting always feels fresh and exciting to me. I love working with colors, especially the rich earthy tones of the autumn season. I enjoy designing, particularly creating one-of-a-kind garments.
I enjoy the layout part and find it to be relaxing and meditative. Natural fibers, including raw wool, are my favorite materials. I also welcome the challenge of working with different types of natural fiber. I dye a lot of my own fiber (wool and silk) as well as fabric. I now incorporate eco-printing and eco-dyeing into my feltmaking too.
Starting in 2019, the new Heartfelt Silks venue in Bayport, MN, is Robbin’s main retail, working, and teaching space. My husband, Harry Firth, and I collaborate on our family business, HeartFelt Silks. A number of years ago, Harry, who is a master wood craftsman, and I worked together to design, develop, and perfect the innovative Palm Washboard® felting tool.
Our goal was to create an ergonomic tool that makes the felting process faster and easier on the body. The now patented Palm Washboard® line of specialized felting tools continues to be entirely handmade by Harry in our family workshop. I use the Palm Washboard® tools in every part of the process, from felting to fulling, and they have truly transformed the felting experience for me and for hundreds of felters around the world who use the Palm Washboard® in their work.
Over the years, I have developed a variety of original workshops on various felting and dyeing techniques. For a time, I taught felting classes locally, primarily at the renowned Textile Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. More recently, I have traveled to conduct felting workshops around the United States and internationally. Last year, I released my first online video tutorial on the felted wool loose lock shawl with ruffles.
My collection of wearable and decorative fiber art consists of garments, accessories, home decor objects, and wall art. My work has been in several exhibitions, publications and is in many private collections in the US and abroad.
I love using social media to connect with my community of friends, colleagues, and students. I regularly share in-progress photos, video tips, and other felt making and dyeing content on Facebook and on Instagram, and I would love to hear from you there.